William Frederick Foxcroft Jones

25 June 1821–18 October 1880

William Frederick Foxcroft Jones
William Frederick Foxcroft Jones by Henry Taunt

Katharine Jones (1797–1845) gave birth to William in Brussels, where her brother, the Reverend Whitworth Russell, was chaplain at the British Embassy. The Prince of Orange (later King Willem Frederick II of the Netherlands 1772–1843) became the child’s godfather.

Katharine was the daughter of Sir Henry Russell, 1st Baronet, of Swallowfield, Berkshire (1751–1836) who had been Chief Justice of Bengal. She was the seventh of ten children, and had a reputation for wildness. Katharine had married Henry Jones of Stapleton, Gloucestershire when she was only 19. Their first born was Henry Whitworth Jones who went on to become a famous opera singer – a baritone, who performed in Italy, England and South America.

Katharine and Henry Jones obtained a legal separation almost immediately after William’s birth. She died in somewhat mysterious circumstances at the White Lion Inn at Banbury on 16th September 1845.

William and his brother Henry were educated at Winchester College, and then he went into the Army. He was serving in Canada in 1843 when he met and married Frances (Fanny) Street – the daughter of Judge Frederick Street of Fredericton, New Brunswick. He was only 22 and she 19. They had four children –

OTC board

They returned to England in the mid-1850s, and on 26th October 1860 William F. F. Jones was appointed Adjutant of the newly formed First Oxford Rifle Volunteer Corps which had been officially enrolled on 8th August the previous year. The boys were sent to Eton College. According to The Times, on 2nd December 1863, the Oxford University Rifles had a field day at Blenheim Palace under Lt Colonel Bowyer, assisted by William F. F. Jones, Adjutant. And in June 1864, he was created MA of the University.

The Oxford University Rifle Volunteers was officially enrolled on 8 August 1859. The newly mustered corps was reviewed on Cowley Marsh by the Prince of Wales, who gave the right to bear his feathers, which OUPC still wear. These feathers serve as a reminder that the OUPC (and the OURC) are the successors to OURV, along with the Oxford University Officers Training Corps; which was evolved out of the OURV under the Haldane reforms of 1908, when all the Rifle Volunteers were formed into the Territorial Army.

According to the Illustrated London News, 7 January 1860:

“The Oxford University Rifles consists of four companies, the numerical strength of each being seventy effectives. The uniform is of a light greyish-brown, braided with blue, the trousers are knickerbockers, and the cap is the same colour as the tunic. Two companies are armed with the long Enfield rifle, and two with the short. The entrance-fee is £1, and the yearly subscription the same. Drill takes place in the Armoury, Oxford, and the rifle-range is at Crowley [= Cowley] Marsh.”

During their time in Oxford, William and Fanny and their family lived variously at Park Town, at 34 Beaumont Street and finally at 40 St Giles’ Street.

William F. F. Jones remained adjutant of the Volunteers until 1878 and retired to Southsea where he died in 1880.

Amongst William and Fanny’s grandchildren were two famous brothers – Sir Felix Aylmer, the distinguished Shakespearian actor (1889–1979), and Air Chief Marshall Sir John Whitworth-Jones (1896–1981).

© Elizabeth Mills, 2006