Mary Jones was born in Oxford, England, where her father was a cooper. She received a good education, learning French and Italian, and translating works from these languages as a teenager. She began writing poetry at an early age. She lived most of her life with her elder brother, Oliver Jones, chanter and senior chaplain of Christ Church, Oxford. She corresponded with a wide, well-connected circle of friends and relatives, including Samuel Johnson and two aristocratic women: Martha Lovelace, daughter of John Lovelace, 4th Baron, a maid-of-honor to Queen Caroline and later Lady Beauclerk; and Charlotte Clayton, who became Lady Sundon. She occasionally visited them at Windsor and nearby Fern Hill. Her most famous work may be the ballad The Lass of the Hill (1742), published to her surprise in London. In 1750, her wealthy friends financed the publication by subscription of Miscellanies in Prose and Verse, which was to be her only book of poetry published. Several individual poems also appeared in The London Magazine in 1752 and the anthology Poems by Eminent Ladies in 1755. After her brother's death, she was appointed postmistress of Oxford.