Roderick Jones (journalist)

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Sir George Roderick Jones (21 October 1877 – 23 January 1962) was a British journalist and news agency manager, who for most of his career worked for Reuters. From 1916, he was a significant shareholder in the company.

Roderick Jones
Roderick Jones.jpg
George Roderick Jones

(1877-10-21)21 October 1877
Died23 January 1962(1962-01-23) (aged 84)
OccupationJournalist, later head of Reuters


Jones was born in Dukinfield, Cheshire, the only son of Roderick Patrick Jones, a Manchester hat salesman, by his marriage to Christina Drennan Gibb.[1] His parents had been married at St Saviour's church, Manchester, on 13 September 1877, the month before his birth. His father was then a salesman, and his grandfather, John Jones, a butcher.[2]

In 1894, Jones took up an invitation to join an aunt in Pretoria, then in the South African Republic. In 1895, he took a job as sub-editor on the Pretoria Press and later that year became an assistant to the Reuters correspondent in the Republic. In 1896, Jones's interview with Leander Starr Jameson in the aftermath of the Jameson Raid was networked internationally.[1] In 1905, he became general manager of the Reuters office for British South Africa.[3]

In April 1915, during the First World War, the Reuters general manager in London, Baron Herbert de Reuter, killed himself a few days after his wife had died, and with the company in financial difficulties. In October 1915, Jones was appointed as general manager.[1] In 1916, he and the company chairman, Mark Napier, who was himself a financier, bought the company, with money being advanced to Jones by Sir Starr Jameson, chairman of the British South Africa Company.[4] During the rest of the War, Reuters followed a carefully patriotic line, so much so that Jones was accused of being the British government's Head of Propaganda. He was knighted in the 1918 New Year Honours, in recognition of his services to journalism.[1] In 1923, Reuters became the first news agency to use radio for sending news to its subscribers.[5]

Jones became chairman of Reuters as well as general manager and retired from those posts in 1941.[1] The company was restructured, so that its ownership was transferred to the newspapers subscribing to it.[5] In 1951, Hodder & Stoughton published Jones's autobiography, A Life in Reuters.[6]

Jones had a house at 29 Hyde Park Gate, Westminster, where he died on 23 January 1962, and he was buried at Rottingdean, where he also had a home, North End House, previously owned by the artist Edward Burne-Jones.[1] An obituary in The Times said he had been one of only two or three leading figures in the world of news.[7] He left an estate valued at £38,042, and probate was granted on 14 May to his daughter Laurian, Comtesse d’Harcourt, wife of Comte Anne-Pierre d’Harcourt.[8]


In 1920, Jones married the author Enid Bagnold, and they had four children.[1] Their only daughter, Laurian, was born in 1921,[9] and was married first, from 1952 to 1955, to Rowland Winn,[10] and second to Anne-Pierre d’Harcourt, the son of Robert d'Harcourt.[8] A son, Timothy Angus Jones, was born in 1924[11] and later married Patricia David Pandora Clifford, daughter of Sir Bede Clifford,[12] becoming the father of Annabel Astor, who is the mother of Samantha Cameron.[13] A second son, Richard Bagnold Jones, was born in 1926 and became a writer on narrow-gauge railways;[14] A third son, Dominick, was born in 1930.[15] After working at Reuters, he lived on sailing ships, wrote a cookery book, and ran a small theatre. As of 2019, he was living in Cambridge, Massachusetts.[16]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Donald Read, Jones, Sir (George) Roderick (1877–1962), news agency director, in Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford University Press, 2004) online, accessed 15 April 2020 (subscription required)
  2. ^ Register of Marriages, p. 52, at, accessed 18 April 2020 (subscription required)
  3. ^ Michael B. Palmer, International News Agencies: A History, p. 75
  4. ^ G. N. S. Raghavan, PTI story: origin and growth of the Indian press and the news agency (1987), pp. 39, 87
  5. ^ a b Katie Allen, “Reuters: a brief history“, in The Guardian, 19 February 2017, accessed 20 April 2020
  6. ^ Roderick Jones, A Life in Reuters (Hodder & Stoughton, 1951), ISBN 978-1125911136
  7. ^ "Obituary: Sir Roderick Jones, a Lifetime at Reuters" in The Times (London), 24 January 1962, p. 15
  8. ^ a b "JONES sir George Roderick otherwise Sir Roderick K.B.E." in Probate Index for 1962, at, accessed 15 April 2020
  9. ^ "Jones Laurian / Bagnold" in Register of Births for Lewisham, vol. 1D (1921), p. S'22
  10. ^ Saint Oswald, Baron (UK, 1885) at, accessed 18 April 2020
  11. ^ "Jones Timothy A / Bagnold" in Register of Births for Woolwich, vol. 1d (1924), p. 1748
  12. ^ Burke's Peerage, vol. 1 (1999), p. 131
  13. ^ Melonie Clarke, Helena Gumley-Mason, "Samantha Cameron's Sari Diplomacy" in The Lady, 26 November 2013, archived here
  14. ^ "Jones Richard B / Bagnold" in Register of Births for St. George Hanover Square, vol. 1a (1926), p. 584; Richard Bagnold Jones at National Gallery, London, accessed 18 April 2020
  15. ^ "Jones Dominick / Bagnold" in Register of Births for Kensington, vol. 1a (1930), p. 156A
  16. ^ Home page and Literary & dramatic life at, accessed 19 April 2020

Further readingEdit

  • Donald Read, "Sir Roderick Jones and Reuters: Rise and Fall of a News Emperor", in D. Fraser, ed., Cities, Class and Communications, Essays in Honour of Asa Briggs (Harvester, 1990), pp. 175–199
  • Roderick Jones, A Life in Reuters (Hodder & Stoughton, 1951) ISBN 978-1125911136

External linksEdit