Allen Jones, colonial and state political leader, was born on December 24, 1739 in Edgecombe County, the son of Robert “Robin” Jones, colonial attorney general and land agent for Lord Granville, and his wife Sarah Cobb. Educated at Eton College in Great Britain alongside his brother Willie Jones, Allen Jones returned to the colonies to build a large plantation home, “Mt. Gallant,” on the Northampton County side of the Roanoke River.
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During the 1760s, Jones spoke out against British imperial tax policies such as the Stamp Act. From 1773 to 1775 he represented Northampton County in the Colonial Assembly, and actively opposed British policies as a member of the Committee of Safety in Halifax. The following year, on April 4, 1776, he served as the president of the Third Provincial Congress overseeing the formulation and distribution of the Halifax Resolves.
Despite having seen military service only briefly as a member of the army of Royal Governor William Tryon during the War of Regulation in 1771, Jones was appointed a brigadier general of North Carolina militia only three weeks after the Halifax Resolves. He continued to serve in that capacity for the remainder of the war, but saw active service only once, commanding a militia brigade in the disastrous Camden Campaign in the summer of 1780. A politician by nature, Jones wrote Governor Richard Caswell in September 1777, “I do not know whether my return is proper, for I confess my ignorance of military affairs.”
In 1778 Jones presided over the North Carolina Senate as speaker, and as a delegate to the Continental Congress in Philadelphia during 1779-1780. He continued to serve in the state senate throughout the 1780s, most notably developing a completely different political viewpoint than his more conservative brother Willie. During the Constitutional debates, Allen Jones became a staunch Federalist while his brother remained an advocate of states’ rights.
Jones married three times, first to Mary Hanes in 1762 and then, after her death, to Rebecca Edwards, the sister of Isaac Edwards, Lord William Tryon’s former secretary. After Rebecca’s death, Jones married Mary Eaton. From the three marriages, Jones had one son, who died at age eight, and three daughters. One daughter, Sarah, married William R. Davie, governor of North Carolina and founder of the University of North Carolina.
William S. Powell, ed., Dictionary of North Carolina Biography, III, 313--sketch by Timothy L. Howerton
Hugh Rankin, North Carolina in the American Revolution (1959)
Lawrence E. Babits and Joshua B. Howard, Fortitude and Forbearance: The North Carolina Continental Line in the Revolutionary War, 1775-1783 (2004)
Richard Caswell, Governors Papers, North Carolina State Archives, Raleigh