William Jones (governor)

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William Jones
8th Governor of Rhode Island
In office
May 1, 1811 – May 7, 1817
Lieutenant Simeon Martin
Jeremiah Thurston
Preceded by James Fenner
Succeeded by Nehemiah R. Knight
Personal details
Born (1753-10-08)October 8, 1753
Newport, RI
Died April 9, 1822(1822-04-09) (aged 68)
Providence, RI
Resting place Swan Point Cemetery
Political party Federalist
Religion Congregationalist[1]

William Jones (October 8, 1753 – April 9, 1822) was the eighth Governor of Rhode Island from 1811 to 1817. He was a Federalist.

Early life

Jones was born in Newport, Rhode Island,[2] into a family of Welsh origin. His grandfather Thomas Jones (1691–1740) was born in Wales and settled in the Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations. His parents were William and Elizabeth (Pearce) Jones. William was the fourth of five children.[1]

Military service

In January 1776, at age 23, Jones was commissioned as Lieutenant in the Babcock/Lippitt regiment from Rhode Island. By September he became captain. He joined George Washington at Harlem Heights in October, just after the battle; then fought in the Battle of White Plains; the Battle of the Assunpink Creek and the Battle of Princeton. In February 1777 he returned to Rhode Island.[1]

In February 1778 Jones was commissioned as captain of Marines on board the Providence and served until the end of the war.

By right of his service in the Continental Army and Marine Corps, Jones became an original member of the Rhode Island Society of the Cincinnati.

After the war, he became a justice of the peace.[2]

Political career

Jones was elected to the Rhode Island General Assembly in 1807.[2] He was Speaker of the Rhode Island State House of Representatives two terms, in 1809-10 and 1810-11.[3] Jones was a Federalist and won the gubernatorial election against incumbent James Fenner in 1811 by just a few hundred votes. He was re-elected five times, but having been defeated when seeking a seventh term, he retired from the public life.[2] He was the only Federalist ever to serve as Governor of Rhode Island.

Personal life

On February 28, 1787, Jones was married to Anne Dunn, daughter of Samuel Dunn, of Providence. He had one child, Harriet, who went on to marry Thomas C. Hoppin.[1]

Jones nephew, William Henry Allen, was an American naval officer during the War of 1812.

Jones was a member of the Beneficent Congregational Church, a fellow of Brown University, president of the Peace Society, and the member of the Rhode Island Bible Society.[1] He was also elected a member of the American Antiquarian Society in 1813.[4]


Some records report incorrectly that he died April 22, 1822. Some of his death notices include:

Connecticut Courant, April 16, 1822, p. 3 and Boston Semi-Weekly Advertiser (MA), April 17, 1822: In Providence, Hon. William Jones, aged 67, who was Governor of the State from 1811 to 1817.

Weekly Messenger (MA), April 18, 1822, p. 3: DIED, In Providence, on Tuesday, the 9th inst. the Hon. William Jones, aged 67. The deceased was a patriot of the Revolution, and for six years Governor of the State.

Jones's grave in Providence also clearly states that he died in "this town"[Providence] on the April 9, 1822[5]

He was buried at Swan Point Cemetery, Providence, Rhode Island.[6]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 The Biographical Cyclopedia of Representative Men of Rhode Island. Providence: National Biographical Publishing Co. 1881. pp. 155–156. |access-date= requires |url= (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 National Governors Association, Rhode Island Governor William Jones.
  3. The Political Graveyard, Index to Politicians: Jones, U to Z.
  4. American Antiquarian Society Members Directory
  5. http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=pv&GRid=3268&PIpi=8112199
  6. The Political Graveyard, as above.

External links

Political offices
Preceded by
James Fenner
Governor of Rhode Island
Succeeded by
Nehemiah R. Knight