Thomas ap Catesby Jones

Last updated
Thomas ap  Catesby Jones
Thomas ap Catesby Jones.jpg
A young Jones
Born(1790-04-24)April 24, 1790 [1]
Westmoreland County, Virginia, U.S.
DiedMay 30, 1858(1858-05-30) (aged 68) [2]
Sharon, Virginia, U.S.
AllegianceFlag of the United States (1851-1858).svg United States
Service/branchUS Naval Jack 31 stars.svg  United States Navy
Years of service1805–1858
Rank USN commodore rank insignia.jpg Commodore
Commands held USS Peacock
Pacific Squadron
Battles/wars War of 1812 Capture of Monterey
Mexican–American War

Thomas ap  Catesby Jones (24 April 1790 – 30 May 1858) was a U.S. Navy commissioned officer during the War of 1812 and the Mexican–American War.


Early life and education

Thomas ap Catesby Jones was born on 24 April 1790 in Westmoreland County, Virginia, to Catesby and Lettice (Turberville) Jones. The Jones family had originated in Wales and the middle name "ap Catesby" was a gesture to the patronymic surnames traditionally used in Wales; Thomas ap Catesby in Welsh means "Thomas, son of Catesby". [1]

Jones' father died on 23 September 1801 leaving the family destitute. Jones and his older brother, Roger were taken in by an uncle, Meriwether Jones of Richmond, Virginia. His mother died in December 1804 after a long illness leaving Jones an orphan at age 14. His uncle provided for his and his brother's education at Richmond Academy until the expense of private school became a burden. They studied with a private tutor after leaving the school. [3] Roger Jones later became Adjutant General of the U.S. Army. [4]

War of 1812

Battle of Lake Borgne, Louisiana BattleLakeBorgneHornbrook.jpg
Battle of Lake Borgne, Louisiana

Jones was appointed a midshipman in the U.S. Navy on 22 November 1805 at the age of fifteen. Owing to a lack of openings for midshipmen he was not ordered to active duty. He was furloughed home and advised to study geography, navigation, and surveying so that his chances of getting an active assignment would improve. After the Chesapeake–Leopard Affair, the Navy mobilized its gunboats and Jones was ordered to report to Norfolk, Virginia, where he was assigned to gunboat No. 10, reporting the first week of August 1807. [5]

Thomas Jones received honors for bravery at the Battle of Lake Borgne (1814), Louisiana, delaying the British before the Battle of New Orleans. [6]

Between wars

In 1826, Commodore Jones while in command of the veteran sloop-of-war Peacock , signed treaties with the Kingdom of Tahiti and Hawaiian Kingdom On September 6, 1826, Jones signed a treaty with Queen regent Pōmare Vahine on the behalf of the infant Pōmare III and other chiefs of Tahiti. On December 23, 1826, Jones signed a treaty with Queen regent Kaʻahumanu and other chiefs of Hawaii on behalf of the young Kamehameha III. [7] [8] [9] [10] In 1827, Peacock was severely damaged in an attack by a whale. [11] Upon return to New York in October 1827, she was decommissioned and broken up in 1828. She was rebuilt as Peacock (1828), to serve as an exploration ship of the United States Exploring Expedition. Jones was to have commanded the expedition, but lack of funding delayed the expedition until 1838, by which time he had resigned the appointment. [12]

In May 1836, an act of Congress authorized the President to establish the five year United States Exploring Expedition "to the Pacific Ocean and South Seas", the first extra-continental American scientific exploration. Jones was appointed Commander of the Expedition. Delays in Expedition departure dates, and various other disagreements, led to Jones (and certain scientists, including botanist Asa Gray) declining the position in December 1837. The position was subsequently offered to Charles Wilkes.

