Local people of note



This is intended to be a list of the Amman Valley area & Llangiwg parish people that most of us would regard as being 'of note' and also, if possible, provide background information about their achievements and origins.  

When I started to research this feature I had little idea just how many local people, who came from often quite humble beginnings, had risen to such heights in their own walks of life.
New categories and any missing background will be added as and when the data becomes available.
One clear criteria is that a person must be deceased.

I am indebted to Dr Huw Walters for his expert advice in sourcing some of the data below.

Several links marked * point directly to Terry Norman's excellent Ammanford site where there are extensive articles on the respective people.












Politics, finance, business and representation





Academia, Religion and Literature






Performing arts

















Williams, John Ellis Caerwyn (Professor)





Professor Caerwyn Williams was considered to be one of the most erudite, productive and highly respected Celtic scholars of the twentieth century, renowned internationally for the breadth and high calibre of his scholarly research, the amazing abundance of his greatly varied and inspiring publications , and his constant devotion to helping others."  (D Ellis Evans, Fellow of the British Academy)

Genealogy & education

He was born on 17 January 1912 at Waun Leision *, the eldest of 3 children, his father John R Williams was a native of Groeslon, Caernarfonshire and his mother, Maria Price, was from Brynaman.

He was educated at Waun school, followed by Ystalyfera Intermediate County School, a school which produced a remarkable succession of distinguished pupils who went on to hold prominent posts in higher education in Wales. His strong ties to North Wales and the renown of Sir John Morris-Jones, who had been a distinguished Professor of Welsh there for many years, must have influenced the young schoolboy in choosing to become a student at  the University College of North Wales at Bangor in 1930. He concentrated his studies on Latin and Welsh, he obtained his BA degree (with honours in Welsh) in 1934, followed three years later by his MA, working on medieval Welsh religious literature.

In 1946 he married Gwen Watkins, a schoolmistress from Abertridwr in Glamorgan.

He died at Aberystwyth on 12 June 1999, his widow died some 6 months later; they had no children.

Academic career

After two years as a scholar assistant in the Department of Welsh at Bangor he was elected to a University Postgraduate Fellowship which enabled him to study for 2 years in Dublin, which undoubtedly laid deeper foundations for the development of his scholarship on a broad Celtic front.

In 1941, on his return from Dublin, he opted for candidature for the Presbyterian Church of Wales ministry (Calvinistic Methodists) and obtained a University of Wales BD degree in 1944 at the United Theological College in Aberystwyth. This was followed by the obligatory year's training for pastoral work at the Calvinistic Methodist Church in Wales's Theological College in Bala, although this did not lead to his full ordination.

In 1945 he was appointed to a lectureship in the Department of Welsh at Bangor. During his second year he was afflicted by a severe attack of tuberculosis and spent many months in Llangwyfan Sanatorium, he didn't  return to lecturing  for two years.

In his early career he received invitations for more senior posts, at Dublin, Los Angeles and Aberystwyth , but remained loyal to Bangor. He was appointed as Professor of Welsh there in 1953 and held that position until 1965 when he accepted an invitation to be the first occupant of a newly established Chair of Irish at Aberystwyth. In 1968-9 he spent a sabbatical year at the University of California at Los Angeles.

In 1978,  the Centre for Advanced Welsh and Celtic Studies was established at Aberystwyth by the University College of Wales and Caerwyn Williams was its Director from 1978 until 1985. In 1985 the Centre was adopted as a University of Wales Research Centre with a new building near the NLW, Professor Geraint Gruffydd becoming its first Director. Caerwyn Williams continued his association, as the Centre's Honorary Consulting Editor until his death.

Caerwyn Williams was an expert on both linguistics and literary criticism, spanning early, medieval and modern periods, and wrote many papers across these specialities. His most important contributions to scholarship were concerned with the literature of the Celtic countries in many periods. His publications on Welsh language and literature in all periods were numerous and varied.

He was also editor of several scholarly journals - including Y Traethodydd, Studia Celtica and Ysgrifau Beirniadol.

Professor Caerwyn Williams was undoubtedly one of the most learned and versatile Welsh scholars of the twentieth century, he was proud of his Welsh origin and deeply caring about Wales.

An annual Caerwyn Williams Memorial Lecture in honour of his remarkable talent and contribution to Welsh and Celtic Studies has been established by the University of Wales Centre for Advanced Welsh and Celtic Studies.

[Based on various published obituaries, principally that by D Ellis Evans published in Proceedings of the British Academy 2001]

*In the Foreword to Dr Huw Walters' book Canu'r Pwll a'r Pulpud, Professor Williams refers to the farmhouse called Pencae-du on Penlle'r fedwen  above the Waun as being where he was born and where members of his mother's family had lived. This was intriguing since my own Rees ancestors were still at Pencaedu in at least 1901/20 and I did not know of a connection. However, research has now established that Caerwyn's mother Maria Price was a first cousin to my Pencaedu grandmother, Mary Rees as their respective mothers Sarah  and Anne Jones were sisters. [Gareth Hicks 22 Jan 2005].

Details of extant records on Archives Network Wales;

"Roedd yr Athro J. E. Caerwyn Williams (1912-1999) yn un o brif ysgolheigion Cymraeg a Cheltaidd yr ugeinfed ganrif.
Fe'i ganwyd yng Ngwauncaegurwen, Morgannwg, 17 Ionawr 1912, yr hynaf o dri phlentyn John R. a Maria Williams. Derbyniodd ei addysg yn Ysgol Sir Ystalyfera, Coleg y Brifysgol, Bangor, Coleg y Brifysgol a Choleg y Drindod, Dulyn, a Cholegau Diwinyddol Aberystwyth a'r Bala. Ymunodd staff Adran y Gymraeg, Bangor, yn 1945, a'r flwyddyn ganlynol fe'i priodwyd Gwen Watkins o Abertridwr. Fe'i penodwyd yn Athro'r Gymraeg ym Mangor yn 1953. Yn 1965 symudodd i Goleg Prifysgol Cymru, Aberystwyth, i fod yn Athro cyntaf yr Wyddeleg ym Mhrifysgol Cymru. Cafodd radd D.Litt.Celt.Er Anrhydedd gan Brifysgol Genedlaethol Iwerddon yn 1967 a Phrifysgol Cymru yn 1983, a'i ethol yn Gymrawd yr Academi Brydeinig yn 1978 ac yn Aelod Mygedol o Academi Frenhinol Iwerddon yn 1989. Fe'i etholwyd yn Llywydd yr Academi Gymreig yn 1988. Ar l ymddeol yn 1979 fe'i penodwyd yn Gyfarwyddwr Canolfan Uwchefrydiau Cymreig a Cheltaidd Prifysgol Cymru. Arhosodd yn y swydd honno tan 1985. Bu farw 8 Mehefin 1999.
Yr oedd yn awdurdod ar y gwareiddiad Celtaidd ac ysgrifennodd yn helaeth am draddodiadau llenyddol Cymru ac Iwerddon. Ymhlith ei brif gyfraniadau fel ysgolhaig Cymraeg mae ei astudiaethau ar y Gogynfeirdd a llenyddiaeth grefyddol yr Oesoedd Canol, gan gynnwys Beirdd y Tywysogion (1973), Canu Crefyddol y Gogynfeirdd (1977) a The Poets of the Welsh Princes (1978). Ysgrifennodd hefyd ar lenyddiaeth mwy diweddar Cymru, gan gynnwys ei astudiaethau o waith Edward Jones, Maes-y-Plwm, geiriadurwyr Cymraeg cyfnod y Dadeni, John Morris-Jones a'i gylch, ac amryw o'r prif lenorion cyfoes, megis Syr T. H. Parry-Williams, Waldo Williams a Saunders Lewis. Fel ysgolhaig Gwyddeleg ei brif gyfraniadau oedd Traddodiad Llenyddol Iwerddon (1958), Y Storwr Gwyddeleg a'i Chwedlau (1972) a The Court Poet in Me dieval Ireland (1972). Roedd yn gyd-awdur The Irish Literary Tradition (1992). Cyhoeddodd gyfieithiadau o storau Gwyddeleg a Llydaweg, ynghyd ag astudiaethau ieithyddol ar yr ieithoedd hyn a'r Gymraeg. Yn ogystal golygu cyfrolau fel Ll1/4n a Llafar Mn (1963), Ll1/4n Doe a Heddiw (1964) a Literature in Celtic Countries (1971), bu'n olygydd Y Traethodydd ac Ysgifau Beirniadol o 1965 ymlaen, St udia Celtica o 1966 a chyfres Ll1/4n y Llenor o 1983. Bu'n olygydd ymgynghorol Geiriadur Prifysgol Cymru er 1968, ac yn olygydd Llyfryddiaeth yr Iaith Gymraeg (1988) a Gwaith Meilyr Brydydd a'i ddisg ynyddion (1994)."

