Shillong, June 22, 2020 (MMP): Thomas Jones Day is being observed in Meghalaya today and Meghalaya Government has declared it as public holiday, as a mark respect and appreciation the Welsh Missionary Thomas Jones who arrived at Nongsawlia in Sohra, East Khasi Hills District in 1841. Within a short span of time, the Missionary was able to give the Hynniewtrep community the Roman alphabet.
Thomas Jones was born in the village of Tanyffridd, North Wales, on 24 January, 1810. Like nearly everyone in Wales at that time, his family was poor; his father was a carpenter and young Thomas served as his apprentice.
In 1837, Thomas Jones enrolled in the Theological College at Bala, Wales, and also received basic health-care training at the Medical College at Glasgow, Scotland. Jones’ braved the summer heat of the Sylhet plains and the torrential monsoon rains to arrive at Sohra, the British headquarters, on 22 June, 1841. He contributed to the establishment of the Sohra variety (dialect) as the common language throughout the Khasi-Jaiñtia Hills. Besides these, he was untiring in the traditional missionary activities of schools, writing catechisms, opening new mission stations, and sending detailed reports back home. His greatest literary success was the Gospel of Matthew in Khasi, in the Roman script. Thomas Jones died on 16 September, 1849, at the young age of thirty nine; he was buried at the Scottish Church Cemetery at Calcutta. The grave remained forgotten for a century and four decades until it was discovered by the eminent historian, Dr. David R. Syiemlieh. MMP