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George Jones Edit Profile

Minister , schoolmaster

The Reverend Prof. George Jones was a minister of the Episcopal Church, United States Navy Chaplain, academic and writer.


Jones, George was born on July 30, 1800 in York, Pennsylvania, United States. Son of Robert and Elizabeth (Dunnman) Jones.


Educated at Yale University where he graduated as the 1823 class valedictorian.


Remembered as the first Chaplain and Head of English studies at the United States Naval Academy and for his participation in the landmark 1852-1854 expedition to Japan under the command of Commodore Perry. After two years teaching in Washington DC, he served as schoolmaster on board the US Navy frigates USS Brandywine and USS Constitution and as secretary to Commodore Charles Morris. Jones rejoined the US Navy in 1832, first as an acting chaplain aboard the flagship of the Mediterranean fleet USS United States, receiving his commission as a Chaplain in the US Navy on 20 April 1833.

In common with other ship board chaplains of the era, Jones was responsible for the academic training of midshipmen in his charge. With a lifelong involvement in naval education, Jones made written representations to the Secretary of the Navy in 1839 to establish a more formalized officer training program. His appointment as the first Head of English and Chaplain of the newly opened Naval Academy at Annapolis in 1845 and 1851 respectively, was a recognition of his public advocacy on this topic.

Jones was chosen by Commodore Perry to join as Chaplain on his expedition to Japan, serving not only in a ministerial capacity but also as a chronicler of the expedition, amateur naturalist and astronomer. Departing Annapolis on the flagship USS Mississippi on the 18 November 1852, Jones journeyed with the squadron for over two years. The squadron cleared Hampton Roads on 24 November, heading first for Madeira, rounded the Cape of Good Hope and continued to Hong Kong, Shanghai and the Ryukyu Islands before entering Tokyo Bay on the 8 July 1853.

Jones as Chaplain kept the navy custom of holding divine service each Sunday while on board ship. After many centuries of enforced isolation, this Christian ceremony was a significant event in terms of freedom of religious expression in Japan. In all Jones was to conduct four more Christian burials during the fleet's stay in Japanese waters, one such funeral at Shimoda captured in sketch by the official expedition artist Wilhelm Heine.

Jones contributed extensively on astronomical observations of Zodiacal light to the third volume of Perry's published account of the expedition, Narrative of the Expedition of an American Squadron to the China Seas and Japan. Jones rejoined the teaching and chaplaincy staff of the Naval Academy on his return to the United States. He was stationed at the Philadelphia Naval Asylum at the time of his death 22 January 1870.

Married Mary Amelia Silliman of Brooklyn, New York in 1837. She died in Washington DC in 1865. The Fellowship Hall at the Hope Chapel, United States Fleet Activities Yokosuka, Japan is dedicated in honor of Chaplain George Jones.


  • Other Work

    • Author: Narrative of an American Squadron to the China Seas and Japan, 1856. Life Scenes from the Old Testament, 1868.


Married Mary Silliman, 1837.

Robert Jones

Elizabeth (Dunnman) Jones

Mary Silliman