Born in 1857 at Ceint Bach near Llangefni, to Richard and Alice Jones. He became pupil, and afterwards pupil-teacher, at the British school there; for two years (1873-5) at the Bangor Normal College. For a short period he was head master of the Goginan school in north Cardigan, before migrating to London to become assistant at Wallington Road in north London (1879-88). He was a member of the Welsh Calvinistic Methodist church at Holloway, but was excommunicated in 1887 for (presumably) advocating too advanced opinions as Sunday school teacher. From 1888 to 1894 Oxford was his home; there he acted (it is thought) as a private tutor, and began a life-long friendship with Sir John Rhys. During his stay in London he became greatly interested in politics, as a Liberal, and developed into one of the most eloquent speakers, in Welsh and English, in the whole country. He was not chosen as Liberal candidate for Anglesey, though he had numerous and fervid supporters; but in 1894 he easily secured the Liberal candidature for Arvon, and in 1895 became its M.P. with a substantial majority; he retained the seat till 1915. Very soon he became one of the most ready and effective speakers in the Commons, delivering powerful speeches on the painful controversy at Bethesda (1900-3) and on the question of disestablishment (especially in the debates of 1912 and 1914). He made his greatest mark in the country by the part he took in the two general elections of 1910. Next year he became one of the Junior Lords of the Treasury, as a ' Whip ' to look after the interests of Wales and the attendance of the Liberal Welsh members. Twenty-one volumes of his private papers are lodged in the library of the U.C.N.W. - by reading them one can see how wide was his range of friends, how high his ideals were, and how valiant his efforts to make those ideals workable in the lives of ordinary men. William Jones was a lovable personality, full of human kindness and given to good works, and as a politician one of the most honest and sincere in his generation. He died at Pendyffryn, Bangor, on 9 May 1915.
Published date: 1959
Article Copyright: http://rightsstatements.org/page/InC/1.0/
The Dictionary of Welsh Biography is provided by The National Library of Wales and the University of Wales Centre for Advanced Welsh and Celtic Studies. It is free to use and does not receive grant support. A donation would help us maintain and improve the site so that we can continue to acknowledge Welsh men and women who have made notable contributions to life in Wales and beyond.
Find out more on our sponsorship page.