Jones, Roger (d. 1644), 1st Viscount Ranelagh , politician, was the only son and heir of Thomas Jones (qv), archbishop of Dublin and lord chancellor of Ireland, and Margaret, daughter of Adam Purdon of Lurgan-Race, Co. Louth. The family held estates throughout the Pale, principally in Co. Meath, but Roger's political future lay in the province of Connacht. In 1607 he was knighted in Drogheda by the lord-deputy, Sir Arthur Chichester (qv), who also appointed him as constable of Sligo. A brawl on a tennis court involving Lord Howth (qv) and others, resulting in the death of one of the participants, briefly threatened his political career. He was summoned to London to answer for his conduct, but the intervention of Chichester, who described Jones as ‘a discreet young gentleman’ (CSPI, 1611–14, 61), salvaged his reputation. He represented the borough of Trim, Co. Meath, in the 1613 parliament, accompanied Chichester to England in 1614, and was granted over 1,000 acres in the Wexford plantation as a result of his close links with the lord deputy. His father died in 1619, by which time Jones had already obtained a seat on the Irish council. The following year, however, he was suspended from the council table, following a clash with the lord deputy, Sir Oliver St John (qv). He travelled to London, where he associated with the opposition to the duke of Buckingham, serving as a member of the committee of inquiry into government policy in Ireland.
He returned to the Irish council in May 1622, and the following year helped compile a report on the progress of the Ulster plantation. In 1626 Jones replaced Sir Charles Wilmot (qv) as vice-president of Connacht, received 1,000 acres in the Wicklow plantation, and in 1628 was granted the title Viscount Ranelagh. He consolidated his social and political status by marrying his son and heir, Arthur, to Katherine, daughter of the powerful Richard Boyle (qv), earl of Cork. In 1630 Ranelagh was appointed joint lord president of Connacht, a position he held for the rest of his life. He sided with Cork in opposing the lord-deputy, Thomas Wentworth (qv), during the 1630s, going so far as to support catholic demands for concessions at the 1634–5 parliament. Ranelagh briefly allied himself with the lord deputy over plans for an extensive plantation in Connacht, but conflicting ambitions in the province led to a permanent estrangement between the two men. By 1640 he was firmly in the anti-Wentworth camp, plotting against the lord-deputy with Sir William Parsons (qv) and Sir Adam Loftus (qv). Ranelagh gave evidence at Strafford's trial in England, but his own administrative practices in Connacht were also coming under intense scrutiny at this time. The English council considered charges of corruption levelled against him by Henry Dillon, while an attempt by the catholic members of the Irish parliament to impeach the lord president was only narrowly thwarted in June 1641.
Absent from Connacht when the Ulster revolt erupted in October 1641, Ranelagh returned to his command at the head of sixty cavalry and 100 foot. Sir James Dillon (qv) besieged him at Athlone early in 1642 until a relief force of 2,000 men, despatched by James Butler (qv), 12th earl of Ormond, broke through the loose rebel cordon. Ranelagh opposed the hard-line policy of the lords justices in Dublin, a stance that earned him the criticism of Sir Michael Earnley and other protestant military commanders in Connacht. In October 1642, with the help of Ulick Burke (qv), 5th earl of Clanricarde, he arranged a three-month cease-fire with the rebels in the province. The following year, failing health and a critical lack of supplies reduced his effectiveness in office, and he died in January 1644 while attending the king in Oxford. Ranelagh married Frances (d. 1620), daughter of Garret Moore (qv), 1st Viscount Drogheda, and secondly Catherine, daughter of Sir Henry Longueville of Wolverton, Buckinghamshire. He was succeeded by Arthur, who had represented Sligo in the 1634 parliament and Weobly in the English house of commons from 1640 onwards. Arthur eventually sided with the parliamentarians during the English civil war and fought in the army of the commonwealth.