Richard Jones, 1st Earl of Ranelagh

Last updated

Portrait, oil on canvas, Richard Jones, 1st Earl of Ranelagh (1641-1712) by Sir Peter Lely (1618-1680) Richard Jones, 1st Earl of Ranelagh.jpg
Portrait, oil on canvas, Richard Jones, 1st Earl of Ranelagh (1641–1712) by Sir Peter Lely (1618–1680)

Richard Jones, 1st Earl of Ranelagh PC (Ire) FRS (8 February 1641 – 5 January 1712), known as The Viscount Ranelagh between 1669 and 1677, was an Irish peer, politician both in the Parliaments of England and Ireland.



He was the eldest son of Arthur Jones, 2nd Viscount Ranelagh and Katherine Boyle, daughter of the Earl of Cork who counted amongst her brothers the chemist Robert Boyle and Lord Broghill, the later Earl of Orrery who was a prominent politician in Cromwellian and Restoration times. Jones's mother was estranged from her husband who appears to have been a drunkard and Richard Jones was largely brought up in his mother's household in London.

Irish parliamentary career

Following the Restoration of Charles II he became a member of the Irish Parliament for Roscommon, and in 1668 was appointed to the Privy Council of Ireland. In the Irish parliament, Ranelagh was associated initially with the group which opposed the land settlement being proposed by Ormond, the then viceroy, but upon appointment to the government as chancellor of the exchequer (a relatively minor role), he became a strong supporter of Ormond's. He accompanied the new Viceroy, Berkeley on his trip to England in 1671 when Lord Aungier (later earl of Longford), the vice treasurer, presented a grim view of Irish finances and crown debts. Ranelagh seized this opportunity to reinterpret the situation as one where the crown, far from being indebted, could reap a profit from Ireland if it managed monies owing to the crown and the government finances differently. Ranelagh was granted an 'undertaking' whereby he and a partnership took on the crown debts and effectively 'privatised' the treasury. Ranelagh was rewarded personally with his earldom and the role of vice-treasurer of Ireland. Throughout the whole of Essex's vice-royalty from 1672 to 1677 Ranelagh wielded real influence on the Irish government from Whitehall developing a strong relationship with the Earl of Danby, the English Treasurer who was effectively Charles's first minister.

English parliamentary career

When the undertaking finished in 1675 it was not renewed, but the Crown was now clear of all debts. Ranelagh ensured regular payments were made to the English Treasury, some of which paid for troops for Charles and some of which went to the renovation of Windsor Castle. This was largely achieved through short payment of the Irish army which was Ranelagh's training ground for his later embezzlements as Paymaster General to the English army. His skill, however, lay in his efficiency—for all his short payments the Irish army were in fact better paid than in the previous ill-managed regime. He ceased his involvement in Irish affairs in 1681 when the Irish treasury was handed over to a group of treasury commissioners.

Ranelagh remained closely associated with Danby after 1675, but when the latter fell from power he remained a loyalist to Charles and an associate of the Duchess of Portsmouth and of the Earl of Sunderland. He remained in royal favour during James IIs reign, but when William III and Mary II came to the throne he was able to transfer his loyalties and become a senior figure in the new regime (his old friend the Earl of Danby was one of the seven who signed the Invitation to William).

In 1670 he inherited his father's viscountcy, and in 1674 was created First Earl of Ranelagh. Both these peerages being in the Peerage of Ireland they did not disqualify him from sitting in the English House of Commons and in 1685 was elected as MP for Plymouth; in the same year he was appointed to the lucrative post of Paymaster of the Forces. He was subsequently member for Newtown (Isle of Wight), Chichester, Marlborough and West Looe, and was made a member of the English Privy Council in 1692.

Ranelagh was expelled from the Commons in 1703 when discrepancies were found in his accounts as Paymaster, and he was discovered to have appropriated more than £900,000 of public funds.

Family and later life

Ranelagh was well known in his time for enjoying life. He had a wife, Margaret Cecil, and three daughters by his first wife Elizabeth Willoughby, but there are suggestions[ by whom? ] that he was at least bisexual, and that he led a rakish life. He was known for his building works in terms of homes, his involvement with the building of Chelsea Hospital and his adjacent home Ranelagh house, which no longer exists but whose associated pleasure gardens were later transferred to the hospital and still bear his name. His country estate was Cranbourne Lodge, now in the Great Park at Windsor in Berkshire, where he was Ranger of Cranbourne Chase. He founded Ranelagh School at nearby Cranbourne (since moved to Bracknell).