Records;- "..... include papers, [1854 x 1999], relating to various aspects of his life and work, as Professor of Welsh and Irish, and as author, translator and editor. There are also some letters and some personal papers"

Davies, John Henry






He was born in Llandeilo town on 17th May 1887, one of 6 known children, his father William was from Llandeilofawr and his mother, Ann Lloyd, was from Llanycrwys.
His grandfather was Enock, brother of William Davies - the latter was my gg grandfather, they were both born in Llansawel parish to David and Mary Davies of Lanwen.

The 1891 census shows the father, William, living at the Waun Post Office, age 32, a boarder with Jenton Mark, shoemaker. His family were then still at Towy Terrace, Llandeilo,; - Anne Davies 34, Llanycrwys, & sons David 6, William 4, John H 3 and Rees 1[all born in Llandeilofawr].
The 1901 census has the family in Cwmgors, next entry to Thomas Howells, tailor/draper (opposite Rock Shop).
William  shown as a boot & shoe maker - all fits with what we knew - his shop was opposite Rock Shop and 'Tirbach Terrace' - William died in 1928.

John Henry was educated at the GCG Elementary school, Ystalyfera Grammar school and finally the University College of Wales, Cardiff in 1909-11 where he gained a diploma in mining.

He married Leonora Jones (of the Crown, Brynamman) in 1919 at Ebenezer chapel in Swansea, they lived in Clare Rd and Uplands Pontardawe. She was an MBE and JP. and in 1926 was the secretary of the Coalfields Distress Fund, and also secretary of the Ystalyfera Labour party.

He died in 1971 and his widow in 1976, they had no children.

Academic career

He became Principal of the Pontardawe Mining and Technical Institute and the first headmaster of the Secondary Technical School for Boys in Pontardawe in 1933, having been for 22 years a Glamorgan County Mining lecturer.

Qualifications; Min.Dip., M.E., F.G.S., M.R.S.T., 1st class Honours and Medallist in Mining.

He was awarded the R H Worth prize in 1963 by the Geological Society in  London for his work on " the integration of Coal measures stratigraphy ". His pioneer work on geological research in identifying and correlating coal seams and zoning of the coal measures, shed a new light on, and forged a new weapon for overcoming some difficult mining problems.

His book, the "History of Pontardawe and District" was published in 1967, and is an indispensible source for anyone interested in the area's history - as the most cursory glance through this site will demonstrate !

See the Picture Gallery ( Pontardawe 12) for two photographs of him, one with his brothers. up

James, John J.P.





John James was born in Cwmgors in 1869, his parents moved to Clydach and John worked as a boatman's mate on the Swansea Canal when nine years old.

This is probably the family on the 1881 census at Bwllfa, Clase --- which is in the Clydach area;

When he was twelve John  started to work in a colliery. At eighteen year's of age, owing to ill health, he left the colliery and attended Watcyn Wyn's Gwynfryn Academy, Ammanford.

He returned to colliery work until 1898 when a long strike took place and he first made his mark as a champion of the workers. For this he was victimised by the coal owners but the Cwmgors Colliery workers unanimously elected him as their checkweigher, a position he filled for thirteen years until he became Miners' Agent by a record majority.  In his time he was also Secretary of the Anthracite Miners' District of the South Wales Miners' Federation.

He was fluent in both English and Welsh and a staunch supporter of everything Welsh. As he was hard of hearing he always read books covering a wide range of subjects while he travelled in the train or bus.

He was a pioneer in Miners' Welfare schemes and was one of the founders in South Wales of the Cooperative movement, and the first president of the Cwmgors Co-operative Society.

In religion he was a Congregationalist and a deacon at Tabernacl, Cwmgors. He was a Justice of the Peace.

He frequently contributed articles to the press on mining matters and won first prize in the National Eisteddfod for an essay in Welsh styled " The Economic Doctrines of Karl Marx".

He supported education in arts, science and technology and became the first trustee of the Central Labour College, London. He was a very influential man, as well as an astute negotiator and skilful arbitrator.

He was married to Theodosia, he died in 1942.

[Partly based on History of Pontardawe by John Henry Davies, 1967]

For further reading , there is a chapter on John James by Ioan Matthews called "Hen Arwr Maes y Glo Carreg" in the book Cwm Aman by Hywel Teifi Edwards. up

Peers, Donald





Born 1909, son of Frank Peers, his grandfather was Ebenezer Rees of Ystalyfera - the printer and founder editor of Llais Llafur.  The family lived in Mill Rd, Betws and  Donald went to the Amman Valley Grammar School.

During WWII  he served as a clerk in the RASC for 4 years, a long series of wartime concerts gave him confidence on stage. His 'lucky break' came in 1948 with a half hour programme for the BBC singing songs like 'A Slow Boat to China'.

At aged 42 he was a successful 'pop idol' for 5 years, went to Australia for 2 years, but on his return his fans had forgotten him. He began to work his way back up to stardom through the club circuit with his revival of romantic ballads. During a visit to Australia he broke his back although he did regain his ability to walk.

He had a televison series and made several films. His record successes included 'Dear Hearts and Gentle People' and 'Out of a Clear Blue Sky'.

He died in a Brighton nursing home in 1973, before his death he wrote a book called 'Pathway ' describing his journey from Betws and Ammanford to the Albert Hall.

[Based on Betws Mas o'r Byd by the Betws History Group 2001]

See also  http://www.terrynorm.ic24.net/index.htm

Williams, David James, MP





He was born in 1897 at Tai'rgwaith and went to the Tai'rgwaith Infant school and Gwauncaegurwen Elementary School followed by the Labour College, London for 2 years and Ruskin College, Oxford for 1 year..

He became a tutor to the Labour College in Fifeshire in 1925/26. After acting as a check weigher in Scotland he returned to be secretary of the Miners' Lodge and checkweigher of Maerdy Pit.

He visited Russia in 1933, one of his publications was the "Capitalist Combination of the Coal Industry", 1924.

He married Janet Scott Alexander in 1939, she was a student at Ruskin College.

He represented the Caegurwen Ward of the Pontardawe RDC and was chairman in 1939/40.

He represented the Neath division in Parliament following on from Sir William Jenkins.
Owing to ill health, he retired as a Member of Parliament in 1964, he and his wife lived at Penscynor, near Neath.

[Based on History of Pontardawe by John Henry Davies 1967]

Davies, Ben Rev. up




He was the co-author of Hanes Eglwys Cwmllynfell  written in 1935 together with the Rev Dyfnallt Owen and the Rev J D Jones. These notes below are partly extracted/translated from that book.

Ben Davies was born at Dolgam on the 11th of October 1864, he was the son of Dafydd and Sarah Davies of Dolgam. His mother was a daughter of Dafydd William, of Dolgam, one of the leading devout characters in the Cwmllynfell Chapel. Another of the latter's daughters was the mother of Watcyn Wyn.

Dolgam stood (and still does) on the slopes of Mynydd Du, (almost a mile north east of Cwmllynfell village); as a 'son of the mountain' his first responsibility was to shepherd the tiny sheep. He attended Cwmllynfell Day School when he was about six.

This appears to be the family on the 1881 census at Nuntybrain, Llangadock

In the next chapter of his life he worked underground at the Old Cwmllynfell Pit, his job was to look after the door in the company of Gwilym Wyn. That closed soon afterwards and he worked for a while in the 'Cerrig Pydron' on Mynydd Du. His mining career spanned the years from aged 13 until he was 21.

He was received as a member of Cwmllynfell Chapel when he was aged about twelve by the Rev John Rees. When he was about  thirteen he went back to the Day School to qualify himself to be a teacher, and worked for some time as an assistant teacher but became convinced that that wasn't his calling. There was nothing for it but to go back to the coal mines, he worked at Hendreforgan, Brynmorgan and Brynhenllys. In the meantime he often won prizes in narration, literature and verse. He could harmonise well before he was twelve. It was Quarter Bach Sunday School that initiated him in Biblical and religious  knowledge and there he came to be noticed for his narration of psalms and hymns. As he got older he went to the Sunday School at Hen Gapel, and under his favourite teacher, W D Price, he delighted in the public work of the Cyfarfod Gweddi, the fellowship, and the Cwrdd Pen Chwarter. His first major success was to win the chair at Tredegar for his awdl on Virtue, ' Rhinwedd', and he was only twenty one years of age.

He started to preach in 1885, and in that year he went to the Grammar School at Llansawel. By the end of the year he was accepted into Bala Independent College where he was in the charge of the Principal M D Jones and the Teacher, T. Rees BA.
He was inaugurated as a minister in May 1888 at Bwlchgwyn and Llandegla in Denbighshire.

