Ewart Jones

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Sir Ewart Ray Herbert Jones FRS (16 March 1911 – 7 May 2002) was a Welsh organic chemist and academic administrator, whose fields of expertise led him to discoveries into the chemistry of natural products, mainly steroids, terpenes and vitamins. His work also led to the creation of the Jones oxidation.[1]

Personal life[edit]

Jones was born in Wrexham in 1911 and grew up in the small village of Rhostyllen, Wales with his evangelical family. Between July 1924 and March 1927, his sister died of tuberculosis, his grandmother died and his father drowned himself. He attended Grove Park School in Wrexham, Wales and then entered the University College of North Wales, Bangor in 1929, hoping to concentrate on physics, but gained an honours degree in 1932 in Chemistry instead. He was invited to stay at the University by the head of the department, J.L. Simonsen, and stayed there for two years.[2]

In 1937 he married Frances Copp, whom he had met during their studies in Bangor. They had three children, two daughters and a son.

Contributions to Chemistry[edit]

In 1938 he became a Lecturer at Imperial College of Science and Technology, London and in 1940 was awarded the Meldola Medal and Prize by the Royal Society of Chemistry. During the Second World War he trained gas officers and after the war returned to Imperial College as Reader and Assistant Professor.

In 1947, at the age of 36, he accepted the Sir Samuel Hall Chair of Chemistry at the University of Manchester After experimenting with different reagents, he discovered the Jones oxidation (chromic acid oxidation of secondary alcohols to ketones in acetone). After joining the Heilbron group in Manchester, Jones was introduced to acetylene chemistry which eventually led to his work with vitamin A. Later in life, he worked with the Halsall group, specifically with the hydroxypropanone molecule.[3]

In 1954 he was appointed Waynflete Professor of Organic Chemistry and head of the Dyson Perrins Laboratory at the University of Oxford, a position he held until 1978.

Honours and awards[edit]

He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1950 and was knighted in 1963. He served as President of the Chemical Society (1964–1966), President of the Royal Institute of Chemistry (1970–1971) and the first President of the Royal Society of Chemistry (1980–1982). He won the Royal Society Davy Medal in 1966 "in recognition of his distinguished contributions to synthetic organic chemistry and to the elucidation of the structures of natural products".[4]


  1. ^ Jones, J. H. (2003). "Sir Ewart Ray Herbert Jones 16 March 1911 - 7 May 2002 Elected FRS 1950". Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society. 49: 263. doi:10.1098/rsbm.2003.0015. JSTOR 3650225. 
  2. ^ Pearce Wright (18 May 2002). "Sir Ewart Jones". The Guardian. Retrieved 4 May 2010. 
  3. ^ Heilbron, I.M.; Jones, E.R.H.; Sondheimer, F (1949). "129. Researches on acetylenic compounds. Part XV. The oxidation of primary acetylenic carbinols and glycols". J. Chem. Soc.: 604. doi:10.1039/jr9490000604. 
  4. ^ "Fellow Details". Royal Society. Retrieved 8 May 2014.