(December 16, 1784 � December 29, 1864) was a Welsh Protestant Christian girl who, at age fifteen, inspired the founding of the British and Foreign Bible Society by walking twenty-five miles across the countryside to buy a copy of the Welsh Bible because she did not have one.
Mary Jones was from a poor family, the daughter of a weaver, who lived at the foot of Cader Idris, Llanfihangel-y-Pennant, Merioneth (now part of Gwynedd), near Dolgellau. She was born in December 1784. Her parents were devout Calvinistic Methodists, and she herself professed the Christian faith at eight years of age. Having learned to read in the circulating schools organised by Thomas Charles, it became her burning desire to possess a Bible of her own. The nearest copy was at a farm two miles distant from her little cottage, and there was no copy on sale nearer than Bala � 25 miles away; and it was not certain that a copy could be obtained there. Welsh Bibles were scarce in those days. Having saved for some years until she had enough money to pay for a copy, she started one morning in 1800 for Bala, and walked the 25 miles, barefoot as usual, to obtain a copy from the Rev. Charles, the only individual with Bibles for sale in the area. According to one version of the story, Mr. Charles told her that all of the copies which he had received were sold or already spoken for. Mary was so distraught that Charles spared her one of the copies already promised to another. In another version, she had to wait two days for a supply of Bibles to arrive, and was able to purchase a copy for herself and two other copies for members of her family. According to tradition, it was the impression that this visit by Mary Jones left upon him that impelled Charles to propose to the Council of the Religious Tract Society to form a Society to supply Wales with Bibles.
Mary later married a weaver of Bryn-crug named Thomas Lewis. She died in 1864 and was buried at the graveyard of Bryn-crug Calvinistic Methodist Chapel. Her Bible is now kept at the the British and Foreign Bible Society's Archives in Cambridge University Library. It is a copy of the 1799 edition of the Welsh Bible, ten thousand copies of which were printed at Oxford for the Society for the Propagation of Christian Knowledge. In addition to the Old and New Testaments and the Apocrypha, the volume contains the Book of Common Prayer (in Welsh) and Edmwnd Prys's Welsh metrical Psalms. Mary Jones wrote the following (in English) on the last page of the Apocrypha (spelling is her own):
Mary Jones was born 16th of December 1784. I Bought this in the 16th year of my age. I am Daughter of Jacob Jones and Mary Jones His wife. the Lord may give me grace. Amen. Mary Jones His [is] The True Onour [owner] of this Bible. Bought In the Year 1800 Aged 16th.
Another of the copies she obtained in Bala is in the National Library of Wales at Aberystwyth.
A "Mary Jones Walk" was held in the year 2000 to commemorate Mari's original feat, and has been repeated several times.
Memorial in Llanfihangel-y-Pennant
Incised on front lower part of a memorial obelisk erected over the ruin of the cottage where she lived (near north end of Pont Ty'n-y-fach) is this inscription:
ER COF AM MARI JONES
YR HON YN Y FLWYDDYN 1800,
PAN YN 16 OED A CERDDODD OR / LLE HWN I'R BALA, I YMOFYN BEIBL
GAN Y PARCH. THOMAS CHARLES, B.A.
YR AMCYLCHIAD HWN FU
YR ACHLYSUR SEFYDLIAD Y
ERUTANAIDD A THRAMOR.
IN MEMORY OF MARY JONES, WHO IN
THE YEAR 1800, AT THE AGE OF 16 WALKED
FROM HERE TO BALA, TO PROCURE FROM THE
REVD. THOMAS CHARLES, B.A.
A COPY OF THE WELSH BIBLE. THIS INCIDENT
WAS THE OCCASION OF THE FORMATION OF
THE BRITISH AND FOREIGN BIBLE SOCIETY.
ERECTED BY THE SUNDAY SCHOOLS OF MERIONETH
Inscribed on the outer wall is
'Tyn y Ddol. Cartref Mari Jones'