Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Dymond, Jonathan

DYMOND, JONATHAN (1796–1828), moralist, born 19 Dec. 1796, was the fourth of five sons of John and Olive Dymond of Exeter. His family belonged to the Society of Friends, some of them having been among its earliest members. Dymond was in business as a linendraper at Exeter. In 1823 he published anonymously ‘An Enquiry into the accordancy of War with the Principles of Christianity, and an Examination of the Philosophical Reasoning by which it is defended …’ It passed through four editions, and has been reprinted in America. He founded an auxiliary peace society at Exeter in 1825, and was for four years on the committee of the Peace Society. In 1825 he published ‘Observations on the Applicability of the Pacific Principles of the New Testament to the Conduct of States, and on the Limitations which those Principles impose on the Rights of Self-defence’ (the 7th tract of the Peace Society's series). In 1829 was published posthumously his chief book, ‘Essays on the Principles of Morality and on the Private and Political Rights and Obligations of Mankind.’ This was favourably reviewed by Southey in the ‘Quarterly Review’ for January 1831. It is an exposition of ethical theories in harmony with those generally held by the Friends, attacking Paley's utilitarianism and resolving moral obligation into the ‘immediate communication of the will of God.’ It is, however, more devoted to the application than to the ultimate theory of moral principles, and attacks duelling, war, and the lax morality of professions and trades. It has passed through five editions. In 1872 Joseph Pease of Darlington bore the expense of translating and circulating the book in Spain. Dymond died of consumption on 6 May 1828, aged 31. He married Anna Wilkey at Plymouth 3 July 1822, who survived till 1849, and had by her two children, Mary Anna, married to Henry Barrett, and Charles Jonathan, who died in infancy. In 1832 appeared ‘The Church and Clergy; showing that Religious Establishments derive no countenance from the nature of Christianity, and that they are not recommended by Public Utility … by the late Jonathan Dymond.’ Various extracts from his works have been separately reprinted.

[Smith's Cat. of Friends' Books; preface by George Bush to American edition of Principles of Morality, with communication from T. Hancock; Herald of Peace for June 1828, vol. vi. pt. i. p. 391.]

L. S.