From 1841 to 1844, Jones commanded the United States Pacific Squadron, and again from 1848 to 1850. In 1842, four years before the start of the Mexican–American War, Jones mistakenly thought that war had begun. He seized the California port of Monterey and held it for one day before returning control to Mexico. [13]

Hearing that British Captain Lord George Paulet had seized the Hawaiian Kingdom, he sailed there and arrived July 22, 1843. The king was restored July 31, and Jones tried to hasten peace by hosting all parties to dinner aboard his ship. [14]

In 1843, Jones returned a young deserter, Herman Melville, to the U.S. from the Sandwich Islands, as the Hawaiian Islands were then known. Later, Melville modeled "Commodore J—" in Moby-Dick , and the Commodore in White-Jacket after Jones. [15] In 1827 Peacock under Jones's command had been severely damaged in an attack by a whale, which Melville took to have been a sperm whale. [11] Moby-Dick may have partially inspired the story told of Jones in Chapter 45 "The Affidavit". [16]

By early 1844 Alexander Dallas had replaced Jones as Pacific commander. [14]

Mexican War

In 1848, Jones arrived in Mazatlán just at the end of the Mexican–American War, maintaining order until he could transport those who had aided the United States in that war to Monterey. [17]

Grave of Thomas ap Catesby Jones in the cemetery of the Lewinsville Presbyterian Church, Lewinsville, Virginia Grave of Thomas ap Catesby Jones with surroundings.jpg
Grave of Thomas ap Catesby Jones in the cemetery of the Lewinsville Presbyterian Church, Lewinsville, Virginia

Later career

For the next two years, during the chaotic Gold Rush days, Jones provided a U.S. Navy presence in the San Francisco area while the United States debated what to do with the newly acquired California Territory. [18]

In 1850, in a politically charged court-martial shortly after White-Jacket was published, Jones was found guilty on three counts mostly related to "oppression" of junior officers and relieved of command for two-and-a-half years. In 1853, President Millard Fillmore reinstated him and in 1858, the United States Congress restored his pay. [19]

See also



  1. 1 2 Smith, p 3
  2. Smith, p 161
  3. Smith, pp 6–8
  4. Smith, p 45
  5. Smith, p 11
  6. Smith, pp 29–32
  7. Stauffer, pp 4142
  8. Kuykendall 1965, pp. 435–436
  9. Newbury 1980, p. 70
  10. Pritchard 1983, p. 53
  11. 1 2 Smith, p 68
  12. Stanton, pp 35-66
  13. Stauffer, p 42
  14. 1 2 Gapp, pp 101–121
  15. Stauffer, pp 4243
  16. Smith, p 151
  17. Bauer, p 232
  18. Smith, pp 132–147
  19. Smith, pp 159–160


  • Bauer, K. Jack (1969). Surfboats and Horse Marines: U.S. Naval Operations in the Mexican War, 184648. Annapolis, Maryland: United States Naval Institute.
  • Gapp, Frank W. (1985). "The Kind-Eyed Chief: Forgotten Champion of Hawaii's Freedom". Hawaiian Journal of History. Hawaii Historical Society. 19: 101–121. hdl:10524/235.
  • Kuykendall, Ralph Simpson (1965) [1938]. The Hawaiian Kingdom 1778–1854, Foundation and Transformation. 1. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press. ISBN   0-87022-431-X. OCLC   47008868.
  • Maxwell, Richard T. (1955). Visit to Monterey in 1842. Los Angeles: Glen Dawson. Retrieved 18 January 2020.
  • Newbury, Colin W. (1980). Tahiti Nui: Change and Survival in French Polynesia, 1767–1945 (PDF). Honolulu: University Press of Hawaii. hdl:10125/62908. ISBN   978-0-8248-8032-3. OCLC   1053883377.
  • Pritchard, George (1983). The Aggressions of the French at Tahiti: And Other Islands in the Pacific. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN   978-0-19-647994-1. OCLC   10470657.
  • Smith, Gene A. (2000). Thomas ap Catesby Jones. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press. ISBN   978-1-55750-848-5.
  • Stanton, William (1975). The Great United States Exploring Expedition. Berkeley, California: University of California Press. ISBN   0520025571.
  • Stauffer, Robert H. (2009). "The Hawai'i-United States Treaty of 1826" (PDF). eVols. University of Hawaii at Manoa. Retrieved 5 December 2015.

