Regency Personalities Series
In my attempts to provide us with the details of the Regency (I include those who were born before 1811 and who died after 1795), today I continue with one of the many period notables.
William Jones of Nayland
30 July 1726 – 6 January 1800
William Jones of Nayland was born at Lowick, Northamptonshire, but was descended from an old Welsh family. One of his ancestors was Colonel John Jones, brother-in-law of Oliver Cromwell. He was educated at Charterhouse School and University College, Oxford. There a taste for music, as well as a similarity of character, led to his close intimacy with George Horne, later bishop of Norwich, whom he induced to study Hutchinsonian doctrines.
After obtaining his bachelor’s degree at University College, Oxford in 1749, Jones held various preferments (Vicar of Bethersden, Kent (1764); Rector of Pluckley, Kent (1765)) . In 1777 he obtained the perpetual curacy of Nayland, Suffolk, and on Horne’s appointment to Norwich became his chaplain, afterwards writing his life. His vicarage became the centre of a High Church coterie, and Jones himself was a link between the non-jurors and the Oxford Movement. He could write intelligibly on abstruse topics.
In 1756 Jones published his tract The Catholic Doctrine of a Trinity, a statement of the doctrine from the Hutchinsonian point of view, with a summary of biblical proofs. This was followed in 1762 by an Essay on the First Principles of Natural Philosophy, in which he maintained the theories of Hutchinson in opposition to those of Isaac Newton, and in 1781 he dealt with the same subject in Physiological Disquisitions. Jones was also the originator of the British Critic (May 1793). Eighteenth century high churchmen were more concerned with ecclesiology than with the sacraments. The status of Anglican ministry was crucial to high church ecclesiology.
The ground of the Anglican ministry was trinitarian orthodoxy and this doctrine was reasserted by high churchmen against Arians, Deists and Socinians. JCD Clark, “English Society 1660-1832” rev. edn., Cambridge, 2000.
Jones’s “A Full Answer to the Essay on Spirit” (London 1753), co-authored with George Horne, responded to Robert Clayton’s Arian work of three years earlier and sharpened the trinitarian controversy according to Jones himself. William Jones (ed.), “The Works of the Right Reverend George Horne, D.D.” (2nd edn., 4 vols, London, 1818, I pp. 59–60).
His collected works, with a life by William Stevens, appeared in 1801, in 12 vols., and were condensed into 6 vols in 1810. A life of Jones, forming pt. 5 of the Biography of English Divines, was published in 1849.