John Pryce Jones was illegitimate. He was born on the 26th of January 1894 at Ffynnonoerbach, Llangeler. He was the son of Mary Jones, a general domestic servant. He was brought up in Pencader by two of his aunts, Ann Jones of Brynhyfryd and Martha Jones of Gwynfryn who was a dressmaker. Another of his aunts was Beetie Rees the singer.
As a child he was known as Johnny and was a much loved child. He went to Pencader School and at thirteen was considered clever enough to go to the Grammar school in Llandysul as a day pupil. He entered Form II on January 21st 1907. There is a record of Martha Griffiths paying fifteen shillings for his attendance in the summer term in 1907. He did well in his exams and went on to University College Aberystwyth in about 1911 where he gained a degree in Physical Chemistry.
During the First World War he served in the R.N.V.R. as a meteorologist at Scapa Flow, Orkney. He was court marshalled by the Navy because they said that his forecasting was inaccurate and the fleet was held in port when the weather was good enough for them to be at sea. He produced all the technical reports on which he had based his weather forecasts and it subsequently turned out that the Germans had been secretly supplying false information. He was exonerated.
He met his wife, Helen Bune, at Aberystwyth University. She was from Caernarfon in North Wales and became a VAD. In later years she told how upset she was to hear the wounded men calling for their mothers. She was about nineteen years old at the time. They had one son, John, who was tragically drowned in a skating accident on Hornsea Mere while waiting his call up papers for World War II.
After World War I, in 1919, John (Jack) Pryce Jones joined the staff of Reckitt and Sons Ltd. Hull, and remained with the firm until his retirement in 1955. He was appointed Director of Reckitts (Colours) in 1950.
During the Second World War he used his experience as an industrial chemist to find an anti-freeze substance which could be used on aircraft to stop ice building up on the wings.
He was a man of wide interests and his early work dealt largely with the manufacture of ultramarine blue in which he became an expert. He made a special study of lapis lazuli and acquired a wide knowledge of its use in mediaeval times and also of pigments used in oil paintings and methods used in the faking of old masters.
The study of bees and honey was of particular interest to John Pryce Jones. He became a leading authority on honey and in July 1948 he gave a lecture to the Welsh Bee-Keepers’ Association on “The Honey Bee and Pollination”. He recognised the financial importance of bees in pollinating agricultural crops and said that there was shortage of bees and other pollinating insects due to intensive methods of farming and the reckless use of insecticides.
John Pryce Jones died in 1956 in Cardigan hospital. He is buried at Capel Colman Church, Boncath. At his funeral his lifelong friend Canon T. C. Jones, vicar of Evesham, said:
“It was said as a compliment to some men that ‘his mind is like a book’. Mr Pryce Jones’ mind was more like a library; there were so many subjects of which he had gained a profound knowledge, outside of his professional study, and there were one or two branches of knowledge of which it would be true to say that he knew more than anyone in Europe.”
He made an endowment to Hull University Chemistry Department which was used as an award for outstanding students.