1900-1994 from Wales

clerk to the magistrate and acting magistrate at South Georgia 1925 to 1936, was the first man to be married at South Georgia on 12 March 1932 and therefore obtained South Georgia Marriage Certificate Number One.


Nelson Jones' on their wedding day -...

Alfred George Nelson Jones was born in Monmouthshire on 8 November 1900, the first of three sons[i] of Lewis Tom Jones, a mechanical engineer, born 1878, and his wife Amelia Elizabeth Arnold. He was educated at Abergele School, North Wales and at the Literary and Science Institute in the coal mining and steel making town of Ebbw Vale in the South Wales Valleys.

Nelson Jones’ wife Vera May Riches (1912-1996?) was the third child of Sydney Herbert Riches (1872-1957), a Stanley resident who had served as a government customs officer with the Dependencies whaling fleet 1919-31 and Annie Maud Newing (b.1882) the sister of Albert NEWING. Newing had been one of the first customs officers to serve at South Georgia under magistrate James Innes WILSON in 1913.


1928 Postage stamp surcharge; Nelson...

In January 1930 Vera was employed as a junior clerk by the government in Stanley. She was escorted to South Georgia in 1932 by her brother Reginald Riches (b.1909) so that she could be married. Reginald, described as a farm labourer, was a witness at the wedding. He then proceeded directly to the United Kingdom, in all probability by a Salvesen ship, through the courtesy of Leganger HANSEN, the manager of Salvesen's Leith Harbour whaling station, who was also a witness to the wedding. The wedding was presided over by the deputy registrar and acting magistrate, William BARLAS.

The Jones’ first child, Elizabeth Georgia Arnold Jones was born in Stanley on 6 January 1933 and baptised in Christ Church Cathedral, Stanley on 11 February 1933. Their second child Lorwerth Nelson Arnold Jones was born No.9 on the South Georgia register on 23 January 1934.


Unveiling of Shckleton memorial on...

Nelson Jones was appointed clerk to the magistrate at South Georgia, Edward BINNIE, on 18 September 1925 and from 2 April 1927 clerk to the acting magistrate William Barlas while Binnie was on extended leave (from 2 April 1927 to 31 January 1928, although Binnie resigned his office prior to August 1927).

Early in 1928 a shortage of the ½d and 2 ½d denomination postage stamps occurred on South Georgia. New supplies of stamps were delayed until the arrival of SS Fleurus in late February. Nelson Jones sought the Governor’s permission to manufacture a temporary surcharge. Permission was granted, and Leganger Hansen of Leith Station was asked to manufacture a 2½d metal die. The Governor stipulated that eight of the surcharged stamps be reserved for HM KING GEORGE V, who was a keen stamp collector. A total of 1,179 surcharged stamps were issued until the arrival of the Fleurus on 22 February 1928 with supplies of new stamps. Approximately half of the surcharged stamps were used on correspondence to Norway and England, and four sheets were supplied for the use of the crew of the RSS William Scoresby. Surcharged stamps on envelopes are very scarce and much prized by stamp collectors.

Nelson Jones continued in this role when Lieutenant Commander F. B. ALISON RN (Retd.) was appointed magistrate to succeed Binnie on 22 August 1927. In February 1928 he was present when Governor Sir Arnold HODSON unveiled a carved granite memorial erected over Shackleton's grave. As it happened, magistrate Alison remained at South Georgia for only a few months longer. He was, reported the governor, 'addicted to excessive drinking' and was sent home to the United Kingdom together with his wife and daughter on the Pesca transport ship Harpon on 16 May 1928, whereupon Nelson Jones temporarily took over the duties of magistrate.Alison’s post was finally filled by William Barlas on 27 September 1928, although the appointment was not officially confirmed until 3 April 1929.

Nelson Jones also performed the function of acting magistrate when the magistrate was on leave. He was also directed from time to time to undertake other work in the Treasury and Customs at Stanley at the behest of the colonial government. One of his more unusual appointments was to act as a constable forenforcing the legal arrest of the government chartered Norwegian flagged ship Fleurus during her voyage from Stanley and West Falkland to South Georgia commencing on 4 November 1931. It appears that there were concerns in government that the master who had replaced the respected Captain Lauritz CARLSEN had an addiction to alcohol and was unfit for command. Nelson Jones appears to have had good relations with the whaling communities and a working repartee with the whaling crews. In the philatelic world many postal items emanating from Nelson Jones at South Georgia have survived and these are now prized items for collectors.

In December 1932 Nelson Jones and his fellow customs officer Rumbolds acted as hosts for the visit to South Georgia by the Very Reverend Harold Lumsdale, the Dean of Christ Church Cathedral, Stanley and his son Ian on their visit to South Georgia, taking passage in the Fleurus. The visit coincided with the visit to South Georgia by the Royal Research Ship Discovery (Captain Carey). On the Saturday 17 December a memorial service was held at the grave of Sir Ernest SHACKLETON and on Sunday morning Holy Communion was held in the magistrate’s house followed by Matins which was said on the quarter-deck of the Discovery with Nelson Jones reading the lessons.

During the 1930s Nelson Jones continued to work as clerk to the magistrate and was also vested with the responsibility of Official administrator and Harbour Master. In 1936 he was granted leave from 16 May to 24 October which was further extended from 21 November to 7 December 1936. Government staff were being reduced on South Georgia for financial reasons, and Nelson Jones was not reappointed. There is no further record of his employment with the Falkland Islands government, after some eleven years in government service.

In September 1936 Alfred and Vera were recorded as living at Langley Road, Slough, Buckinghamshire, in close proximity to Vera’s parents Sydney and Annie, who with their daughter Constance had departed from the Falklands for England on 17 March 1932 and lived in the same place. In the meantime, Nelson Jones’s parents had moved from Ebbw Vale to more pleasant surroundings in Cardiff.

In 1937 Nelson Jones was appointed an officer in His Majesty’s Customs and Excise office in Takoradi, Gold Coast {now Ghana}, and from there he served at Lagos, Nigeria where he became the Chief Collector of Customs.

Nelson Jones was invalided out of office in the mid-1950s, and he died on 5 April 1994.


Stephen Palmer and Ian Hart


See: Malcolm Barton;  South Georgia - The Provisional Surcharged Issue of 1928; The Upland Goose Vol 7 No. 4 pages 121 to 141; June 1984



January 2024 Biography first added to Dictionary
April 2024 Heading corrected