In 1890, he received  a call from Panteg, Ystalyfera and he started his ministry there in February 1891. He was in his element, once more back amongst people who knew his character well as he was but a stone's throw from his old home. The crowds flocked to hear him, the church grew greatly from year to year and reached high-water during the Revival of 1904/5. Fortunately, the beautiful New Chapel had room for a thousand to sit, having opened five years before that, a magnificent monument to the success of the ministry.

In the 36 year period of his ministry at Panteg he was blessed with unbroken success.

He started to suffer from deafness some years back and faced with that handicap decided to leave the ministry and to the great sorrow of his people retired in 1927. The church showed their great regard for him by raising a substantial testimonial for him.

He delivered many lectures the length and breadth of Wales and the towns of England on refined subjects ;- Emanuel Hiraethog; Dewi Sant; Twm o'r Nant; Ann Griffiths; Morgan Llwyd of Wynedd; Watcyn Wyn; Gwlad y Bryniau; Y Beirdd Diweddar; Islwyn; Ceiriog; Dyfed; Trebor Mai; Y Wladfa Gymreig; Cymry'r Andes. He wrote a lot from time to time for the Geninen, Y Dysgedydd, Y Diwygiwr, Y Tyst. His achievements as a bard are numerous and his many works winning prizes at various Eisteddfodau are listed in the book but  not detailed here although it would be mean not to mention his winning the crown at the Rhyl national in 1892 (even if having to make do with only half the prize) and the chair at Llandudno in 1896.

He stands in the first rank of hymnists in his country, his hymns are the fruits of his deep spiritual experience. In the last few years he published a number of religious songs in Y Tyst. He was one of the editors of the hymn book, Y Caniedydd Newydd a Chaniedydd y Plant.

When he was 26 years old he married Miss M E Williams, the daughter of Mr & Mrs G Williams, Siop, Bwlchgwyn, she died within a few years. he married the second time, to Miss M Morgan, Ystalyfera, daughter of the late Mr Lewis Morgan, and he buried her too. He also saw his son Emrys buried, his only son. His daughters moved to London and by now (1935) he is there too, but continuing to preach at the Welsh Chapels there until the end.

He died in 1937.

(The above partly based on The Dictionary of Welsh Biography, Down to 1940; Honourable Society of Cymmrodorion; 1959, otherwise on Hanes Eglwys Cwmllynfell, by The Reverends J Dyfnallt Owen M.A , J D Jones and Ben Davies; 1935)



Taken from Ben Davies' memoirs which form part of the book 'Frwythau Dethol'.
Translated by his grand-daughter Gwenda Lewis 2007

When Ben was about 6 years old there came the very unhappy time when  he started day school. It was thought best to send him to the 'British School' as it was highly regarded in the area.
Ben knew nothing about this school and imagined its name had something to do with the style of clothes worn by the children!  
The school was a long walk away, on the other side of the River Llynfell, so to travel there on foot, with the shortage of boots and with thoughts of leaving the cattle and sheep and unfinished tasks in the fields it is not surprising that Ben viewed the prospect with a heavy heart.

His misgivings were confirmed when he discovered that only English was to be spoken in the school and he knew only 'yes' and 'no'.
He later wrote:

English was the language of course and the only thing I could say was 'yes' and 'no' and nobody came to help me understand the work. I remember the time when we had to recite these words to each other
'It is a sin to steal a pin, much more to steal a greater thing'
or to read from a book
'Cain was a tiller of the ground and Abel was a keeper of sheep'.
It is no wonder everything was above my head.

One might have hoped that playtime would bring some respite, but:

Playtime was no better because the children's play was nasty and so much of it was fighting. There was a cruel spirit, a wickedness, in that school and it is a mystery to me, even today. There was some warfare between the children of the valley and the hill children. There would be a battle between the two with sticks and stones and sometimes there were nasty injuries. They chased each other through the fields, across the river, to the slopes and to the houses. The children were influenced by the warfare on the continent between France and Prussia in those days.

 Ben paints a graphic picture of life and punishment within the dusty schoolroom:

The schoolmaster had a pulpit, not a desk, but a pulpit with four or  five steps going up to it. It was from there that our names were called each morning and we had to answer 'Yes, Sir'.

There was punishment for incorrect work and there was a stream of heated  exchanges between the schoolmaster and the children. There were frequent attempts to stir up trouble. I remember him throwing a ruler from the pulpit at a friend of mine but it raised a big bump on my head. (it would have been a length of heavy wooden pole, possibly of ebony, with inches marked on it, not the lightweight rulers of today).

Sometimes the worst offenders were put in the 'Black Hole'. This was the space under the floor. The floorboards were lifted and the miscreant was pushed in, like Joseph in the pit. He would be imprisoned there until the afternoon and released when the children left. He would spend the time in the Black Hole searching for marbles which had fallen down there through holes in the schoolroom floor.

Another punishment was to make the offender stand on one leg on his desk!

 It is not surprising that the happiest time for Ben was 4 o'clock when the children went home. He would walk with two or three other children across the railway track, along the footpath and across a field; then across the wooden bridge without a handrail over the River Llynfell, across another field, through the yard at Ty Gwyn (White House) and across the fields to the moors, over the 'Gwter Jams' ('James' Ditch') stream, then out to the fields of Dolgam - quite a long walk for a little boy who didn't always have boots.
But when he arrived back on his beloved home territory:

How sweet was the tranquillity there and gentle was the walk over the  fields or going to the hill and the 'Great Stone Rock'. While I was in that school there was often a deep longing in my soul, a longing for the mountain, for the gentle river, for the sheep and the lambs - and my Welsh books.

 Since the call of farm duties caused Ben to miss school often he was not sure he learned anything in what he describes as 'those ragged days' apart from a great dislike of the English language which he still found 'tiresome' in 1936, when he was writing his memoirs (which are in Welsh). He acknowledged that the early days of his career would have been very different if he had learned to love the English language but he failed to grasp it fully and it remained a problem to him for the rest of his life.


Owen, J. Dyfnallt M.A  Rev





He was the co-author of Hanes Eglwys Cwmllynfell  written in 1935 together with the Rev Ben Davies and the Rev J D Jones. These notes below are partly extracted/translated from that book.

John Dyfnallt Owen was born  on 7th April 1873 at Coedffaldau (almost a mile south of Cwmllynfell village), one of the children of Rhiwfawr, son of Dafydd and Angharad Owen. His grandfather on his mother's side was a notable old character, --- Dafydd Rhys William. It was a great  misfortune for him to lose his mother when he was about a year old, but he was well cared for by both sides of the family. He spent some years at his grandmother's hearth on Mynydd Bach until his father remarried. He would spent some part of every year as a boy in the house of his grandparents on Cefnbrynbrain.

This would appear to be the family on the 1881 census at 'Part Of Hendreforgan'

He grew up a lively lad, highspirited and mischievous. He left the Day School when he was 12 to follow the coal mining calling in Cwmgilfach, and afterwards at Gwauncaegurwen, Hendreforgan and Brynhenllys. In the period he worked underground, reading, reciting and poetry is what was on his mind. From when he was 14 he often won at local Eisteddfodau with his 'englynion a phenillion', and even more often for his narrations.

He was one of the last pupils in Mrs Bain's Sunday School and for years treasured the Bible she gave him. It was customary for him to recite chapters at the start of the School, and he is greatly in the debt of the Cwrdd Pen Chwarter and Cyfarfodydd Llenyddol.

When he was sixteen, he was received as a member in Cwmllynfell by the Rev John Rees. In less than a year , after Eglwys Rhiwfawr was formed, he was encouraged to start preaching, and did so in September 1892, and was doubly assured in his industry to prepare to go to the School.

He said goodbye to Rhiwfawr early in 1893, he worked hard at Ysgol yr Hen Goleg, Caerfyrddin. In June 1894, he was accepted at Coleg Bala-Bangor. He was 'at the feet 'of Sir John Morris Jones in Ngholeg y Gogledd. [University College of North Wales, Bangor]. He was prominent in the Drama Society at the College. In the two years that he followed his theology course he won the Syr Edward Anwyl prize in Hebrew. At the end of the course he obtained the diploma, A.T.S.

In June 1898, he was ordained in Trawsfynydd, Merioneth, he had a circuit of seven miles each Sunday to preach three times. He worked diligently with the childen and the the chapel's Literary Society, one of his favourite pupils was the bard Hedd Wyn.

In February 1902, he moved to Ebeneser (now Deiniolen), Arfon, he centred his efforts there with literary and biblical classes for all ages.

In the summer of 1904 he married Miss Annie Hopkin (Cerddores y De ), Gilfach yr Haidd, Alltygrug. They had two children.

In October 1905, he commenced his ministry at Sardis, Pontypridd, the church continued to grow whilst he was there.

In the Spring of 1910, he accepted a call to the old Eglwys Heol Awst, Carmarthen where he remained until he retired from the ministry.

He was very involved in matters Celtic, Welsh and national, he was a fervant nationalist throughout his life. He addressed the Celtic Congress more than once.

