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The Cyclopedia of New Zealand [Otago & Southland Provincial Districts]

The Hon. George Jones

The Hon. George Jones , Member of the Legislative Council, who was called to the Council on the 13th of December, 1895, and rcappointed in December, 1902, was born in 1844 in the Hutt Valley. He was educated at Geelong, Victoria, and since the age of fourteen has been connected with the printing business, to which he served a portion of his apprenticeship in Geelong. After a time he was employed in the Government printing office, Brisbane, and subsequently on the “Bulletin,” Rockhampton, where he was admitted as a journeyman at the age of seventeen years. He arrived in Christchurch in 1863, and was successively employed on the “Standard,” “Lyttelton Times,” and “Press” newspapers; and in 1866 he entered into business with a partner under the style of Jones and Bent general printers, Cathedral Square. Mr. Bent retired shortly afterwards, and Mr. Tombs, afterwards of Whitcombe and Tombs, took his place, and the business was conducted for several years as that of Jones and Tombs. After a visit to England in connection with his eyesight, Mr. Jones opened a business in Wellesley Street, Auckland, where for two or three years he held the printing contract under the Provincial Government. In 1870 he founded the “Waikato Times” newspaper, and two years later the “Echo,” in Auckland, in opposition to the “Evening Star.” After a valiant fight extending over twelve months, he removed his plant to Dunedin and founded the “Evening News,” which was conducted for six months, in conjunction with Messrs Reed and Brett, in the interest of provincial institutions. This paper died prematurely, however. After twelve months' employment on the “Guardian,” a paper which was conducted by Messrs G. M. Reed and George Fenwick, Mr. Jones settled in Oamaru in 1877, and purchased the “Evening Mail,” which was re-named by him the “Oamaru Mail,” and is further referred to in another article under Oamaru. Mr. Jones first came into political prominence in 1877, when he wrote an article charging the Attorney General, the late Sir Frederick Whitaker, with bringing in and promoting a Native Land Bill, to afford facilities for the acquisition of land for himself and his friends. The article in question was demed to be a breach of privilege, and Mr. Jones was summoned to appear at the Bar of the House. On his appearance he declined to withdraw what he had written, and reiterated his statements. While Parliament was engaged in debating what penalty should be meted out to him, Mr. Jones himself was dispensing and attracting social gaiety, in the room of the Sergeant at Arms, Major Paul, who was showing him every consideration and kindness. During his walks about Wellington, while he was the “guest” of the House, Mr. Jones was accompanied by a stalwart member of the armed constabulary, who proved to be an old Waikato friend. The result of the deliberations in Parliament was a prosecution in the Law Courts, as it was found that the offender could be imprisoned within the precincts of the House during the sessional term only, and that was not considered sufficient punishment. After appearing before a Resident Magistrate at Wellington, Mr. Jones was committed for trial at the Supreme Court, Dunedin, where he was finally acquitted. To the Colony the result was a bill for legal expenses amounting to £2300; and to Mr. Jones the doubling of the circulation of his paper. Almost immediately afterwards he was returned to the House, as representative for Oamaru; but owing to ill-health, he had to resign in 1881, and was replaced by Mr. Thomas Young Duncan, who, after the death of Sir John McKenzie, became Minister of Lands and Agriculture in the Seddon Government. Mr. Jones is well-known as a musician of considerable ability, his instrument being the violin. At the age of twelve he made his debut as a violin soloist in the Geelong Town Hall, at a concert given for the benefit of the Ladies' Benevolent Society. In Brisbane he played first violin in connection with the local Musical Society. During his residence in Christchurch, he was a member of the original Christchurch Musical Society, of which Mr. Charles Bonnington was leader, and in Auckland he played first violin and viola in the Choral Society, in which Judge Fenton took a leading part. Mr. Jones was also leader of the Ponsonby Society, Auckland, of which the late Mr. John Mitchell was conductor. In Dunedin he took a leading part in the Choral Society, and was leading violinist of the Orchestral Society; and in Oamaru he was connected with the Oamaru Garrison Band for about fifteen years, during which it was successful in several competitions. Owing to ill-health Mr. Jones retired from the band in 1892, when he paid a visit to England. He was married in 1865 to Dorothy Tweedy, a daughter of the late Mr. Tweedy, of Sunderland, and has five sons and four daughters. Mr. Jones is one of the few newspaper men in New Zealand who are staunch prohibitionists.

Mahan, photo. Hon. G. Jones.

Mahan, photo.
Hon. G. Jones.