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Michael Jones (Ardagh, 1606 – Dungarvan, December 1649) was a colonel who fought on the side of King Charles I of England during the Confederate Wars of Ireland, but with the beginning of the English Revolution joined the camp of the parliamentary army.
His father, Lewis Jones, was an Anglican bishop from Wales who settled in Ireland. In the year 1640 Michael entered the law school, King’s Inns, located in Dublin. However, with the outbreak of the Irish rebellion of 1641 he was drafted into the army of King Charles I, which he later abandoned to join the parliamentary troops (Roundheads) fighting as a cavalry officer in England. In 1645 he led the siege of Chester, and at the Battle of Rowton Heath played a decisive role in the parliamentary victory.
By 1647 his reputation was such that at the end of the first English civil war he was chosen to head the parliamentary expedition to Ireland. His former commander, the Royal Count of Ormonde, surrendered to him in June 1647, without any previous combat, and declared: “I prefer the English rebels to the Irish.” When Jones landed in Dublin, he had brought 5,000 English parliamentary soldiers with him. In addition, he inherited another 3,000 Royalist soldiers who had been under the command of Ormonde, who convinced them to join the parliamentary cause and to fight against the Irish Catholic Confederation.
Jones advanced to Trim, which was being besieged by a Confederate army from Leinster under General Thomas Preston. Both armies fought in the Battle of Dungan’s Hill, in which Jones defeated Preston and the Confederate troops, but in that process he exposed the city of Dublin to the enemy army. The confederation suffered a heavy blow with the loss of the Confederate soldiers of Leinster, since it was the best trained and equipped army they possessed.
Although Jones informed the English Parliament that he was at a favorable moment to begin the reconquest of Ireland, he kept protecting the city of Dublin, which was constantly being assaulted and burned by Owen Roe O’Neill and the Irish troops of Ulster. During the winter of 1647 to 1648 Jones’ soldiers suffered numerous diseases caused by shortages of supplies.
The Confederate defeat at Dungan’s Hill, along with other military failures, resulted in the Confederates allying themselves with the Realists commanded by the Count of Ormonde. Thus, with almost all of Ireland under the rule of the Royalists and declaring their allegiance to King Charles II of England, the English Parliament decided to send Oliver Cromwell to restore peace in Ireland. However, Ormonde led a preemptive strike against Dublin, hoping to prevent Cromwell and his troops from disembarking in the harbor. In August of 1646, Jones and his soldiers overturned the plan of the Realists, after defeating them in the Battle of Rathmines. The aforementioned victory allowed Cromwell’s expeditionary army to disembark unopposed two weeks later in Ringsend.
Later Jones participated in the campaign of conquest of Ireland, under the command of Cromwell, besieging Waterford and Duncannon. However, in December 1646, Jones died of fever in Dungarvan during the siege of Waterford. At that time he had the rank of Lieutenant General.
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