In his time in college and the early years  of his ministry he won first prizes at various Eisteddfodau, ---Dolgellau; Ffestiniog; y Bala; Lerpwl; Penygroes; Arfon, and others. He was considered the  best  candidate for the Crown by one of the judges at the National Eisteddfod in Rhyl in 1904. He won the Crown at the National in Swansea in 1907 with ' Y Greal Santaidd'. He lectured a lot on Ceiriog; Owen Glyndwr; Y Mabinogion; Teithio'r Cyfandir; Y Beca; Marchogion Arthur; Jac Glan y Gors; Hen gymeriadau Bro; and others.

In 1929 (according  to HEC published in 1935, but  DWB  says this was in 1953) he was granted an honorary degree MA by the University of Wales.

Amongst the books published by him are Machan Mawr I (Comedi); Myfyrion a Chaneuon Maes y Tan; O Ben Tir Llydaw; Ym Min yr Hwyr; and booklets on Stephen Hughes; Morgan Llwyd o Wynedd, etc.

He retired to live at Aberystwyth in 1947, he was elected Archdruid of Wales at Rhyl in 1954.

He died in 1956 and his ashes scattered over Mynydd Du.

A tribute to him in Y Cymro described him as  "one of the best loved of the Welsh"


Details of extant records on Archives Network Wales for the following;


Davies, William David (Professor) up




He was a pivotal figure in the fields of New Testament and Christian origins who crossed several personal and scholarly boundaries in a long and significant career." (D Moody Smith, The Independent 2/7/01)

Genealogy & Education

William David Davies was born in Glanaman on 9th December 1911.

He studied at the University of Wales in Cardiff, the Memorial College in Brecon, and Cambridge University where he studied with Professor C H Dodd.
He obtained his BA in 1934 at Cardiff with honours in Classical Greek and Semitic Studies; and his BD in 1938 at the University of Wales (Memorial College, Brecon); and at Cambridge a BA in 1940 and MA in 1942.

In 1942 he married Eurwen Llewelyn whom he had known from childhood, they had a daughter .

He died aged 89 on 12th June 2001 at Durham, North Carolina, he was buried at Glanaman.

Academic career

In 1941  he was ordained into the Congregational Church at Fowlemere  and Thriplow in Cambridgeshire where he served until 1946. He was also Assistant Tutor at Cheshunt College, Cambridge in 1941-42. He was Professor of New Testament Studies at the Yorkshire United College, Bradford in 1946-50.

However, most of his academic career was spent in America starting with with an appointment to Duke University, North Carolina in 1950 where he taught for 5 years before joining Princeton in 1955. After a few years he moved on to Union Seminary, New York, with a chair at Columbia University. In 1966 he returned to Duke University until his retirement in 1981. He then became professor at Texas Christian University until 1985 when he moved back to his retirement home in Duke. He also held visiting professorships at several universities.

He obviously made intermittent return visits to his homeland as in 1964 he was the Syr Owen Evans Lecturer at the University of Wales; and in 1968 the Pantyfedwen Lecturer, the James Foundation, University College of Wales, Swansea. He was President of the Welsh Overseas in  November 1970 when giving the address at the National Eisteddfod at Ammanford.

Some of his published works included  the classic Paul and Rabinic Judaism (1948), The Setting of the Sermon on the Mount (1966), and The Gospel and the Land: Early Christianity and Jewish Territorial Doctrine (1974). His non- technical works  intended to bridge the gulf between the academic and non-academic worlds included his Invitation to the New Testament (1966).

He was elected an Honorary fellow of Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge, the highest honour a Cambridge college bestows and three of the other half dozen are Noble Prize winners. He was also a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences; and a Corresponding Fellow of the British Academy.
He received honorary doctorates from St Andrews, Scotland and from the University of Wales in recognition of his contribution to Biblical scholarship.

He was a past president of the International Society for New Testament Studies, and Honorary President of the Society for Biblical Literature in the United States. He was a member of the executive council of the World Congress of Jewish Studies, Jerusalem.

Roberts, Gomer Morgan Rev up




Genealogy & Education

Gomer Morgan Roberts was born on the 3rd of January 1904 at Cwm Bach in Llandybie parish, his parents were Morgan and Rachel Roberts.

His father was from Llanfihangel Aberbythych parish. Gomer referred in one of his writings to a Morgan Thomas Wallter, who built a hothouse for John Vaughan of Golden Grove, and believed him to be his great great grandfather. His son, Thomas Morgan (1789-1877) lived in Wenallt Isaf (or Bwllaca) and is buried near the gate of the church in Llanfihangel Aberbythych. Sarah, the daughter of Thomas and Ann Morgan, married Daniel Roberts from Llandybie and it is their son, Morgan, who is Gomer's father.

His mother's family came from around and about  Llandyfan, Trap and Carreg Cennen. Her great grandmother was Sarah, daughter of Job Roberts from Cefnblewyn (Job Roberts y Calchwr). Sarah married John Lewis, the village cobbler and their daughter Ann married William Vaughan, the butcher from Wernos near Rhydaman. Gomer's mother Rachel was the latter couple's daughter.

He was left fatherless at the age of eight, he had eleven brothers and sisters.

In 1917, at the age of thirteen, after passing the then compulsory 'labour examination',  he went to work at the colliery at Pencae'reithin on the edge of Llandybie.

A little later on he started to compete in literary meetings and minor eisteddfodau in the district, and presently came into contact with Amanwy. When he was sixteen he started evening classes by joining one of the External Student Classes of the University held at Ban-yr-Ynn (College St), Ammanford, that was, at the time in the hands of the Rev John Griffiths, of Ebeneser chapel in the town. Amongst the members of the class were John Harries (Irlwyn), John Roberts (a collier at Gelliceidrim), and David Mainwaring (a collier from Llandybie). It was Amanwy who encouraged the others  in this group in their competing in the local eisteddfodau.
Gomer also studied economics at a class run in Capel Hendre by Tom Hughes Griffiths of Cae'r Bryn, a cousin to Amanwy.

In 1923, aged nineteen, Gomer Roberts won a WEA scholarship worth 60 to Fircroft Adult College near Birmingham, and it was Amanwy who went all out to help find the money he needed. Gomer himself told the tale of how Amanwy put together a book of selected works by local miners, including Gwyneufryn Davies from Cwm-coch; Gwilym Llwyn-du; Dafydd Manri from Pen-y-groes; Jac Jones of Cross Hands, and of course that of Amanwy and Gomer himself. This book was called O lwch y lofa: cyfrol o ganu gan chwech o lowyr Sir Gar and they easily sold a thousand copies for one shilling each with Gomer ending up with 30 towards his upcoming expenses at Fircroft.

In 1924, he went on to the Trefecca Preparatory School in Brecon, followed by periods at the Methodist theological colleges at Aberystwyth and Bala.

In 1930, Gomer married Gladys Jones at Bethany Chapel, Rhydaman, she was a daughter of Mr & Mrs Joseph Jones from Coopers Well, Pantyffynnon.. They had a daughter.

He suffered a stroke in 1983, he died on 15 March 1993.

Academic and religious career

Gomer had begun  his early preaching at Gosen, Llandybie, a Calvinistic Methodist chapel.

In 1930 he was ordained minister of the Presbyterian Church of Wales and was  nine years at Faerdre, Clydach.  In 1939 he moved to Jerusalem, Pontrhydyfen, near Port Talbot, where he spent the following 19 years.

In 1949, Gomer was awarded an honorary MA from the University of Wales in recognition of the fact that he had become one of the main historians of Calvinistic Methodism in Wales. He wrote a number of booklets on the history of individual churches, and had put together several studies of the main leaders and hymnists of the Methodist revival, starting with the publication of Bywyd y gwaith Peter Williams which won him a prize at Cardigan Eisteddfod in 1942 . This was followed by volumes on William Williams, Pantycelyn and Howell Harris. He wrote Dafydd Jones o Gaeo in 1944, winning first prize at the National Eisteddfod of that year at Llandybie.

He was appointed editor of Cylchgrawn Hanes in 1947.  He was the editor of Hanes Methodistiaeth Galfinaidd Cymru which two volumes were published in 1973 and 1978. He was responsible for no fewer than forty five volumes in all, apart from over seven hundred articles he wrote and published in the Welsh periodical press, and over a hundred and ten biographies in Y Bywgraffiadur Cymreig hyd 1940.

One of the results of the lifelong friendship of Gomer Roberts and Amanwy was the 1950's film David, one of the Welsh features in the Festival of Britain in 1951. This was based on the lives of Gomer and Amanwy. Gomer was also one of the script writers for the radio programme Teulu'r Manse.