Ranelagh died in 1712 and due to his lack of a legitimate male heir his earldom became extinct, and the viscountcy dormant. His son with Elizabeth, Edward Jones, styled Lord Navan, had died, age 3, on 29 March 1678.

Irish Properties

Richard Earl of Ranelagh owned very substantial properties in Co. Roscommon including the town of Roscommon, in Co.Dublin, Co. Meath and Co. Westmeath in the year 1704. [1]

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">James Butler, 1st Duke of Ormond</span> 17th-century Irish viceroy (1610–1688)

Lieutenant-General James FitzThomas Butler, 1st Duke of Ormond, KG, PC, was a statesman and soldier, known as Earl of Ormond from 1634 to 1642 and Marquess of Ormond from 1642 to 1661. Following the failure of the senior line of the Butler family, he was the second representative of the Kilcash branch to inherit the earldom.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Arthur Capell, 1st Earl of Essex</span> English noble

Arthur Capell, 1st Earl of Essex, PC, also spelt Capel, of Cassiobury House, Watford, Hertfordshire, was an English statesman.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Paymaster General</span> Ministerial position in the United Kingdom

His Majesty's Paymaster General or HM Paymaster General is a ministerial position in the Cabinet Office of the United Kingdom. The incumbent Paymaster General is Jeremy Quin MP.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Earl of Snowdon</span> Earldom in the Peerage of the United Kingdom

Earl of Snowdon is a title in the Peerage of the United Kingdom. It was created in 1961, together with the subsidiary title of Viscount Linley, of Nymans in the County of Sussex, by Queen Elizabeth II for her then brother-in-law, Antony Armstrong-Jones, who married Princess Margaret in 1960.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Thomas Osborne, 1st Duke of Leeds</span> 17th and 18th-century English statesman

Thomas Osborne, 1st Duke of Leeds,, was a prominent English politician. Under King Charles II, he was the leading figure in the government for around five years in the mid-1670s. He fell out of favour due to corruption and other scandals, and was impeached and eventually imprisoned in the Tower of London for five years until the accession of James II of England in 1685. In 1688 he was one of the Immortal Seven group that invited William III, Prince of Orange to depose James II as monarch during the Glorious Revolution. He was again the leading figure in government, known at the time as the Marquess of Carmarthen, for a few years in the early 1690s.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Duke of Leeds</span> Dukedom in the Peerage of England

Duke of Leeds was a title in the Peerage of England. It was created in 1694 for the prominent statesman Thomas Osborne, 1st Marquess of Carmarthen, who had been one of the Immortal Seven in the Revolution of 1688. He had already succeeded as 2nd Baronet, of Kiveton (1647) and been created Viscount Osborne, of Dunblane (1673), Baron Osborne, of Kiveton in the County of York and Viscount Latimer, of Danby in the County of York, Earl of Danby, in the County of York (1674), and Marquess of Carmarthen (1689). All these titles were in the Peerage of England, except for the viscountcy of Osborne, which was in the Peerage of Scotland. He resigned the latter title in favour of his son in 1673. The Earldom of Danby was a revival of the title held by his great-uncle, Henry Danvers, 1st Earl of Danby.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Earl of Ormond (Ireland)</span> Irish peerage

The peerage title Earl of Ormond and the related titles Duke of Ormonde and Marquess of Ormonde have a long and complex history. An earldom of Ormond has been created three times in the Peerage of Ireland.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Earl of Middlesex</span>

Earl of Middlesex was a title that was created twice in the Peerage of England. The first creation came in 1622 for Lionel Cranfield, 1st Baron Cranfield, the Lord High Treasurer. He had already been created Baron Cranfield, of Cranfield in the County of Bedford, the year before, also in the Peerage of England. He was succeeded by his elder son, the second Earl. On his early death in 1651 the titles passed to his younger brother, the third Earl. The titles became extinct when the latter died childless in 1674.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Wentworth Dillon, 4th Earl of Roscommon</span> 17th-century Irish earl and poet

Wentworth Dillon, 4th Earl of Roscommon (1637–1685), was an Anglo-Irish landlord, Irish peer, and poet.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">John Talbot, 2nd Earl of Shrewsbury</span> English nobleman

John Talbot, 2nd Earl of Shrewsbury, 2nd Earl of Waterford, 8th Baron Talbot, KG was an English nobleman and soldier. He was the son of John Talbot, 1st Earl of Shrewsbury, 1st Earl of Waterford, 7th Baron Talbot, 10th Baron Strange of Blackmere, and Maud Neville, 6th Baroness Furnivall.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Viscount Ranelagh</span> 1628 establishments in Ireland

