by Roger F.Vaughan B.A., B.Sc.
John Jones (c.1818-1881) was one of the most active members of the Cotteswold Club. He became the first Curator of Gloucester Museum in 1851 when he was thirty three years old. The Museum at that time was part of the Gloucester Literary and Scientific Association at 146 Westgate Street. John was quite an interesting character and certainly no ordinary academic. His father was a tanner in Brockworth and Jones started on a fairly good education at Blackfriars School, Gloucester. One of his fellow pupils, John Powell, rose to the status of Queen's Council and Member of parliament for Gloucester. John however ran away to sea at the age of twelve and spent much of his time in the Mediterranean and learnt the languages of the region.
On his return, he became a ship-broker in Gloucester Docks. In his spare time he continued his interests in languages, as well as a love of natural science and especially geology. He was a founder member of the Cotteswold Field Club in 1846, and was at the inaugural meeting with Sir Thomas Tancred, T.B.Lloyd Baker, S.P.Woodward and Dr Thomas Wright. He was at the second meeting of the Club when they visited Garden Cliff at Westbury on Severn, where the Rhaetic beds were examined. Jones was very much the enthusiast as shown by their third meeting when he went boating on the frozen lake at Hardwicke Court, breaking the ice to attempt to discover the winter habits of the freshwater molluscs. The rest of the party kept sensibly indoors inspecting the collections of Mammals, birds, plants, books, prints and curios.
In 1852, Jones complained of the "want of sympathy evinced by the public in supporting the museum" and announced his intention of removing the collection of fossils, shells etc. which had been presented under certain conditions, which had not been fulfilled. However, he was still Honorary Curator in 1860 when the Museum moved to new premises at the Black Swan in Southgate Street, Gloucester. He resigned in 1864 and soon after left Gloucester and went to live in Belgium for a time. Unfortunately there was a fire at the Black Swan in 1872 and some of his geology collection may have been lost. The present day Gloucester City Museum still has much of his fossil collection that includes excellent fossils from the Rhaetic Bone Bed of Garden Cliff, Westbury on Severn, and specimens that were referred to in Volume Three of the Cotswold Club's Proceedings.
Jones contributed thirteen papers to the Cotteswold Club, seven of these were purely geological. He named the small crustacean Estheria minuta from the Avicula contorta zone of the Lower Lias as found at Westbury on Severn. He became fascinated with the variation in the shells of the Liassic fossil oyster Gryphaea arcuata (incurva) and published a paper on this in the "Proceedings" of the Cotteswold Club with illustrations of the many different forms. He did some work on the transition beds between the Old Red Sandstone and the Lower Carboniferous at Drybrook in the Forest of Dean, with W.C.Lucy. Jones died at Leicester on January 5th, 1881 aged sixty-three.
Updated and corrected 20.6.1999
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