At a more parochial level, Gomer Roberts was also the author of The History of the Parish of Llandybie which he wrote in 1938. His foreword to this book includes this partial extract below;
"It was the late Reverend T Valentine Evans who first encouraged me to think of writing the history of the parish where I had been born. I had the opportunity to collect material when I was in charge of the local history and antiquities column in the Amman Valley Chronicle. Through this weekly column, I came in touch with many friends with an interest like myself in the history of the district where they were born................................the National Eisteddfod in Cardiff had issued their programme, and it contained an offer of a prize of 20 guines for an essay on the history of any country parish in Wales. I was urged to compete, which I did, and won the prize against 16 competitors. The adjudication was by Sir John E Lloyd, D.Litt.........."

On the occasion of his being awarded the University of Wales honorary D.Litt degree in 1985, the late Athro Bedwyr Lewis Jones said of Gomer;
"It is astonishing that one man has achieved and accomplished so much work --- even more astonishing when we realise that this was achieved when he was on his own in his leisure hours and allowing for his ministry of the Calvinistic Methodist chapels in Clydach, Pont-rhyd-y-fen and Llandudoch."

Apart from the two honorary degrees mentioned, his scholarship was also acknowledged by the University of Wales with the award of the prestigious Ellis Griffith Memorial Prize in both 1950 and 1966.

From 1958 he was the pastor at Seion, Llandudoch in St Dogmaels, near Cardigan, from where, in 1968, he retired  from the ministry and moved to  live at Heol y Blaenau, Llandybie, not far from his birthplace. A year later he was elected Moderator of the South Wales Association and in 1973 Moderator of the General Assembly.

In 1982, his colleagues in the Historical Society published a collection of essays in his honour called Gwanwyn Duw, see below *.

*Wynne Davies, J E (ed). Gwanwyn Duw (The Spring of God). Gwasg Pantycelyn, Caernarfon; 1982. A tribute to the Rev. Gomer Morgan Roberts, details of his life and works with a collection of essays in his honour published by his colleagues in the Historical Society, contains a full bibliography of his writings. The essays are titled;


Jones, Griffith Canon





Griffith Jones was born in 1845, the third son of John and Bridget Jones of Cross Inn. On the 1851 census they lived  at 59, Cross Inn and his parents and siblings were shown as labourers. From 1861 to 1891 the family lived at Tyrhyddallt, Cross Inn. By 1861 Griffith was working as a farmer's servant.

On the 1871 he is shown as a student for Holy Orders, and according to Crockfords Clerical Dictionary Griffith studied at St Bees College in Cumberland from 1871 to 1873. He was curate at Ganllwyd, Llanelltyd in 1873-75 and also at Wrexham in 1875-79. He became Vicar of Mostyn, St Asaphs diocese in 1879.

In 1879, Griffith, described as a widower on the marriage ecrtificate, married Mary Ann Broughton, whose father was a Joshua Broughton, a gentleman of York Villa, Wrexham. The Mostyn parish records show the baptism of his eleven children by him there.

In 1897, he was appointed  a Canon of St Asaph Cathedral and in 1903 left Mostyn to become Rector of Marchwiel, near Wrexham where he died in 1907 aged 62. His wife died in 1945.

In 'The History of Llandybie', the Rev Gomer Roberts refers to Griffith Jones as one of the most able and popular preachers  in the Church in Wales.

(Based on an article by Mrs Averil Thomas (his great great niece) in the Dec 2001 journal of Dyfed FHS journal.)

Here is a photograph of him contributed by Bob Davies-Jones

Davies, David Tegfan  Rev





David Tegfan Davies was born in Abergwili parish in 1883, brought up by his grandparents in the Peniel district. Became a farm servant when he left school and a member at Peniel Congregational chapel where he began to preach in 1903. He went to Old College, Carmarthen before going to Bala-Bangor College in 1905.

He was ordained at Seion, Pontypridd in 1908, and inducted at Addoldy, Glyn-neath in 1911. He arrived at Gellimanwydd in 1915 and remained the minister there for 50 years.

He was chairman of the local Distress Committee in Ammanford in the 1930s. His published works include; O ganol shir Gar, Cyn dringo'r Mynydd Du, Rhamantwr y De, and Cyffro'r hen goffrau. He was much travelled, including a preaching tour in the USA. He was president of the Union of Welsh Independents in 1958. He received an Honorary DD (Oslo), and, in 1965, the OBE for humanitarian acts.

He first married Anna Twining (d. 1933) in Carmarthen in 1908, and second married Sarah Jane Davies of Ammanford in 1934. He died in 1968 and is buried in Gellimanwydd cemetery.

(Based on The Dictionary of Welsh Biography, 1941-70; Honourable Society of Cymmrodorion, 2001)

See also http://www.terrynorm.ic24.net/index.htm

Davies, William Anthony





William Anthony Davies, born 1 March 1886 in Cwarter Coch, Cwmgrenig, Glanaman; father Daniel Davies, a miner, originally from Ysguborwen farm, Betws, and his mother was from Bryn, Llanelli.  

Here are the father's family on the 1881 census at Ysguborwen, Betws;

When aged 13 William started work at Gelliceidrim drift mine, he lost a hand in an accident with explosive caps at home. This accident changed his career, he mastered Pitman's short-hand and joined the staff at the South Wales Press, Llanelli. He kept a diary in short-hand all his life, selections from which were published by J Ellis Williams in 1968 under the title Berw Bywyd.  In 1905 he joined the South Wales Daily News in Cardiff, becoming its political sub-editor and gossip writer. In 1919 he joined the Daily Sketch in London, and then onto the  Daily News where he rose to assistant-editor. He had a popular weekly column Llygad Llwchwr. Apart from a brilliant career in Fleet Street he also did social work for the Salvation Army.

He first married Margaret Davies (d.1953) of Llanelli in 1909, they had two children; and in 1958 he second married Eirene Hughes in Cardiff to where he had retired . He wrote regularly in Y Cymro under the names 'Sguborwen' and 'Llygad Llwchwr'. He died in 1962.

(Partly based on The Dictionary of Welsh Biography, 1941-70; Honourable Society of Cymmrodorion, 2001) up

Howells, Rees





Rees Howells was born on 10th Oct 1879 in Brynaman, parents Thomas and Margaret Howells.

Here are the family on the 1881 census at Waenheligen, Llandilo Fawr

He left school at 12 at began work at a local tinplate mill. He emigrated to America in 1901 and worked in tinplate mills in Pittsburgh and Connellsville where he was influenced by a local evangelist. He returned to Brynaman in 1904 and worked as a miner whilst attending evangelist conferences.

In 1910, he married Elizabeth Hannah Jones of Brynaman and went to the Presbyterian College in Carmarthen intending to enter the Congregational ministry. However, he was invited to become a missionary and both he and his wife received training in Edinburgh and London before joining the South African General Mission in 1915. They were 5 years at the Rusitu mission returning to Wales in 1920.

After a preaching tour in the USA in 1922 he decided to set up a Bible College in Wales based on the Moody Bible Institute, Chicago, to train workers for the mission fields. Although having little capital, he bought the Glynderwen estate in Swansea and opened the college in 1924. In the 1930s other other estates were bought in Lower Sketty and Derwen-fawr in Swansea, the buildings were adapted as a hospital and a boarding school for the children of serving missionaries. The Bible College expanded after WWII and branches were set up in Paris, Palestine and India.

He died in 1950 and was succeeded by his son as Director of the college.

For further reading see Rees Howells, Intercessor by N P Grubb, 1952; and, The intercession of Rees Howells by the same author in 1973.

(Partly based on The Dictionary of Welsh Biography, 1941-70; Honourable Society of Cymmrodorion, 2001)

Jones, David John Tawe up




David John Tawe Jones was born in 1885 in Rhydyfro, he was educated at Swansea Grammar School and Cardiff University College. He was organist for Welsh Presbyterian churches in Llanrwst, Cardiff, Carmarthen and Holloway Rd/London. He adjudicated and conducted extensively throughout Wales and England. He was Professor of Singing at the Guildhall School of Music and composed many choral works and songs winning prizes at various national eisteddfodau.

He suffered a great deal from the effects of being gassed and wounded in the head in WWI. Shortly before he died he completed the five act opera, The Enchantress, based on the biblical theme of 'Jezebel'. The libretto was by Dyfnallt Owen and an English translation by William Evans.

He died in 1949 at his Golders Green home and was buried at Rhydyfro. He was survived by his wife Elizabeth.

(Based on The Dictionary of Welsh Biography, 1941-70; Honourable Society of Cymmrodorion, 2001)

Jones, Gwilym Richard





Gwilym Richard Jones was born in 1874 at Siop y Bont in Brynaman, parents Richard Jones  (from Tycroes) and Elizabeth (Mathew).

Here is the family on the 1881 census at Mountain Rd, Brynaman;

He received music lessons from Joseph Parry, then choirmaster at Ebenezer Chapel in Swansea. In Brynaman at the time was a famous choir conducted by John Jones(Pen-crug) with David Vaughan Thomas, the accompanist; a rich musical background which inspired the young Gwilym Jones who was born to be a conductor of choirs.

