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JONES, JOHN, LL.D. (1766?–1827), unitarian critic, was born about 1766 near Llandovery, in the parish of Llandingat, Carmarthenshire. His father was a farmer. In 1780, being ‘about the age of fourteen or fifteen,’ he was placed at the ‘college of the church of Christ,’ Brecon, under William Griffiths, and remained there till 1783, when his father's death called him home. Soon after the establishment in 1786 of the ‘new college’ at Hackney, London, he was admitted as a divinity student on the recommendation of his relative, David Jones (1765–1816) [q. v.], who was already a student there. He was a favourite pupil of Gilbert Wakefield [q. v.] during the latter's brief connection (1790–1) with the college as classical tutor; his scholarship always retained the impress of Wakefield's overstrained ingenuity.

In 1792 he succeeded David Peter as assistant-tutor in the Welsh presbyterian college, then conducted at Swansea, Glamorganshire. With William Howell, the principal tutor, an old-fashioned Arian, Jones, who was of the Priestley school, and not conciliatory in disposition, had serious differences. In 1795 the presbyterian board removed both tutors, and transferred the college to Carmarthen. Jones in 1795 succeeded John Kentish [q. v.] as minister of the presbyterian congregation at Plymouth, Devonshire, where he remained till 1798. He then established a school at Halifax, Yorkshire. From 29 March 1802 to 1804 he was minister of Northgate End Chapel, Halifax, carrying on his school at the same time.

In 1804 he settled in London as a tutor in classics, and his pupils included the sons of Sir Samuel Romilly. He still occasionally preached, but after a time abandoned preaching altogether. He was a member (before 1814) of the Philological Society of Manchester; received (1818) the degree of LL.D. from Aberdeen; was elected (1821) a trustee of Dr. Daniel Williams's foundations, and (about 1825) a member of the Royal Society of Literature. There are many stories of his kindness to struggling scholars. As a Greek-English lexicographer Jones did useful work, which earned the commendation of Dr. Parr. He discarded accents. Instances of theological bias in his interpretations were sharply commented on in the second number of the ‘Westminster Review’ (April 1824) by John Walker [q. v.], the separatist, who was himself an excellent scholar. Jones fiercely defended himself. His critical labours show considerable sagacity, but he maintained many paradoxes. He defended the integrity of the passages in Josephus referring to our Lord, and maintained that both Josephus and Philo were Christians. The initial chapters of St. Matthew and St. Luke he rejected as interpolations, but held 1 Jo. v. 7 to be authentic, and to have been excised at an early date because it taught unitarian doctrine. His best work is to be found in his ‘Illustrations’ of the gospels.

He died at Great Coram Street on 10 Jan. 1827, and was interred in the burying-ground of St. George's, Bloomsbury, where his gravestone bears a Latin inscription. He married first, soon after 1804, the only daughter of Abraham Rees, D.D. [q. v.], the cyclopædist, who had been his tutor at Hackney. His first wife died without issue in 1815, and Jones married secondly, in 1817, Anna, only daughter of George Dyer of Sawbridgeworth, Hertfordshire, who, with two children, survived him. His literary executor was his nephew, James Chervet of Croydon.

He published: 1. ‘A Developement of … Events, calculated to restore the Christian Religion to its … Purity,’ &c., Leeds, 1800, 8vo, 2 vols. 2. ‘The Epistle … to the Romans analysed,’ &c., Halifax, 1801, 8vo. 3. ‘Illustrations of the Four Gospels,’ &c., 1808, 8vo. 4. ‘A Grammar of the Greek Tongue,’ &c., 1808, 8vo; 4th edit., with title, ‘Etymologia Græca,’ 1826, 12mo. 5. ‘A Grammar of the Latin Tongue,’ &c., 1810, 8vo; reprinted 1813, 1816. 6. ‘A Latin and English Vocabulary,’ 1812, 8vo; enlarged, with title, ‘Analogiæ Latinæ,’ 1825. 7. ‘Ecclesiastical Researches, or Philo and Josephus proved to be … Apologists of Christ,’ &c., 1812, 8vo. 8. ‘Sequel’ to No. 6, 1813, 8vo. 9. ‘A New Version of the first three Chapters of Genesis,’ &c., 1819, 8vo (under the pseudonym of Essenus). 10. ‘A Series of … Facts, demonstrating the Truth of the Christian Religion,’ &c., 1820, 8vo. 11. ‘A Greek and English Lexicon,’ &c., 1823, 8vo. 12. ‘A Reply to … “A New Trial of the Witnesses,” &c., and … “Not Paul but Jesus,”’ &c., 1824, 8vo (under the pseudonym of Ben David). 13. ‘An Answer to a Pseudocriticism’ of No. 10, 1824, 8vo. 14. ‘The Principles of Lexicography,’ &c., 1824, 8vo. 15. ‘Three Letters, in which is demonstrated the Genuineness of … 1 John v. 7,’ &c., 1825, 8vo (under the pseudonym of Ben David). 16. ‘The Tyro's Greek and English Lexicon,’ &c.; 2nd edit. 1825, 8vo. 17. ‘An Exposure of the Hamiltonian System of Teaching,’ &c., 1826, 8vo. 18. ‘An Explanation of the Greek Article,’ &c., 1827, 12mo (against Middleton). Posthumous was: 19. ‘The Book of the Prophet Isaiah translated,’ &c., 1830, 12mo. He edited an edition of Entick's Latin Dictionary, 1824, 16mo, and contributed largely to periodicals, especially the ‘Monthly Repository.’ If Thomas Rees is right in saying that No. 1 above was his first publication, ‘The Reason of Man,’ &c., Canterbury, 1793, 8vo, 2 parts (against Paine), is by another John Jones.

[Biog. Dict. of Living Authors, 1816, p. 182; Monthly Repository, 1827, pp. 293 sq. (notice by T. R., i.e. Thomas Rees); Murch's Hist. Presb. and Gen. Bapt. Churches in West of England, 1835, p. 505; John Walker's Essays and Correspondence, 1846, ii. 596 sq.; Miall's Congregationalism in Yorkshire, 1868, p. 266; Rees's Hist. Prot. Nonconf. in Wales, 1883, p. 496; Jeremy's Presbyterian Fund, 1885, pp. 71, 194 sq.; Northgate End Chapel Magazine, March 1886, p. 47; information from the Rev. F. E. Millson, Halifax.]

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