The Boy Jones
From Buckingham Palace to the Mitchell River and everywhere in between
Bairnsdale is a town steeped in history, but have you ever heard the almost fictional sounding story of ‘The Boy Jones’?
A story of deception, breaking and entering, stalking and underwear theft brought Edward Jones from the United Kingdom to what was then small town of Bairnsdale in 1893.
Turns out this would be his final resting place when he succumbed to his fate – a drunken fall off the Mitchell River Bridge on Boxing Day resulting in him cracking his head on rocks and ultimately his death.
He is rumoured to be buried in the Bairnsdale Cemetery in an unmarked grave.
Edward Jones, adopted the name Thomas Jones in the 1880s in an attempt to escape his unwanted notoriety after becoming very well known to authorities in the UK for breaking into Buckingham Palace on numerous occasions.
Born in 1824, he was the son of a tailor in Westminster. His first known arrest was recorded in 1838, at the young age of 14, where he entered Buckingham Palace disguised as a chimney sweep.
It was said he never washed, was always filthy and was not an attractive character, so initially no one questioned his entry. He was caught on this occasion with Queen Victoria’s underwear stuffed down his trousers! He was acquitted by a jury on December 14.
One year later, just nine days after the birth of Queen Victoria’s first child, Princess Victoria, Jones scaled the wall of Buckingham Palace and left undetected.
A month later he broke in once again and was discovered hiding under a sofa in the Queen’s dressing room and was arrested, resulting in three months in a house of correction.
His prison stay did nothing to deter him and on March 15, 1841 he was caught once again by reinforced police guarding the palace. This time though he was sentenced to three months of hard labour. This incident caused much unrest at the palace and additional guards were appointed.
His stories have been told in a children’s book and the film ‘The Mudlark’ as well as the 2010 book ‘Queen Victoria’s Stalker: The Strange Case of the Boy Jones’ written by Jan Bondeson.
Stories say he was kidnapped and put on a ship bound for Brazil, but managed to find his way back the UK before being kidnapped once again and incarcerated on a prison ship, which was never allowed near the shore for fear of him escaping.
After six years on board he left an alcoholic and burglar and was eventually deported to Australia where he sold pies to make ends meet.
History tells us he some-how made his way back to the UK before being persuaded by his brother to once again return to Perth, where he oddly became the town crier of Perth.
In information taken from Bondeson’s book, Thomas Jones had been lodging with a local fireman named George Hadfield, who lived at Sarsfield.
Jones decided on Boxing Day to head to Bairnsdale to get something to drink after Hadfield had generously given him a Christmas gift of 10 shillings. Jones bought some spirits and laid down on the wing of the Mitchell River Bridge Swigging from his bottle. Apparently passers had spotted the old man and none had bothered to warn him it was a dangerous place to lay down.
Later that afternoon he rolled over the edge and fell 12 feet, striking his head on a rock resulting in his death.
There are many different stories circulating about this odd character, but all have the same ending, with Bairnsdale his final resting place.
It is relatively unknown how he made his way from Perth to Bairnsdale and why. If anyone has more to add to this fascinating story, we encourage you to add your comments or make contact with us.
Information sourced from Wikipedia.org & BBC News