“Jones's Ghost”


"Come list ye doctors all to me, For Jones's ghost I truly be.... I am that slaughtered, mangled man." Murderer Jones accuses Doctors Thorp and French of violating their promises to care for his body and threatens them with punishment after death


According to Burt, after Joshua Jones was convicted of murder, he sold his body to Dr. Amos French, adding the stipulation that French care for his child and also try to bring him back to life.

The former condition was fulfilled. French naturally failed to revive Jones, and eventually stripped the flesh from his bones; he wanted a skeleton for his own use. This poem arose out of public protest at what appears, from the records in Burt, to have been a perfectly legal behavior on French's part. (The desire for a skeleton was natural for a doctor; see the notes to "The Black Cook.")

There is no evidence that the poem ever entered tradition; it was printed in a newspaper, and it's really very bad. - RBW

Historical references

  • August 1838 - Joshua Jones murders his wife
  • May 29, 1839 - Execution of Jones


  1. Burt, pp. 20-21, "Jones's Ghost" (1 text)
  2. BI, Burt020


Author: unknown
Earliest date: 1958 (Burt); reportedly published c. 1880
Found in: US