Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Jones, Richard (1790-1855)

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1400747Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 30 — Jones, Richard (1790-1855)1892Edward Carter Kersey Gonner

JONES, RICHARD (1790–1855), political economist, born in 1790 at Tunbridge Wells, where his father was a solicitor, was intended for the legal profession, but owing to weak health he was sent to Cambridge to prepare for the church. He entered Caius College in 1812, and graduated B.A. in 1816 and M.A. 1819. He was at first appointed to a curacy in Sussex. In 1822 he became curate of Brasted, Kent, and the next year (1823) married Charlotte Altree of Brighton. In 1833 he was appointed professor of political economy at King's College, London, a post which he resigned in 1835 on succeeding Malthus in the chair of political economy and history at the East India College at Haileybury. He was associated with the passage of the Tithe Commutation Act in 1836, and was nominated commissioner under its provisions by the Archbishop of Canterbury. This office he held till the commission was remodelled in 1851. He afterwards became secretary to the capitular commission, and one of the charity commissioners. He resigned his professorship shortly before his death at Haileybury on 26 Jan. 1855.

As an economist Jones was strongly opposed to the deductive method of Ricardo and others. In his chief work, ‘An Essay on the Distribution of Wealth and on the Sources of Taxation, Part I., Rent,’ London, 1831, 8vo, he devotes himself to a hostile criticism of their method and an attempt to supersede their investigations by one more thoroughly inductive. His work is valuable in itself, but condemnation of Ricardo is often based on misinterpretation, while proofs advanced by Jones to show that Ricardo's principles solely apply to England, and do not hold good in other countries, fail to seriously impair the utility of Ricardo's treatise. Jones stands midway between Adam Smith and the modern school of historical economists. He is more historical than the former, less historical than the latter. He did not resort to original authorities. It cannot be said that his works established any new principle; they introduced modifications into others previously formulated. But his greatest claim to economic fame rests on his recognition of the necessity of the inductive method. His other works are:

  1. ‘A few Remarks on the Proposed Commutation of Tithes,’ London, 1833, 8vo.
  2. ‘An Introductory Lecture on Political Economy, delivered at King's College, with a Syllabus of a Course of Lectures on the Wages of Labour,’ London, 1833, 8vo.
  3. ‘Remarks on the Government Bill for the Commutation of Tithes,’ London, 1836, 8vo.
  4. ‘Remarks on the manner in which the Tithe should be Assessed to the Poor's Rate,’ &c., London, 1838, 8vo.
  5. ‘A Letter to Sir R. Peel … to exempt all Persons from being Assessed as Inhabitants to the Parochial Rates,’ London, 1840.
  6. ‘Text Book of Lectures on the Political Economy of Nations,’ Hertford, 1852, 8vo.

A collected edition of Jones's works, with preface by Whewell, appeared at Cambridge in 1850.

[Preface to collected works by W. Whewell; Ann. Reg. 1855; Gent. Mag. 1855; works as in text.]

E. C. K. G.