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Jones, David (1793–1873)

from Australian Town and Country Journal

On Monday last a funeral procession of unusual extent passed through the streets of Sydney, and gave indication to every passer-by that a citizen of more than ordinary influence was being borne to his last earthly resting place. It was the funeral of Mr. David Jones, whose name has been familiar to the people of Sydney for about forty years, and whose generous use of abundant wealth has made him many friends.

David Jones was born at Llandeilo Fawr, county Carmarthen, in Wales, on the 8th March, 1793; so that he lived to complete his eightieth year. In his childhood he knew no language but the Welsh; and in his mother tongue he received the first elements of secular and religious education. He was apprenticed, in Carmarthen, to the drapery trade; and after serving his time, and acquiring behind the counter a familiar knowledge of the English tongue, he went into business on his own account. After some years he left the principality, and went to live in London. His first wife, the daughter of a Welsh minister of the Calvinistic Methodists, of whom he was wont to speak as a woman of exemplary piety, died at an early age, leaving no children; and after his settlement in London he married Miss Mander, the mother of his four sons and four daughters, and now his widow.

Mr. Jones was brought up among the Independents, the denomination of John Milton and Oliver Cromwell. When he came to London he joined the Church under the pastoral charge of the Rev. Robert Philip, the talented author of "Manly Piety," a "Life of the Rev. George Whitefield," and other works.

In the latter part of 1834 he left England for Australia, and after a short stay in Hobart Town came on to Sydney. Here he entered into partnership with Mr. Appleton, in Pitt street. After some years the partnership was dissolved, and Mr. Jones solely carried on the business, most successfully, for several years. A great panic then took place throughout the colony in 1842; and the failure of a large number of small traders seriously affected the great shop of Mr. David Jones. He sold his carriage, gave up his private house, and made other sacrifices, which enabled him to tide over the difficulties of the time. A few years after this depression, Mr. Jones took into partnership his son-in-law, Mr. Robert Ross, and subsequently Mr. Ford; and the business was carried on under the name of David Jones and Co. A large trade was done by this firm, and a few years afterwards the two junior partners went out, and Mr. Jones then disposed of his business to Messrs. Thompson and Simmonds. This firm only carried on the business for a short time, when they failed, and the estate was assigned to Mr. Clarke Irving and others. Some years before this Mr. Jones' eldest son, David, had entered into squatting pursuits in what is now Queensland, and had been eminently successful. At the crisis, he came forward and released the estate, and bought the stock-in-trade. The business was again resumed by Mr. David Jones (who had lost heavily by the failure of Messrs. Thompson and Simmonds) under the title of David Jones and Co. Public sympathy was very great for the persevering merchant, and on his re-entering business to retrieve his lost fortunes, he was accorded a large portion of public patronage; which enabled him to retire finally a few years ago, leaving the business to his son Edward and Mr. Woodward, who now carry it on. Such is Mr. Jones's merchant life.

When Mr. Jones came to Sydney, he found a small Independent (or Congregational) association, which had been formed by the efforts of the late Mr. Ambrose Poss, Mr. Bourne, and others. He gave them his zealous, constant, and liberal aid; and when the Rev. Dr. Ross, carrying forward the work begun by his predecessors, the Rev. Messrs. Price and Jarrett, formed a diaconate for the management of the affairs of the increasing congregation, the first deacons chosen were Messrs. David Jones, Ambrose Foss, Joseph Thompson, and John Fairfax. And during the successive pastorates of Dr. Ross, Mr. Cuthbertson, and Mr. Graham, Mr. Jones has been a pillar of the Pitt-street Congregational Church.

He did not take a prominent part in public affairs. But in consideration of the high esteem in which he was held, and his qualities as a man of thought and action, he was appointed by the Governor, Sir William Denison, on the advice of the Donaldson Ministry, a member of the first Legislative Council under the present Constitution Act. As a member of the Council he took part in debates; and though he was never a fluent speaker, his long experience, and sound judgment, gave weight to his opinions. He resigned his seat in the Council in April, 1860, after being nearly four years a member, on account of a change of the tide of prosperity in his business, which seemed to him to demand a more entire occupation of his time in his own affairs. And he was successful in accomplishing the object he had in view.

Mr. Jones was endowed with a memory of extraordinary clearness and tenacity. His literary taste led him to cultivate a very close acquaintance with the several quarterly reviews, and works of that class. In his social disposition he was hospitable, generous, and thoroughly Welsh. The Cymri in New South Wales always found in him a cordial friend. He presided over their national gatherings on St. David's Day, year after year. He welcomed every Welsh preacher with enthusiasm. He opened his purse to every Welsh brother in distress. And although the religious services he regularly attended during the greater part of his life were in English, he constantly read his Welsh hymn book in his private devotions on the Lord's day afternoon, and used to say that no language in the world was so expressive as the Welsh.

Of Mr. Jones's sons, the eldest, David, died about eight years ago; Mr. George Rees Jones is still engaged in squatting pursuits; Dr. Sydney Jones maintains a high position in the medical profession of Sydney; and the youngest, Mr. Edward Jones, has succeeded to his father's business in George-street. His daughters, Mrs. Weekes, Mrs. Boss, Mrs. Thompson, and Mrs. Ford, are all living.

Original publication

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Citation details

'Jones, David (1793–1873)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://oa.anu.edu.au/obituary/jones-david-2279/text35458, accessed 17 November 2018.

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