Jenny Jones was the famous subject of a song ‘Jenny Jones, or the Maid of Llangollen’ with words by the English comedian Charles (Charlie) Mathews (1776 – 1835) and music by John Parry (Bardd Alaw, 1776-1851). The melody was known in Wales by the name ‘Cader Idris’ and was printed in ‘Parry’s Welsh melodies’.
The song tells of the love that Edward Morgan, a sailor, had for her and how he had travelled the world and seen many famous people, but wished to return to Llangollen and make Jenny Jones, Jenny Morgan. Jenny Jones, normally with her milk can, was depicted in many prints, brass bells, china and other souvenirs.
Edward Morgan, her fiancé was the subject of print no. 1 in Rock and Co.’s numbered series, dated 1.5.1853; Jenny Jones has been listed as number 2 (but no numbered copies have been seen.) She was the subject of one of their prints, dated 1860 (see below).
It is said that the original Jenny Jones was a dairy maid of Pont Bleiddyn near Mold. (Wales Day by Day, Western Mail and South Wales News, 24.4.1933, p. 6)
Print of Jenny Jones, published by Rock and Co, 1852 and 1860
Jenny Jones and Ned Morgan (private collection)
Figurine of Jenny Jones with can and knitting, 11.5 cms high.
(Ceredigion Museum, 2008.27.17)
Edward Morgan and Jenny Jones, 10.7 cms high.
(Ceredigion Museum, 2008.27.17)
Brass bells of Jenny Jones, (Private collection)
Jenny Jones, part of a set of poor copies of earlier prints. Published S. and H. Levi, 66 Leadenhall Street, London, late 19th century.
Parry, John, [Cader Idris] : the favorite Welsh ballad of Jenny Jones written by Charles Mathews & sung by him … in the burletta of “He would be an actor” ; composed by John Parry. London : Published for the proprietor of Mme. Vestris’ Royal Olympic Theatre, by Cramer, Addison, & Beale, ; Parry, John, Jenny Jones ac Edward Morgan Llangollen : yn Gymraeg ac yn Saesoneg, Tôn – Cadair Idris, [gan] John Parry (Bardd Alaw); Y ferch garaf fi, Tôn – “Llwyn On”, [gan] Gwilym Morganwg. Caernarfon : Argraffwyd gan H. Humphreys, [n.d.]
The Welsh harper played the air of Cader Idris, better known as Jenny Jones in compliment to the composer, the writer of these sketches, who heard it sung, wistled and hummed throughout the whole tour.
Parry, J., (Bardd Alaw), A trip to North Wales, containing much information relative to that interesting Alpine country. London : Whittaker and Co. ; Caernarvon : W. Pritchard, , p.35
In the month of June, 1848, I quitted Holland in company with two friends, who were on their way to north Wales. We spent three months delightfully in the lovely neighbourhood of Dolgellau, and of Machynlleth, with occasional visits to Mallwyd where dwelt at that time the original Jenny Jones so celebrated in song. The last time that I was there she played to me on the Welsh harp. She was then handsome, but too fair and must have possessed a splendid figure.
Stretton, Charles, Memoirs of a chequered Life, (London, Richard Bentley, 1862) vol 2, p. 13
Jenny Jones was presumably not an uncommon name and two other famous Welsh Jenny Joneses are known. A Mrs Jenny Jones accompanied her husband to the Battle of Waterloo where she acted as nurse. She died in 1884 at the age of 94 and is buried at St Mary’s Church, Tal-y-Llyn. She was the subject of a children’s game.
Warner, Lisa, ‘Jenny Jones’ and ‘Kostroma’ in Folklore, 81, (1970), 276-279
Another, perhaps less famous Jenny Jones was the nurse-maid to Queen Victoria
Original drawing and watercolour ‘Jenny Jones’, by J.C. Rowlands, 1849 NLW PB3056
Another incomplete original drawing and watercolour, with only the Welsh hat completed. Signed JCR [J.C. Rowland] 1849, National Museum Wales A 16287
Print ‘Jenny Jones’ based on the above, with the musical notation of the song beneath, published by ‘H Humphreys, Castle Square, Carnarvon’
Jenny is shown wearing a silk Welsh hat and goffered cap; a long-sleeved bodice with a kerchief tucked into it; a check shawl folded lengthwise and tucked into the check flounced apron; a striped skirt and small shoes. She is knitting and carrying her tin can and is set in a landscape one mile from Llangollen.
Lithographs ‘Edward Morgan’ and ‘Jenny Jones’, by E. Walker after J. C. Rowland (National Museum of Wales 98.392).
print: Version of ‘Jenny Jones’ with music. Has some of the music to the song ‘Jenny Jones’, words by Charles Mathews, music by John Parry, published by Rock and Co. (Private collection)
Watercolour, Jenny Jones knitting ‘JCR [John Cambrian Rowlands] 1849’, National Museum of Wales A 16286
Incomplete watercolour, Jenny Jones knitting ‘JCR [John Cambrian Rowlands] 1849’ National Museum of Wales A 16287
Print, Jenny Jones, published by Rock and Co, 1860. In this late print, Jenny Jones is shown without her milk can. National Museum of Wales: 32/22,895
Postcard: ‘Jenny Jones’, published by Frith. NLW (201)
Anon, hand-coloured print of Jenny Jones, printed by Kohler, published by W. Spooner with the music to the song. 1860s. She is wearing a silk hat with large bow over a goffered cap; long-sleeved check V neck bodice with a kerchief tucked into it. The fabric around her shoulder may be a whittle or siol magu. She is knitting and has her distinctive tin can. One of the unusual features of this print is that ringlets of her hair are showing: it is rare for any hair to show in prints of women in Welsh costume. NLW PB8824
Anon, hand-coloured print of Jenny Jones, similar to the above, with musical notation of the song beneath. Artist: unknown (J.C. Rowland?) Publisher: Spooner, W.; printer: Kohler, W.
She is wearing a silk hat with large bow over a goffered cap; long-sleeved check V neck bodice with a kerchief tucked into it. The fabric around her shoulder and across her chest may be a whittle or siol magu. One of the unusual features of this print is that ringlets of her hair are showing: it is rare for any hair to show in prints of women in Welsh costume: it is normally completely tucked inside the cap, but it is possible that this indicates that she was not yet married. However, there are suggestions that caps were not worn until a woman was married, so the presence of a goffered cap might be the result of artistic licence.
In contrast, however, one tourist thought otherwise during a visit in 1835:
The headgear is the only becoming appurtenance – and this is graceful only on high-days and holy-days, when they court appearances. [The younger women] now generally conceal their hair altogether. Usually they tie the head and shoulders up in a handkerchief, the prevailing colour of which I think is a brownish yellow … It is tied under the chin, – the hair entirely hidden – and a man’s hat tied over that: but on some occasions the younger may be seen with a broad frill round their good-humoured chubby faces – drooping ringlets – and a hat, somewhat the shape of a lady’s riding hat, tastefully put on and neat. Then, oh then, all ye gentle swains, look out and take care of your hearts. A beautiful and virtuous woman is the sublimest of Heaven’s creation.
Anon (Pedestres), A Pedestrian Tour of Thirteen Hundred and Forty Seven Miles through Wales and England (1836), vol II, Chapter 1 p. 3-6
Answer to “Jenny Jones.” Jenny Jones to Edward Morgan. By L.M. Thornton, Author of “The Happy Change.” Publisher: Durham: Walker, Printer, [ca.1850?]