Who Was David Jones?
No records have yet appeared which indicate that Taghmon ever had its
own newspaper. However, in 1835 an attempt was made to publish a
Taghmon newspaper or news sheet, within the pages of a Wexford
town paper, 'The Wexford Independent'. Founded in 1830 and
owned and edited by John Greene, it had the enormous circulation
figure of 162,500 and was then the most important newspaper
circulating in the county. Greene was a Catholic, seven times Mayor
of Wexford and, in his early years a champion of many popular
causes. His newspaper was strongly supported by the Catholic clergy
and reflected the increasingly militant Catholic outlook of the times .
EDITION NO. 1
Under the date of 13 July 1835, the following letter appeared in the
There are three newspapers (such as they are) published in Wexford.
And why not? I find no fault with their existence. But I can see no
reason why there should not be one paper published in the improving.
and may I add, the independent town of Taghmon. It was my
intention for some time, to give a useful publication to the good people
of Taghmon, but was persuaded from the undertaking by prudential
reasons. But, Sir, if you consent to give me space in your broad-sheet,
I will promise never to occupy more than a column, and every good
object I had in view may be attained. As to profits, you know that we,
gentlemen of the press care but little for that, provided we can
enlighten the public mind. I have made all my arrangements, and I
see no reason why we should not begin at once.'
There followed the first edition of The Common Sense or The
Taghmon Rational Gazette. Four further editions were to follow in
the pages of the 'Wexford Independent' - No.2 dated 25 July 1835;
No. 3 dated 27 July 1835; No. 4 dated 10 August 1835 and No. 5 dated
20 August 1935. These five editions were notable for very flowery
prose, pungent, sarcastic comment, biting satire and knowledgeable
forthright commentary on the current political events in the town of
Wexford and further afield. It usually occupied one full column or
slightly more in 'The Wexford Independent'.
Edition No. 1 began with this tongue-in-cheek introduction: 'The
foreign journals contain no news of importance; there may be some
fighting in Spain . If I thought the Common Sense would find its way
to them, I would give them some advice that would be of use to them.'
It went on to chastise Mr. Matthew Pettit concerning his lack of
knowledge about his relationship to Mr. J. Power MP. Matthew Pettit
was to become Mayor of Wexford, in 1838, and J. Power was one of
the Wexford brewing family.
The first edition was signed as follows: 'Published for the author -
David Jones' and a note at the end of this first edition from the editor
of ''The Wexford Independent'' signified his willingness to publish the
ramblings of the Taghmon journalist: 'We assure our respected
Taghmon contemporary, that contrary to the received doctrine- ''two of
a trade'' &c., we are likely to pull in the same harness, until we reach
the gaol (sic)of constitutional freedom. Although our contemporary
confesses to be a younker in politics, his first essay ('number', we beg
your pardon) wears all the appearance of a refined maturity of
judgement - and minute acquaintance with the political world; and we
shall therefore devote a column hebdomadally to his exclusive use;
and as to the profits accruing from the undertaking, we can settle this
matter, on that ''day of reckoning'' significantly mentioned in holy
IDENTIFYING 'DAVID JONES'
As can readily be seen, David Jones's writings were sarcastic,
tongue-in-cheek and not without humour. He professed to have the
solution to all the ills of the world and his writings reflected the
outpourings of a well-educated man of somewhat arrogant disposition.
Identifying him proved a difficult task, as he was not listed in 'Slater's
1846 Directory' or in any other lists from the period. 'Griffiths
Valuations', published in 1853, lists a Margaret Jones residing at
Chapel St., Taghmon. The birth records of the family of Leo Jones of
Whiterock South, Wexford (formerly of Taghmon) go back to the
1840's - but no David appears . It is of course, very possible that
'David Jones' was a non-de-plume, in which case it is unlikely that the
identity of the editor of The Taghmon Rational Gazette will ever be
EDITION NO. 2
Edition No. 2 began with a criticism of the compositors of 'The
Wexford Independent' for mistakes made in the first edition of The
Taghmon Rational Gazette and a request that they 'will not clip whole
sentences from any part as we assure them it cannot be spared ---'.
There followed a long paragraph, written in editorial style, on the
subject of the mayoral elections in Wexford. In it David Jones railed
against 'Monied pride, intellectual narrowness, selfishness of purpose'.
He seemed particularly disturbed at the methods used to elect Mr.
Frank Harper as Mayor. 'Did not every thing Orange, every thing
illiberal, every thing anti-popular, flock to its standard and assist it, in
making a Mayor. Did not the big Orange aristocracy, and the little
monied aristocracy join, and coalesce, and work hard against the
The Taghmon Rational Gazette was now attracting correspondence
and David Jones answered them at the foot of his column with an
imperious few words of dismissal!
This edition also carried a sarcastic attack on Jemmy Howlin, who
was 'a particularly pugnacious and litigious Protestant gentleman of
the Co. Wexford' . This must have delighted John Greene, who
teased Howlin at length in his columns and a few years later, in 1836,
found himself as plaintiff in a libel action taken by Howlin.
EDITION NO. 3
It began with the following: 'Two little numbers of The Common
Sense have just made their appearance in this strange world. Enough,
we have already, even in our very infancy, roused the spite of that
sagacious print, the Freeman' . Aye, how free he is! Why he should
attack us so soon we are at a loss to conjecture. Is it with our name
that he quarrels, or is it we said that the lovers of scandal, in this town,
were amusing themselves with the report, of certain gentlemen in
Wexford doffing their hats, as they passed the Bank. If this be the
cause, we assure him the report did not originate with us. Or, is it
because we informed Mr. Pettit of some of his family connections? If
this be the cause, we entreat him to go and learn a little Common
Sense. It will profit him more than quarrelling with us. But if he
takes not our advice, and fight he must, the fight (for what we write)
must be with us and not with the 'Independent'; and we can tell him -
bantlings though we be - he will find, we are not all out dunghills.'
