David Jones (missionary)

David Jones (July 1796 – 1 May 1841) was a pioneering Welsh Christian missionary to Madagascar.[1] A gifted linguist, he was noted for establishing the orthography of the Malagasy language and for his translation of the Bible into Malagasy, a work that he undertook with fellow missionary David Griffiths.[2][3]

Portrait of David Jones in 1833

Life and workEdit

David Jones was born in Penrhiw, near Neuaddlwyd, Cardiganshire. He studied under Thomas Phillips at the Neuaddlwyd Academy and later at Llanfyllin.

At 16, he offered himself for service with the London Missionary Society (LMS) and was sent to Gosport for training, with his friend Thomas Bevan. He was ordained at Neuaddlwyd on 20 and 21 August 1817. He married Louisa Darby of Gosport.

Directed by the LMS to serve in Madagascar, Jones and Bevan with their families landed at Tamatave from Mauritius in September 1818. There, he was laid low with malaria, from which his wife and child died. Bevan, his wife and child also died.

He gave himself to educational and religious work among the Malagasy population, opening a number of schools. He settled at Antananarivo in 1820. By 1828, there were 37 schools, 44 teachers, and 2,309 students. A "Malagasy Schooling Society" was established and King Radama 1 took great personal interest in it. In consultation with the king, Jones devised an orthographic system for the Malagasy language.

In conjunction with David Griffiths, Jones translated the Bible into Malagasy. With the help of David Johns, he also published a spelling book, a catechism and a hymnary.

Following the king’s death, Christianity in Madagascar was banned in 1835, with some Christians being martyred. Jones returned to Mauritius, which he used as a base for evangelisation. Suffering from malaria, he died there in 1841.


  1. ^ Welsh Biography Online: David Jones
  2. ^ Dictionary of African Christian Biography: David Jones
  3. ^ Gerald H. Anderson, Biographical Dictionary of Christian Missions, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 1999. p.336 ISBN 0-8028-4680-7, ISBN 978-0-8028-4680-8

Works by David JonesEdit

  • Abstract of a Journey of Mr. David Jones, Missionary at Madagascar, Containing a Brief Account of his Journey to the Capital of Radama, &c. Transactions of the London Missionary Society, October 1821.


  • William Edward Cousins, David Jones: The Pioneer of Protestant Missions in Madagascar. London: London Missionary Society, c.1908.
  • Ernest Henry Hayes, David Jones: Founder of the Church in Madagascar. London: Capsey, 1933.
  • Joyce Reason, Storm over Madagascar: David Jones. London: Carrgate Press, 1937.

External linksEdit