Related Research Articles

Tahiti Largest island of French Polynesia

Tahiti is the largest island of the Windward group of the Society Islands in French Polynesia, located in the central part of the Pacific Ocean. Divided into two parts, Tahiti Nui and Tahiti Iti, the island was formed from volcanic activity; it is high and mountainous with surrounding coral reefs. Its population is 133,627 inhabitants (2020), making it the most populous island of French Polynesia and accounting for 68.7% of its total population.

USS <i>United States</i> (1797) First of the six original frigates of the U.S. Navy

USS United States was a wooden-hulled, three-masted heavy frigate of the United States Navy and the first of the six original frigates authorized for construction by the Naval Act of 1794. The name "United States" was among ten names submitted to President George Washington by Secretary of War Timothy Pickering in March of 1795 for the frigates that were to be constructed. Joshua Humphreys designed the frigates to be the young Navy's capital ships, and so United States and her sisters were larger and more heavily armed and built than standard frigates of the period. She was built at Humphrey's shipyard in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and launched on 10 May 1797 and immediately began duties with the newly formed United States Navy protecting American merchant shipping during the Quasi-War with France.

USS <i>Vincennes</i> (1826)

USS Vincennes (1826) was a 703-ton Boston-class sloop of war in the United States Navy from 1826 to 1865. During her service, Vincennes patrolled the Pacific, explored the Antarctic, and blockaded the Confederate Gulf coast in the Civil War. Named for the Revolutionary War Battle of Vincennes, she was the first U.S. warship to circumnavigate the globe.

USS <i>Ohio</i> (1820)

The second USS Ohio was a ship of the line of the United States Navy, rated at 74 guns, although her total guns was 104. She was designed by Henry Eckford, laid down at Brooklyn Navy Yard in 1817, and launched on 30 May 1820. She went into ordinary and in the ensuing years decayed badly. Refitted for service in 1838, Ohio sailed on 16 October 1838 to join the Mediterranean Squadron under Commodore Isaac Hull. Acting as flagship for two years, she protected commerce and suppressed the slave trade off the African coast. Ohio proved to have excellent performance under sail, repeatedly making more than 12 kn. One of her officers stated, "I never supposed such a ship could be built—a ship possessing in so great a degree all the qualifications of a perfect vessel." In 1840, Ohio returned to Boston where she again went into ordinary. From 1841–1846, Ohio served as receiving ship.

California Republic Unrecognized breakaway state from Mexico

The California Republic, or Bear Flag Republic, was an unrecognized breakaway state from Mexico, that for 25 days in 1846 militarily controlled an area north of San Francisco, in and around what is now Sonoma County in California.

Charles Wilkes

Charles Wilkes was an American naval officer, ship's captain, and explorer. He led the United States Exploring Expedition, 1838-1842. His behavior led to two convictions by court-martial, one stemming from the massacre of almost 80 Fijians on Malolo in 1840. During the American Civil War (1861–1865) he commanded USS San Jacinto during the Trent Affair, where he stopped a Royal Mail Ship and removed two Confederate diplomats, which almost led to war between the US and the UK.

USS <i>Dale</i> (1839)

USS Dale (1839) was a sloop-of-war in the United States Navy commissioned on 11 December 1839. Dale was involved in the Mexican–American War, the American Civil War, operations along Africa to suppress slave trade, and was used in the U.S. Coast Guard, among other activities. Dale was placed into ordinary numerous times.

Catesby ap Roger Jones

Catesby ap Roger Jones was an officer in the U.S. Navy who became a commander in the Confederate Navy during the American Civil War. He assumed command of CSS Virginia during the Battle of Hampton Roads and engaged USS Monitor in the historic first battle of the two ironclads.