His first choir master post was at Weast Independent Church, Manchester where he stayed 15 years. In 1910 he became the organist and choir-master at the Christian Temple, Ammanford, which post he held with great success for 40 years. He conducted the Ammanford and District Choral Society for 30 years; this choir won major prizes at the national eisteddfodau at Corwen in 1919 and Barry in 1920.  This success helped to bring the national to Ammanford  itself in 1922 at which the choir was again most successful with a performance of Bach's C Minor Mass accompanied by the London Symphony Orchestra. 1924 was another startlingly good year for the choir and at the eisteddfod at Clunderwen Gwilym Jones was awarded a silver crown  for his work as the choir's conductor.

Gwilym was also a born conductor of music festivals;  and  he helped to train many soloists and musicians in the Ammanford area as well as acting as music teacher at the county school. He was a member of the Gorsedd y Beirdd, and a skilled writer of englynion.

In 1925, he married Blodwen, daughter of Evan Jones and Jane (Edwards) of Gellimanwydd. He died in 1953 and was buried at the Gellimanwydd cemetery.

(Partly based on The Dictionary of Welsh Biography, 1941-70; Honourable Society of Cymmrodorion, 2001)

Jones, John Morgan Rev





John Morgan Jones was born in 1873 at Albert Cottage, Cwmaman, son of Joseph and Mary Jones.

Here is the family on the 1881 at Albert Cottage, Betws;

After attending the school in the Market Hall he worked  initially in the office of a local tin-works. In 1889, he began preaching at New Bethel, Garnant under the ministry of Rev J Towyn Jones, and then attended  at the Gwynfryn Academy. In 1891 he went to Brecon Memorial College and graduated with honours in 1894 at University College, Cardiff. He studied theology at Brecon and Mansfield College, Oxford, graduating BA in 1899.

In 1900, he was ordained as minister of Tabernacle English Congregational church, Aberdare, additionally becoming the Liberal member on the Town Council between 1904 and 1907.

In 1902 he married Lucy Evans of Bridgnorth, they had three children.

In 1914 he became Professor of Church and English Literature at Bala-Bangor Independent College, he had a leading role in publishing the pacifist newspaper Y Deyrnas . He succeeded Thomas Rees as Principal there in 1926, a post he held until his own death in 1946, he was buried at Glanadda Cemetery, Bangor.

He held a variety of official posts e.g chairman of the north Wales branch of the WEA; and chairman of the North Wales Congregational Union. He wrote a great number of  articles and books expressing his theological liberalism and his interest in public affairs. Some important contributions by him appeared in the Celt, The Christian Commonwealth and Geiriadur Beiblaidd.

(Partly based on The Dictionary of Welsh Biography, 1941-70; Honourable Society of Cymmrodorion, 2001)

Jones, Sir Lewis





Lewis Jones was born in 1884, son of Evan and Margaret Jones of Tegfan, College Street, Ammanford. His father, who spent his whole life in the tin-plate industry, was a devoted Congregationalist and one of the first members of Ammanford Urban District Council.

Lewis was educated at Ammanford secondary school and Reading University. He worked as a schoolmaster in Reading until 1910 when he resigned to devote himself entirely to political work. From 1914-1917 he served in the Ministry of Armaments becoming secretary of the Priority Department. He was appointed secretary of the South Wales Siemens Steel Association in 1917 which position he held for 44 years until 1961.

In 1931 he was elected as a National Liberal member of parliament for Swansea West and continued to represent that constituency until he was defeated in 1945. He served as a member of the National Health Insurance Joint Committee in 1933; became a JP for Swansea in 1934; and served as a Parliamentary Charity Commissioner from 1937-45. He published a large number of articles and papers on economic and industrial matters, he served as a vice president on the Court of Governors of Swansea University.  He was knighted in 1944 for his political and public work.

He was Welsh speaking, one of the first members of the Gwynfryn Independent chapel, Ammanford when it was founded in 1903.  In 1911 he married Alice Maud, daughter of Frederick Willis of Bath, they had two sons. They lived in Sketty, Swansea. He died in 1968 aged 84.

(Based on The Dictionary of Welsh Biography, 1941-70; Honourable Society of Cymmrodorion, 2001)

Jones, William





His bardic name was Gwilym Myrddin.

He was born in 1863 at Llwyndinawed farm, Cil-y-cwm, son of Evan and Ann Jones.

Here is the family on the 1881 census at Llwyndinawed;

His schooling was restricted by the needs of the farm. In 1886 he married Elizabeth Jones of Pumsaint and about 1898 he left his native area and settled in Betws, Ammanford. For a while he was bailiff on a local farm but later worked as a lampman at Pantyffynnon colliery. He resigned on health grounds in 1924.

He was a keen eisteddfod competitor and won the crown at the Llanelli national in 1930 with a poem on Ben Bowen.  A number of his poems were collected and published under the title Cerdd Gwilym Myrddin in 1948. He died at Betws in 1946.

(Partly based on The Dictionary of Welsh Biography, 1941-70; Honourable Society of Cymmrodorion, 2001)

Mardy-Jones, Thomas Isaac





Thomas Isaac Jones was born in 1879 in Brynaman, son of Thomas Isaac and Gwen Jones.

This may well be the family on the 1881 census, although the mother's name differs.

Rhosamman, Llangadog parish

His father and both his grandfathers were killed in coal-mining accidents. He went to the Ferndale board school and began working at a local mine when 12 years of age, his wages had to support a family of six.

He studied political and economic history Ruskin College, Oxford for 2 years and after returning to South Wales acted a a missionary for the College and managed to persuade the SWMF to establish 10 scholarships so that working miners could follow college courses. He also lectured on behalf of the ILP in south Wales.

He was promoted to the position of checkweighman in 1907, and suffered an eye accident the following year. In 1909 he was appointed a parliamentary agent to the South Wales Miners Federation [SWMF]. He was elected a Labour member of parliament in 1922 for the Pontypridd division, and continued to do so until 1931, he lived in Pontypridd. In 1931 he resigned as an MP following accusations of allowing his wife to use his MP's railway travel voucher. He failed in his attempt to return to parliament as an independent Labour candidate later the same year.

He attended a number of study courses in India, the Middle East and South Africa between 1928 and 1946, he served in two war time (WWII) official posts. He became a popular public lecturer on foreign affairs specialising in India and the Middle East. He was an official lecturer to the National Coal Board on the economics of the industry. He published several volumes on the work of local government and ways of reforming the rating system.

In 1911, he married Margaret Mordecai of Cowbridge, they had two daughters. He died in 1970 at Harold Wood Hospital, Essex, aged 90.

(Partly based on The Dictionary of Welsh Biography, 1941-70; Honourable Society of Cymmrodorion, 2001)

Morgan, John Jenkyn





John Jenkyn Morgan was born in 1875 at Bodist Isaf, Glanaman, son of Jenkin and Angharad Morgan.

Here is the family on the 1881 census at Pontaman Cottage, Llandilo fawr;

He was educated at Brynlloi British school, Glanaman, began work at Mynydd pit, Cwmaman at the age of 12. Then at the Raven tinplate works , Glanaman until he retired in 1930.

In 1901, he married Harriet, daughter of Thomas and Sarah Jones, Brynlloi shop, Glanaman. She died at a service in Bryn Seion chapel, Glanaman in 1956, she was a sister to the ministers W Glasnant Jones, Dafydd G Jones and E Aman Jones. They had four children.

He was a cultured man and became a keen follower of eisteddfodau winning many prizes, mainly for essays and handbooks of local history. He became a member of the Gorsedd of Bards at Llanelli in 1895, adopting the name Glanberach. He gained prizes at the national eisteddfodau at Ammanford (1922), Swansea (1926), Holyhead (1927), Denbigh (1939), Llanrwst (1951), and Pwllheli (1955). He broadcast frequently and wrote articles on local history to Welsh periodicals. He published Cofiant John Foulkes Williams in 1906, and Hanner canrif o hanes Bryn Seion, Glanaman, 1907-1957 in 1957.

He died in Brynlloi, Glanaman in 1961 and was buried in Hen Fethel Cemetery.

(Partly based on The Dictionary of Welsh Biography, 1941-70; Honourable Society of Cymmrodorion, 2001)

Tree, Ronald James





Ronald James Tree was born in 1914 in Garnant, son of Frederick George and Susan Tree.

He was educated at the church school, Garnant, Dyffryn Aman county school and University College, Swansea where he gained a 1st class honours degree in Philsophy in 1937, and an MA in 1939. He obtained further degree honours at New College, Oxford. He attended St Michael's College, Llandaff in 1939-40.

