Title: Baptist preacher, pastor
Birthdate: 1686
Death Date: July 16, 1760
Plot Location: Section 112, First Baptist Church plot

Screenshot (2618)jones

William Penn opened his colony to anyone seeking freedom to worship God as they wished. Two years after his Quaker settlement was begun in 1682, a group from Rhode Island moved south to Philadelphia to worship according to their Baptist beliefs. In 1688 a number of Welsh farm families arrived and constituted the Pennepack Baptist Church, with the former Rhode Islanders joining with them a few years later.  

Meanwhile, Jenkin Jones was born to John and Elinor Jones in Pembrokeshire, Wales. His life story is otherwise silent until he arrived in Delaware in 1710. He was 24 years old and probably married by then, but there’s no record of any children. 

He and his wife, Hannah, joined a group of Baptists on land deeded to them by William Penn (which later became part of Delaware). Known as the Welsh Tract, a church had been built in 1701 close to what are now the toll booths for the Delaware Turnpike (Interstate 95) near the Maryland state line. By 1725 the Jones family moved to Pennsylvania, having been called to preach at Pennepack Baptist Church. The congregation is still active today at its original location (shown at left) in the Bustleton section of Philadelphia. 

Pennepack was north of the city in those days. It was the “mother church,” responsible for establishing several other congregations, one of which was the first Baptist church located within the city limits. Thus it took the name “First Baptist Church of Philadelphia” and was organized in 1698. When Jenkin became pastor at Pennepack he was also charged with shepherding the flock in Philly as well.

That body of believers had been meeting in a former Quaker meeting house next to Christ Church on 2nd Street. By 1731 they outgrew the wooden structure and built a larger brick building in its place.

It was decided in 1746 that the church had grown sufficiently to be self-supporting. After 21 years of “circuit-riding” between the two locations, Jenkin resigned from Pennepack to become the first full-time pastor of First Baptist and its 56 charter members.

While there he served a term as moderator of the Philadelphia Baptist Association. The group was formed in 1707 by the churches that were birthed by the Pennepack church over the years. The congregation of First Baptist would soon have to rebuild again to accommodate its growth. That happened in 1762 but Rev. Jenkin Jones wouldn’t live to see it, having passed from this life in 1760, following his wife by two years.

They were both buried in the church cemetery on Arch Street east of 2nd. His gravestone, shown above, was installed in the stairwell of the current sanctuary at 17th and Sansom Street after most of the graves were transferred to Mount Moriah in 1860.

Japanese maple tree in front of a monument at Mount Moriah Cemetery

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