Pacific Squadron

The Pacific Squadron was part of the United States Navy squadron stationed in the Pacific Ocean in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Initially with no United States ports in the Pacific, they operated out of storeships which provided naval supplies and purchased food and obtained water from local ports of call in the Hawaiian Islands and towns on the Pacific Coast. Throughout the history of the Pacific Squadron, American ships fought against several enemies. Over one-half of the United States Navy would be sent to join the Pacific Squadron during the Mexican–American War. During the American Civil War, the squadron was reduced in size when its vessels were reassigned to Atlantic duty. When the Civil War was over, the squadron was reinforced again until being disbanded just after the turn of the 20th century.

United States Exploring Expedition An American exploring and surveying expedition, 1838 to 1842

The United States Exploring Expedition of 1838–1842 was an exploring and surveying expedition of the Pacific Ocean and surrounding lands conducted by the United States. The original appointed commanding officer was Commodore Thomas ap Catesby Jones. Funding for the original expedition was requested by President John Quincy Adams in 1828, however, Congress would not implement funding until eight years later. In May 1836, the oceanic exploration voyage was finally authorized by Congress and created by President Andrew Jackson.

USS <i>Peacock</i> (1813)

USS Peacock was a sloop-of-war in the United States Navy during the War of 1812.

Josiah Belden

Josiah Belden was an American pioneer and politician.

Juan Bautista Alvarado

Juan Bautista Valentín Alvarado y Vallejo was a Californio politician that served as Governor of Alta California from 1837-42. Prior to his term as governor, Alvarado briefly led an movement for independence of Alta California from 1836-37, in which he successfully deposed interim governor Nicolás Gutiérrez, declared independence, and created a new flag and constitution, before negotiating an agreement with the Mexican government resulting in his recognition as governor and the end of the independence movement.

Lawrence Kearny

Commodore Lawrence Kearny was an officer in the United States Navy during the early nineteenth century. In the early 1840s he began negotiations with China which opened that country to U.S. trade and pointed the way toward the American Open Door Policy a half century later. He was Mayor of Perth Amboy, New Jersey in 1848.

Thomas O. Larkin

Thomas Oliver Larkin was an early American businessman in Alta California, and was appointed to be the United States' first and only consul to Mexican Alta California. After the Mexican–American War ended in 1848, Larkin moved to San Francisco, and was a signer of the original California Constitution.

Hawaiian Kingdom–United States relations Diplomatic relations between the Hawaiian Kingdom and the United States of America

Hawaiian Kingdom–United States relations refers to the historical relationship between the independent Hawaiian Kingdom and the United States. Relations included several treaties and exchanges of trade and diplomatic representatives from 1820 to 1893.

Paulet affair Occupation of the Hawaiian Islands

The Paulet affair was the five-month occupation of the Hawaiian Islands in 1843 by British naval officer Captain Lord George Paulet, of HMS Carysfort.

Capture of Monterey

The Capture of Monterey by the United States Navy and Marine Corps occurred in 1842. After hearing false news that war had broken out between the United States and Mexico, the commander of the Pacific Squadron Thomas ap Catesby Jones sailed from Lima, Peru with three warships to Monterey, California. The Americans' objective was to take control of the capital city before a suspected British cession could be achieved.

Hawaii–Tahiti relations Diplomatic relations between the Hawaiian Kingdom and Tahiti

Hawaii–Tahiti relations refers to the historical relationship between the independent Hawaiian Kingdom and the Kingdom of Tahiti. Relations included one treaty, proposed marriage alliances and exchanges of trade and diplomatic representatives from the early 1800s to 1880.

Franco-Tahitian War

The Franco-Tahitian War or French–Tahitian War (1844–1847) was a conflict between the Kingdom of the French and the Kingdom of Tahiti and its allies in the South Pacific archipelago of the Society Islands in modern-day French Polynesia.