He was ordained deacon in 1940, served as curate of Cwmaman from 1940-44, being ordained priest in 1941. he was curate of St Michael's, Aberystwyth from 1944-46. In 1946 he was appointed lecturer in Philosophy at St David's College, Lampeter, and became a professor in 1950. He was appointed  Warden and Headmaster of Llandovery College in 1957 and canon of Mathry in St David's Cathedral in 1961. He obtained the living of St Mary's, Haverfordwest in 1966 and was appointed Archdeacon of St David's in 1968. He published a number of articles on philosophical and historical subjects.

In 1944 he married Ceridwen, daughter of G E Thomas of Gwauncaegurwen, they ahd 2 children.  He died in 1970 and was buried at St David's.

(Based on The Dictionary of Welsh Biography, 1941-70; Honourable Society of Cymmrodorion, 2001)

Walters, David  Rev





David Walters was born in 1874, son of John and Ann (nee Dyer) Walters of Ty'n-y-coed, Betws. His father was a blacksmith, when David was aged 5 the family moved to Glais, Clydach.

Here is the family on the 1881 census at Cefn y Garth, Llansamlet Higher;

He went to the local board school and became a pupil teacher there. The family were members at Seion, Glais and his mother made sure he was a regular attender. Another influence in his life was his uncle Job Richards ( Eilab) who had been a schoolmaster at the Llanelli copper works school and became the first minister of Moriah, Ty-croes.

He attended Gwynfryn School for 6 months, then Memorial College, Brecon followed by University College, Cardiff where he obtained a 1st class degree in Hebrew and Greek. He then took an honours course in Welsh.

He was ordained at Salem (Congregational), Llandovery (1900-1905 ?), then was minister of Market Square, English church, Merthyr Tydfil from 1905-10. He was a representative of the Bible Society from 1910-15 and travelled extensively in Europe. In 1915 he accepted a call to the church in Henrietta St, Swansea where he remained until 1926. His next pastorate was Christ Church, Oswestry and in 1931 moved on to the Tabernacl Welsh church in Belmont Rd, Liverpool. He was awarded the MA degree of the University of Liverpool in 1933.

He was a member of the Gorsedd of Bards, David Eurof Walters had for a time been a clerk with the Merthyr-Brecon Railway Co before being apprenticed in Morriston as a jeweller and goldsmith (the explanation for his bardic name). He won six eisteddford chairs and many prizes at the national eisteddfodau. He was chairman of the Union of Welsh Independents in 1940-41.

He married Catherine Eleanor, daughter of William Thomas, minister of Gwynfe, and Mary; they had 3 children.

He died in Liverpool in 1942 and was cremated at Liverpool Crematorium.

(Partly based on The Dictionary of Welsh Biography, 1941-70; Honourable Society of Cymmrodorion, 2001)

Owen, William





William Owen was born in 1841 in Aber Cenfi, Llandybie, son of William and Sarah Owen. The family originated from Montgomeryshire, the father was a weaver in Cil-y-cwm, Llanwrda and Llandovery before moving to a woollen factory in Cwmllwchwr in 1936. According to Watcyn Wyn, William Owen was the great grandson of John Owen (Machynlleth) author of the poem Troedigaeth Atheos.

He was apprenticed to a carpenter in Trap but went back to his father and the woollen mill after 3 years. Both his parents were dead by 1877 and William Owen was a tramp for the rest of his life. He spent his summers in the spas of Llanwrtyd and Llandrindod, returning to Brynaman, Llanelli and Swansea for the winters.

I have failed to find him on the 1881 census in Wales, perhaps not that surprising in view of his nomadic life.

He sold the products of his muse on these annual pilgrimages and kept the printers of Aberdare, Ystalyfera, Ammanford and Llandeilo busy for about 30 years. Between 1879 and 1902 he published some 18 pamphlets  containing material such as temperence debates, ballads and tracts but made his name primarily as an elegist.

He deserves recognition as one of the last of his kind to make a living by selling his poems and ballads. His nom de plumes were Gwilym Meudwy or Gwilym Glan Llwchwr.

He died in Ammanford in 1902 and was buried in the family plot at Llandybie parish church.

(Based on The Dictionary of Welsh Biography, 1941-70; Honourable Society of Cymmrodorion, 2001)

Rees, Bowen





Bowen Rees was born in 1857 at the Ivy Bush Inn, Llandybie, son of Jacob Rees, stonemason, and Margaret, daughter of the publican Richard Bowen. The family moved to Ystalyfera and Bowen Rees began work as a smithy at the age of 9.

On the 1881 census Bowen Rees is shown lodging as a theological student in Merioneth;

26 Mount Street, Llanycil, Merioneth

His parents are shown here in Graig;

3 Nr Tinmans, Llanguick

After hearing an address by Thomas Morgan Thomas (Thomas of Africa) he set his heart on becoming a missionary himself.  He attended Bala College in 1880-84 ; was ordained at Pan-teg Congregational chapel, Ystalyfera in 1884 and sent by the London Missionary Society to Lake Tanganyika. He was subsequently transferred to Ndebele-land and settled at Inyathi in 1888. From 1892 to 1918 he and his wife were the only missionaries there. She was Susanna Wesley (nee Davies), the soprano 'Llinos Morgannwg', the daughter of an ironworker, they had married in 1890 in Cape Town and  had 7 children but 3 died young . She too was from Ystalyfera and had been a preacher on a Methodist circuit since she was 22 years old, she died in 1933. Bowen Rees tried to protect the Ndebele from the rapacity of the British South Africa Co. and gave evidence in a legal case in 1918 which decided that the Co had no right to the land of the Ndebele.

In 1918 he was a tutor at a preachers' training college in South Africa, and retired to Swansea in 1922. He died there in 1922 and was buried at Oystermouth.

(Partly based on The Dictionary of Welsh Biography, 1941-70; Honourable Society of Cymmrodorion, 2001)

Rees, Ebenezer





Ebenezer Rees was born in Sirhowy, Monmouthshire in 1848. He was orphaned and brought up by relatives of his mother--- David Clee and his wife in Cwmtwrch.

He had little education and started work at a local colliery aged 7, leaving Cwmtwrch when  aged 18 to work in coal mines in Aberdare and Mountain Ash. He came back to the Ystalyfera area in 1868 when he married Jane (who died in 1916), daughter of Dafydd and Rachel James.

Ebenezer was prominent in the growing labour movements at this time and was dismissed and persecuted for this. He fled to Carbondale in Pennsylvania in 1869. He came back to Wales in 1872 and kept a bookshop until 1877 when he opened a printing works at Ystalyfera.

Here is the family on the 1881 census at 7 Wern, Llanguick;

He established a new weekly newspaper, Y Gwladwr Cymreig in 1885 but it had disappeared by the end of the same year.  He still had a great interest in social issues and was prominent in the labour movement in the Swansea valley at the turn of the century. He was friendly with socialist leaders of the time, such as Kier Hardie, R J Derfel and John Hodge. In his office was printed and published  a social issues periodical Cwrs y Byd from 1991-95. He also published other periodicals, Yr Oes Newydd (1886), the Cenhadwr (1894-97), and also printed the Celt for a while.

Perhaps his most important contribution was to establish the  Llais Llafur (later the South Wales Voice) in 1898 as a weekly newspaper to serve the industrial areas of West Glamorgan and East Carmarthenshire. This paper was a vehicle for promoting the Labour movement in these districts. He also published scores of ballads and pamphlets containing the works of minor poets and authors in the Swansea and Aman valleys.

He died at his home in Ystalyfera in 1908 and was buried at Beulah, Cwmtwrch.

(Partly based on The Dictionary of Welsh Biography, 1941-70; Honourable Society of Cymmrodorion, 2001)

Thomas, Ifor





Ifor Thomas was born in 1877 at Commercial Place, Glanaman, son of Dafydd Thomas ( Trumor) and his wife Margaret. His father was a miner at Gelliceidrim colliery, a poet, local historian, and regular contributor to Welsh language newspapers.

Here is the family on the 1881 census at Commercial Place, Betws;

Ifor was educated at the Board school in Glanaman, where he was also a pupil teacher, and at the University College of Wales, Aberystwyth where he graduated B.Sc. He taught briefly at Wellington College and Brynmawr secondary school before going to the University of Marburg in Germany to study geology and palaeontology. He graduated with a Ph.D in 1905 when he was appointed to the staff of the Geological Survey in London in 1905. He gained the degree of D.Sc from the University of Wales in 1911.

When his health deteriorated in 1912 he returned to Wales and was appointed as one of His Majesty's Inspectors of schools based in Swansea. He put great emphasis on the teaching of Welsh in schools at a time when it wasn't fashionable. He wrote many scholarly articles for The Geological Magazine and also contributed to Seren Gomer and Y Genhinen. He wrote several specialist geological books .

He returned to Glanaman in 1918 where he died in that same year and was buried at Bethesda Baptist church, Glanaman. he was unmarried.

