He was born at Bryngwyn Bach, Dwyran, Anglesey, and received only an elementary education. From the age of twelve, he worked as a farm labourer. He later worked as a counter of cargoes of slate as they were loaded on to ships in Bangor, in modern Gwynedd. Unusually for someone of his background, he was not only a musician and a poet but proficient in several languages. He is noted mainly for his interest in astronomy: he constructed his own telescopes – including "Jumbo", reputed to be the first silver-on-glass reflecting telescope in Wales.
Jones was praised by Samuel Smiles in his 1884 book Men of Invention and Industry. In 2004, he was voted No. 94 in a poll of 100 Welsh Heroes organised by the BBC. A plaque in his honour has been erected by Ynys Môn County Council at Brynsiencyn.
- Thomas, David (1959), "Jones, John (Ioan Bryngwyn Bach; 1818–1898)", in Lloyd, J. E.; Jenkins, R. T.; Davies, W. Ll.; Davies, M. B. (eds.), Dictionary of Welsh Biography Down to 1940, London: Honourable Society of Cymmrodorion, pp. 481–482
- Jones, Bryn (2008). "John Jones, Y Seryddwr (1818–1898)". Retrieved 5 March 2016.
- "John Jones (Jones Y Seryddwr)". 100welshheroes.com. Archived from the original on 1 November 2014. Retrieved 13 January 2015.