David Jones (1793 – 1873) general merchant, councillor, politician
David Jones is not only Australia’s oldest department store, but the oldest department store in the world still trading under its original name. David Jones was a deacon of the Congregational Church in Sydney for some thirty-five years, one of the founders and first council members of Camden College and a committee member of the local auxiliaries of the Bible and Religious Tract Societies. He was a generous benefactor to his own and other churches.
Just 50 years after the founding of the colony, Mr David Jones, a Welsh-born immigrant, opened “large and commodious premises” on the corner of George and Barrack Streets on 24 May 1838.
His mission was to sell “the best and most exclusive goods” and to carry “a stock that embraces the everyday wants of mankind at large.”
The small store prospered. Its location on the main artery of the new town, opposite the General Post Office, was a brilliant choice. David Jones and Co. received patronage from not only the Sydney gentry, but also the country settlers. They flocked to the store to buy buckskins, ginghams, waistcoat fabrics, silks, cotton tick.
David Jones had a noble and prepossessing presence and a kind and engaging personality; according to his friend Rev. W. Slatyer, ‘he suffered from an unsuspicious and charitable judgment in giving others with whom he dealt credit for the integrity with which he himself was activated’. Apart from his family his main interests were business, religion and civic affairs. He had many investments in banks, steamship, insurance, building and other companies; he was a director of the Mutual Fire Insurance Co. formed in 1840, a foundation director of the Australian Mutual Provident Society in 1848, and a trustee and chairman of the Metropolitan and Counties Permanent Investment and Building Society in 1851.
He was a deacon of the Congregational Church in Sydney for some thirty-five years, one of the founders and first council members of Camden College and a committee member of the local auxiliaries of the Bible and Religious Tract Societies. He was a generous benefactor to his own and other churches and was one of the Sydney merchants who each gave 1000 guineas to the Crimean war victims’ fund. He was a member of the first Sydney City Council in 1842 and of the New South Wales Legislative Council in 1856-60.
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