The outpourings of David Jones were beginning to raise hackles in
establishment quarters in Wexford and may have led to some
nervousness in the confines of 'The Independent'. The comment -
'the fight...must be with us and not with the Independent ' may have
been inserted at the behest of the 'Independent's editor , as a
clarification that the views expressed were solely those of Mr. Jones.
Libel cases involving the paper were a common occurrence and were
becoming a burden on its proprietor, John Greene. Some
encouragement for David Jones came in the 3rd edition in the form of
a letter from 'Humanitas of Tagoat' who wrote to the 'Independent'
complimenting the content of The Common Sense.
EDITION NO. 4
Edition No.4 began with a tirade against the current political
situation in France . There follows a long diatribe concerning the
murder of Rev. Mr. Walsh and suggestions as to what faction
represent the perpetrators. David Jones is in no doubt that an Orange
faction was responsible and some of his comments, in this edition, are
anti-loyalist in the extreme. 'Humanitas of Tagoat' had another letter
in this edition.
EDITION NO. 5
Edition No. 5 began with another commentary on the French and
European political situation. Then, very quickly, it launched into
another violently anti-Orange tirade. '....Should the State say
justice to all -- the Orange monster roars louder and louder for blood.
Should he burst forth from his keepers, he might make but little
scruple whether he would slake his vengeance in a people's or a
monarch's blood. In the heat of rebellious frenzy, he might not be
content with ordinary fare. But the Orangemen must be protected!
Protected from what? Protected in villainy --plunder--and murder.'
A new correspondent in this edition was 'A Piercestown Farmer'
who wrote a long letter concerning the political affiliation of some of
Wexford's bankers. The bankers were named as Mr. Hughes of the
Provincial Bank and Mr. Redmond of the Bank of Ireland.
David Jones then goes on to pay a tribute to Mr. Sheppard Jeffares.
'We have been informed that Mr. Sheppard Jeffares, not long since,
went to visit his tenants, in the neighbourhood of Rathangan; he took
with him a few friends from town, and a cart load of good things. Mr.
Jeffares, we understand, is a Protestant, his tenants are Catholics; they,
with their venerable and patriotic pastor, and his worthy curate, were
invited to dine with Mr. Jeffares and his friends when they all had, as
we are informed, in deed and in truth, a "feast of reason and flow of
...(deleted). Many good speeches and patriotic sentiments were
delivered at the happy amalgamation of priest and parishioner,
landlord and tenant. Mr. Jeffares, we are told, when addressing the
tenants, informed them, that whenever election occurred, they were
perfectly free to vote as their conscience directed them, and if they did
otherwise, he would look on them as unworthy of his confidence.
Landlords of the county Wexford would you go and do likewise; the
example is worthy of your imitation. We regret that we did not know
of this dinner taking place, or we should have sent our reporter. --We
wish Mr. Jeffares and his happy tenantry every prosperity.'
Sheppard Jeffares was Mayor of Wexford in 1840,1846 and 1847. He
is listed as a grocer, spirit dealer and tallow handler at Main St.,
Wexford in 1846 . His residence was at Barntown Castle. He died in
1859 and is buried in Mulrankin .
THE END OF 'THE TAGHMON RATIONAL GAZETTE'
This was the last edition of the Taghmon 'newspaper'. The editor,
David Jones, may have died. A more likely eventuality however, is
that he was silenced by an increasingly nervous 'Wexford
Independent' who may have decided to withdraw editorial space for
the contentious musings of the Taghmon firebrand The targets of
David Jones's venomous outbursts were influential and important
people in Wexford, who would have been in a position to bring
pressure to bear on John Greene of 'The Wexford Independent', who,
in June 1834, had spent a week in gaol, having being found guilty of
criminal libel . Although Greene himself was not above regular
editorial barrages against anti-populous sentiments, he may have felt
that further risks of libel and the burden of habitually censuring the
Taghmon correspondent was more trouble than it was worth.
Whatever the reasons, no more was heard from
The Common Sense
or The Taghmon Rational Gazette and thus ended a five edition saga
of the only recorded 'newspaper' from Taghmon.
- 'as late as 1857 ..the 'Independent' was claiming a circulation of 162,500' --
- John Greene and the Wexford Independent in 'The Past' No. 17 p.6
- The three Wexford newspapers were: 'The Wexford Freeman' which failed
in 1838; 'The Wexford Conservative' which failed in 1846 and 'The Wexford
- This was the First Carlist War (1833-39) in Spain.
- Taghmon Catholic birth registers - at The Parochial House, Taghmon
(my thanks is due to Fr. Tom McCormick P.P. for permission to inspect these
- 'John Greene and the Wexford Independent' in The Past No. 17
- This refers to 'The Wexford Freeman'
- a young child or brat.
- This refers to the unrest in France during the monarchy of Louis Philippe.
Initially welcomed by the business interests and professional classes, the new
ruler eventually lost favour and was dislodged in the February Revolution of
1848 which established the Second Republic.
- Rev. Mr. Walsh was a Catholic clergyman of Borris, Co. Carlow who was
murdered in 1835.
- Slater's 1846 Directory of Wexford, Enniscorthy, New Ross and Taghmon.
- 'Wexford - A Municipal History' by Padge Reck
- 'John Greene and the Wexford Independent' in The Past No. 17 p.9
Journal of The Taghmon Historical Society