Jones, Edward (B)
Edward Jones was an Afro-American missionary to Sierra Leone. Born in Charleston, South Carolina, he became the first black American to graduate from Amherst (Massachusetts) College. Ordained by the Episcopal Church in 1830, he arrived in the Sierra Leone colony the following year and joined the Church Missionary Society (CMS) there in 1840. He became the first black principal of Fourah Bay College (1841-1859) and also served as secretary of the Sierra Leone Mission (1855-1858 and 1861-1864). He was an outstanding scholar, and Henry Venn attested that his “powers and knowledge of Africa” were “superior to all his brethren.” As principal, Jones was singularly committed to the educational development of the native African; he had a major influence on the men who later became the first pastors of the Sierra Leone Native Pastorate. Inexorably propelled into the vanguard of the perennial racial tension in the mission, he became an intrepid champion of native advancement and frequently challenged European missionary prejudice. He was the mainstay of the mission during the notoriously unsettled period between 1850 and 1862, when three bishops died in quick succession. Although his last few years in the colony were clouded by failing health and beleaguered relations with the CMS, to the native clergy and congregations he remained an immensely popular missionary and a highly esteemed role model. He died in England.
Jehu J. Hanciles
Michael Crowther, “From Amherst to Fourah Bay: Principal Edward Jones” (paper presented at the Bicentenary of Sierra Leone Symposium, Fourah Bay College, Univ. of Sierra Leone, May 1987) includes a comprehensive bibliography on Jones. Christopher Fyfe, A History of Sierra Leone (1962). Reference materials in the CMS archives are numerous, but see especially C A1/0 129 (Jones’s personal correspondence and reports), C A1/0 3 (official correspondence as mission secretary), and C A1/L4-L7 (letters from CMS secretaries to, and about, Jones).
This article is reproduced, with permission, from Biographical Dictionary of Christian Missions, copyright © 1998, by Gerald H. Anderson, W. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, Michigan. All rights reserved.