JONES, Sir Henry (1862-1926)


JONES, Sir Henry (1862-1926)
man of business
son of John Jones, was born at Hobart on 19 July 1862. Educated at a state school, he went to work in a jam factory when he was 12 years old, and began with sticking labels on tins. He was always willing to work overtime, and saved the money he earned in this way. He presently became a foreman, and by 1891, when G. Peacock retired from the business, he was able to buy a controlling interest in it, and reconstruct it under the name of H. Jones and Company. The business grew and in 1898 the works were almost entirely refitted with new machinery. He began to extend his interest to the timber trade and hop industry, and the export of Tasmanian fruit in addition to his own preserves. In 1903 he took a leading part in the formation of the Tongkah Harbour Tin Dredging Company, which became very successful, and in 1909-10 a number of the mainland factories were amalgamated with his own into the H. Jones Co-operative Company. Branches of his own factory had been formed at Keswick, South Australia and Sydney. In 1911 he visited England with his family, and in 1914 went to America. Some five years later he established a factory at Oakland, near San Francisco, but this was afterwards sold. He succeeded in securing steamers to carry Tasmanian fruit to the English market, and though he made occasional losses he never ceased his efforts to increase the trade of his state. He was interested in early attempts to form a wood pulp industry, and was largely responsible for the erecting of woollen mills in Launceston by Kelsall and Kemp of Rochdale, England. Other interests included an orchard on the east coast of Tasmania worked largely on a co-operative system. He had become the leading business man of Tasmania, and continuing to work very hard his health became affected in the last two years of his life. He died suddenly at Melbourne on 29 October 1926. He was knighted in January 1919. He married in 1883 Alice Glover who survived him with three sons and nine daughters.
Jones was a keen business man who had made his own way, and had no faith in government interference with business. He was, however, a good employer, and it was said of him that "he talked to his employees with the same casual cheerfulness as he would with a cabinet minister". He on occasions shared his profits with employees, and his private benefactions were numerous. He declined to enter politics saying that his influence could be just as useful outside them. He had a quick brain and a great grasp of essentials, and no other man of his period did so much for the trade of Tasmania.
The Mercury, Hobart, 30 October 1926; The Examiner, Launceston, 30 October 1926; The Huon and Derwent Times, 17 December 1936; Debrett's Peerage, etc., 1926.

Dictionary of Australian Biography by PERCIVAL SERLE. . 1949.

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