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JONES, DAVID THOMAS, Church of England missionary, politician, and teacher; b. c. 1796, probably in Wales; m. May 1829 Mary Lloyd, and they had six children; d. 26 Oct. 1844 in Llangoedmor, Wales.

David Thomas Jones “was brought up to farming” but in 1820, after two years of study at Lampeter seminary in Wales, he was accepted by the Church Missionary Society as a missionary candidate. He was ordained deacon in December 1822 and was priested in April 1823. That summer he sailed on the Hudson’s Bay Company’s ship Prince of Wales to relieve for a year John West, the Anglican missionary and HBC chaplain at the Red River settlement (Man.).

West’s schemes of “establishing schools and missionaries all over the country” were considered by George Simpson*, governor of the HBCs Northern Department, to be unacceptable to the company and of no benefit to the Indian or the mixed-blood. In 1823 Simpson wrote to company director Andrew Colvile in London opposing West’s return, but he praised Jones, “who will be a great acquisition to us.” Jones subsequently succeeded West in the charge of the first Protestant mission in the northwest and in the chaplaincy. During the summer of 1824 he built a second church, Middle Church (St Paul’s), a few miles downstream from the original mission at Upper Church (St John’s), and started a day-school at Middle Church.

Jones and his co-worker, the Reverend William Cockran*, who joined him in 1825, were both low church and eventually modified their liturgy to attract Red River’s Presbyterian, Gaelic-speaking settlers. One of them, Alexander Ross*, later described Jones as a “fine and eloquent preacher; tender-hearted, kind, and liberal to a fault. . . . he was all but idolized.” Cockran, however, became critical of Jones’s social prestige and regarded him as lacking interest in the Indians. They agreed nevertheless in being unsympathetic to many local customs; in July 1824 Jones had deplored as sacrilege West’s practice of baptizing, without religious preparation, the Indian or mixed-blood wives of traders before their marriages.

In 1828 Jones took a leave of absence from Red River. While in England he informed the Church Missionary Society’s committee in February 1829, “It is generally considered that the sphere of our influence is not to extend beyond the boundaries of the Colony.” He returned in the fall with his bride to resume his clerical and teaching duties. Mary Jones soon established a close relationship with Simpson’s wife, Frances Ramsay Simpson*. In 1832, encouraged by George Simpson, Jones proposed a boarding-school or seminary at Upper Church “for the moral improvement, religious instruction, and general education of Boys; the sons of Gentlemen belonging to the Fur Trade.” This establishment, which became known as the Red River Academy, the first English-speaking high school in the northwest, was privately financed by Jones but was dependent on Simpson and the HBC’s Northern Council for students and patronage. Construction of the academy’s buildings, begun in October 1832, was completed the following summer. As well, a female seminary was set up within the academy. In August 1832 Jones had asked the Church Missionary Society to find a “Governess . . . of matured Christian experience” and a “Tutor . . . practically acquainted with Land Surveying.” Mrs Mary Lowman and John Macallum arrived in the fall of 1833 to fill these positions.

At the same time that the academy was founded, Jones replaced West’s log mission-house at Upper Church by a stone church, which became part of Bishop David Anderson*’s cathedral in 1861. Joined to this stone church were a day-school and a Sunday school, both conducted by Peter Garrioch. The Indian school founded by West and continued by Jones was moved to Lower Church (St Andrew’s) at Grand Rapids and placed under Cockran’s guidance.

Despite a deepening rift between Cockran and Jones, the academy, which Simpson described as “an honour & credit to the country,” flourished, having 14 pupils in 1833, 40 a year later, and 23 boys and 24 girls in 1835. Nearly all the students, many of mixed blood, were the children of HBC officers, includiing James Bird*, George Simpson, and the father of Alexander Kennedy Isbister*. By February 1835 Jones had been appointed to the Council of Assiniboia. When his wife died on 14 Oct. 1836, after childbirth, he was shattered: “The Superintendence of the Seminaries I am rendered totally unfit for.” In August 1838 he left for England, with his family. He served at Lampeter as curate and as professor of Welsh at St David’s College and, from March 1843 until his death in 1844, as rector at Llangoedmor. The HBC had purchased the Red River Academy from him and later sold the buildings to his successor, John Macallum.

S. M. Johnson and T. F. Bredin

National Library of Wales (Aberystwyth), Llangoedmor parish, reg. of burials, 30 Oct. 1844. PAC, MG 19, E1, ser.l: 7825, 8011 (mfm. at PAM). Univ. of Birmingham Library, Special Coll. (Birmingham, Eng.), Church Missionary Soc. Arch., C, C.1/O, journal of D. T. Jones (mfm. at PAM). Haul (Llandovery, Wales), 9 (1844): 398. Alexander Ross, The Red River settlement: its rise, progress and present state; with some account of the native races and its general history, to the present day (London, 1856; repr. Edmonton, 1972). Boon, Anglican Church. D. T. W. Price, A history of Saint David’s University College, Lampeter (1v. to date, Cardiff, 1977–  ). Van Kirk, “Many tender ties”. J. H. Archer, “The Anglican Church and the Indian in the northwest,” Canadian Church Hist. Soc., Journal (Toronto), 28 (1986): 19–30. J. E. Foster, “Program for the Red River Mission: the Anglican clergy, 1820–1826,” Social Hist. (Ottawa), no.4 (November 1969): 49–75. A. N. Thompson, “The wife of the missionary,” Canadian Church Hist. Soc., Journal, 15 (1973): 35–44.

General Bibliography

Cite This Article

S. M. Johnson and T. F. Bredin, “JONES, DAVID THOMAS,” in Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 7, University of Toronto/Université Laval, 2003–, accessed November 1, 2014, http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/jones_david_thomas_7E.html.

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Permalink: http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/jones_david_thomas_7E.html
Author of Article: S. M. Johnson and T. F. Bredin
Title of Article: JONES, DAVID THOMAS
Publication Name: Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 7
Publisher: University of Toronto/Université Laval
Year of publication: 1988
Year of revision: 1988
Access Date: November 1, 2014