Viscount Ranelagh was a title in the Peerage of Ireland. It was created on 25 August 1628 for Sir Roger Jones, son of Thomas Jones, Archbishop of Dublin and Lord Chancellor of Ireland. He was made Baron Jones of Navan, in the County of Meath, at the same time also in the Peerage of Ireland. Thomas Jones's father was Henry Jones, of Middleton in Lancashire. The first Viscount was succeeded by his eldest son, Arthur, the second Viscount, who represented Weobly in the English Parliament. Arthur was succeeded by his son, Richard, the third Viscount, who was created Earl of Ranelagh in the Peerage of Ireland in 1677. On Richard's death in 1712 the earldom became extinct while the barony and viscountcy became dormant.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Charles Butler, 1st Earl of Arran</span> Irish peer and soldier

Lieutenant-General Charles Butler, 1st Earl of Arran, de jure3rd Duke of Ormonde (1671–1758) was an Anglo-Irish peer. His uncle Richard was the 1st Earl of Arran of the first creation. The titles were re-created for Charles in 1693. His elder brother, the 2nd Duke of Ormonde, was attainted during the Jacobite rising of 1715, but in 1721 Arran was allowed to buy the estate back. At the death of the 2nd Duke, he succeeded as de jure 3rd Duke of Ormonde in the Peerage of Ireland but did not claim the title.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">James Butler, 5th Earl of Ormond</span> Anglo-Irish nobleman

James Butler, 5th Earl of Ormond, Earl of Wiltshire was an Anglo-Irish nobleman and soldier. Butler was a staunch Lancastrian and supporter of Queen consort Margaret of Anjou during the Wars of the Roses. He was beheaded by the victorious Yorkists following the Battle of Towton.

Baron Ranelagh, of Ranelagh in the County of Wicklow, was a title in the Peerage of Ireland. It was created on 18 April 1715 for Sir Arthur Cole, 2nd Baronet, who had earlier represented Enniskillen and Roscommon Borough in the Irish House of Commons. The Baronetcy, of Newland in the County of Dublin, was created in the Baronetage of Ireland in 1660 for his father Sir John Cole, 1st Baronet, a member of the Irish Parliament for County Fermanagh. He married Elizabeth Chichester, daughter of Lieutenant-Colonel John Chichester and the Honourable Mary Jones, daughter of Roger Jones, 1st Viscount Ranelagh, and aunt of Richard Jones, 1st Earl of Ranelagh. Lord Ranelagh was childless and the titles became extinct on his death in 1754.

Sir Roger Jones, 1st Viscount RanelaghPC (Ire) was joint Lord President of Connaught with Charles Wilmot, 1st Viscount Wilmot. He commanded the government forces in Connaught during the Irish Rebellion of 1641 and the beginning of the Irish Confederate Wars defending Athlone against James Dillon until February 1643.

William Harbord, of Grafton Park, was an English diplomat and politician who sat in the House of Commons at various times between 1661 and 1690.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Charles Bertie (senior)</span>

Captain Charles Bertie, of Uffington, near Stamford, Lincolnshire, was a British administrator, diplomat, and Tory politician who sat in the English and British House of Commons between 1678 and 1711. He rose to serve as Secretary to the Treasury under his brother-in-law, the Earl of Danby, from 1673 until 1679 but did not wield significant political power thereafter. He did, however, twice enjoy the office of Treasurer of the Ordnance before his death in 1711.

Thomas Coningsby, 1st Earl Coningsby PC of Hampton Court Castle, Herefordshire, was an English politician who sat in the House of Commons at various times from 1679 until 1716 when he was created a peer and sat in the House of Lords

The Great Stop of the Exchequer or Stop of the Exchequer was a repudiation of state debt that occurred in England in 1672 under the reign of Charles II of England.

Arthur Annesley, 5th Earl of Anglesey PC, PC (Ire), of Farnborough, Hampshire, Bletchingdon, Oxfordshire, and Knockgrenan, near Camolin, county Wexford, was an Anglo-Irish Tory politician who sat in the English and British House of Commons from 1702 to 1710 and in the Irish House of Commons from 1703 to 1710. He then succeeded as 6th Viscount Valentia and 5th Earl of Anglesey, joining both the British and Irish House of LordsIrish House of Lords. He served as Vice-Treasurer in Ireland from 1710 to 1716 and was a member of the regency commission upon the succession of George I.


  1. Lease at Herefordshire record Office
Peerage of Ireland
New creation Earl of Ranelagh
Preceded by Viscount Ranelagh
Title next held by
Charles Jones
Political offices
Preceded by Chancellor of the Exchequer of Ireland
Succeeded by