(Partly based on The Dictionary of Welsh Biography, 1941-70; Honourable Society of Cymmrodorion, 2001)

Bartlett, Daniel (ap Grenig)





Daniel Bartlett was born 6 October 1888 at Penyrheol, Cwmaman, Bettws. His parents were Thomas Harris Bartlett (1856) and Annie Emily Harding (1862) who were married in 1877 at the Parish church of Ystradyfodwg in the Rhondda. Thomas was a miner and his father,Thomas, an accountant. The latter was the son of Edward Bartlett, boatsitter on the Preventive Water Guard at Porteynon and later Head of the Coast Guard based in Llanelly. Annie Emily was the daughter of John Harding a hitcher from Bath, and Georgina Perryman.

Daniel was married in 1918 at Llanddeilo Fawr to Anne Jane Jenkins. He was a coalminer underground at the Steer Pit in Tairgwaith for most of his working life.They had two children .

He had the bardic name of Ap Grenig, his poems were published in the book " Pen y Mynedd" (On Top of the Mountain). He also wrote the lyrics of a hymn " Mae'r Plant yn Hoffi Canu" . The music was written by his sister in law Katie Jenkins.  Daniel was to win 14 Bardic chairs and 2 Bardic crowns at various eisteddfodau. He was also a contributor to the Welsh columns of the " Tivy Side Advertiser"

Daniel suffered a long illness and died on the 20 November 1941 in his 50s from pneumoconiosis. He was buried in Llandyfriog Churchyard near Newcastle Emlyn. He was a member of the Baptist Church at Gwauncaegurwen, and his popularity was testified by the large number of people that came a long distance to pay their last tribute to a worthy friend.

(Contributed by Robert Bartlett, April 2002)

Bevan, Llywelyn up




He was born at Cwmllynfell in 1691, he was the first 'son of the church' to become its minister, the second being William Evans.

For several years he assisted Lewis Davies at the  Cwmllynfell Independent chapel . In 1697 he was elected a teaching elder there, and later in the same year he was ordained minister at both Cwmllynfell and Gellionen chapels.

Here are some quotes from Hanes Eglwys Cwmllynfell, the original source is Hen Lyfr Eglwys, Mynydd Bach;

"Our dear brother Llywelyn Bevan, of Cwmllynfell, succeeded him (Richard Cradock) as teaching elder in ye said congregation until his dismission to Mr Penry's Church on ye 14 of January, 1700/01" .

"Our dear Brother Llywelyn Bevan was soon after chosen teaching elder. He was duly elected in order to be sett apart for ye work of ye ministry at Kilyfwnwr upon the 28th day of 7ber, 1697 "

"And our brother Llywelyn Bevan was ordained at ye new house Gellionen by the Imposition of ye hands of Mr Prutherch, Mr Dd Penry, Mr Roger Williams, and Lewis Davies. In ye presence of other minists, as Mr Owen Davies, Mr D Jones, Mr John James, Mr R Price, upon ye 17 of 9ber, 1697."

"And upon the ernest request of Mr Penry and his congregation meeting at Cwmllynfell and Gellionen this church meeting at Tirdonkin has dismissed him of his relations to us and resigned him over unto them ye 14th day of January, 1700/1. Wittness the paper in my custody. "

He built up a strong Independent church at Cwmllynfell; he was a moderate Calvinist, both evangelical in his preaching and democratic in his views on the nature and government of the church.

Tradition has it that Llywelyn Bevan lived at Ystradown, this is supported by the following inscription on his wife's grave at Fforchegel;

"Here lies the body of Mary John, the wife of Llywelyn Bevan, of Ystrad Owen, minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, who departed this life on the 23rd day of the eleventh month , 1724. Aged 63 "

He died somewhere between August 1722 , when he made his will, and February 1723 when it was proved.

His will mentions his sons Evan Lewelin and David Lewelin (note the patronymics) , and daughters Marget (wife of William John) and Mary. The witnesses were John Rithard and William Thomas, they valued his estate at 8.13s.4d, there is a copy of the will and inventory in the book ( Hanes Eglwys Cwmllynfell). It is interesting that the will doesn't mention his wife who according to her grave stone died after him, or is one of the dates wrong ?

(Partly based on The Dictionary of Welsh Biography, Down to 1940; Honourable Society of Cymmrodorion; 1959, otherwise on Hanes Eglwys Cwmllynfell, by The Reverends J Dyfnallt Owen M.A , J D Jones and Ben Davies; 1935)

Evans, Rhys





He was born in 1835 at a farmhouse at Cross Inn, a tailor by trade.

He received his first music lessons from one William Penry and when 17 went to Swansea where he joined a music class. He then moved to Cwmavon ,and then Cardiff where he became a member of choirs. After 2 years in London he returned to Ammanford where he formed a choir which became well known.

He married in 1860 and moved to Aberdare where he set up as a clothier. He joined Siloa Congregational chapel and became precentor there. He formed a chapel choir which won prizes at several eisteddfodau.  He played a prominent part in forming 'Cor Caradog', became conductor of the United Aberdare Choir, and spent the latter part of his life organising performances of the large works of the masters with professional  soloists and the Cyfarthfa Orchestra.

He retired in 1895 and was succeeded by his son William John Evans, also a skilled musician. His grandson, Ifor Leslie Evans, was principal of University College, Aberystwyth from 1931 until his death.

Rhys Evans died in 1917.

( Based on The Dictionary of Welsh Biography, Down to 1940; Honourable Society of Cymmrodorion; 1959)

Evans, William





He was born at Ystradgynlais in 1716, became a member of Cwmllynfell Independent chapel at age 18.

At the request of the Cwmllynfell congregation he was licensed to preach in 1751.  He was minister of Cwm Mawr and Rhyd-y-maerdy in Llanrhidian parish, Gower, from 1754. Under his ministry Rhyd-y-maerdy became an important centre of the Independent church in Wales.  He was one of the 18 prominent ministers who signed A Vindication of the Conduct of the Associated Ministers in Wales published in 1771.

He was the minister of his mother-church at Cwmllynfell from 1767-1770, (the second ' son of the church' to be so after Llywelyn Bevan), coming there after the great struggle between Arminianism and Calvinism, and the split between Cwmllynfell and Gellionen. His theology was that of a moderate Calvinist, his preaching that of an evangelical.

He was married twice, as a result of the second becoming a well to do farmer in Llangiwg parish.

He died in 1770, buried in Llangiwg churchyard.

In his will ( Hanes Eglwys Cwmllynfell) it is again interesting to see patronymics at work in that he refers to himself as William Evan and his wife Angharad as Yngarad Evan but his sons are named as Daniell William, Samuel Williams, Ezeciell William and Evan William.

The inventory of his estate (with original spelling) is as below (.s.d);

PS. I think that the "scatered ships " may well be sheep!

(Partly based on The Dictionary of Welsh Biography, Down to 1940; Honourable Society of Cymmrodorion; 1959, otherwise on Hanes Eglwys Cwmllynfell, by The Reverends J Dyfnallt Owen M.A , J D Jones and Ben Davies; 1935)

Griffiths, William





Born at Cwmllynfell in 1859, educated at Gwynfryn School and Carmarthen Presbyterian College, followed by Yale in the USA where he graduated BD and PhD in 1891/2.

In his early days he was an Independent but on his return to Wales from the USA became an Unitarian. He was a missionary in North Wales, minister at Pontypridd from 1893-1900, and later on minister at several Unitarian chapels in England.

He was reputed to be a good Hebraist and had made an intensive study of the Psalms. He edited various publications, and published a number of pamphlets and sermons in Welsh and English.

He married Florence Davies of Trowbridge in 1897 and they had several children.

He died in 1940 at Clydach.

( Based on The Dictionary of Welsh Biography, Down to 1940; Honourable Society of Cymmrodorion; 1959)

Lewis, David William





Born in 1845 at Brynamman, started work in a coal mine aged 9.

In 1870 he went to Bristol to be examined in the tonic-solfa and gained all certificates that were possible and qualified FTSC---the first in Wales to do so.

This is probably him and his family on the 1881 census, right initials, age, and area (Neuadd/Garnant/Lower Brynamman);

He conducted music classes in many parts of Carmarthenshire, composed many anthems and hymn tunes, and pieces for children. He edited various publications and published some himself. He was much in demand as adjudicator and conductor at hymn singing festivals.

He was made a JP for Carmarthenshire in 1919.

He died in 1920 and was buried at Gibea chapel cemetery, Brynamman.

( Partly based on The Dictionary of Welsh Biography, Down to 1940; Honourable Society of Cymmrodorion; 1959)

Thomas, William





Born  in 1832 at Troedrhiwfelen, Llangiwg, he had few educational facilities in his youth, his parents were members at Cwmllynfell Independent chapel. He was received into the chapel at the early age of 8. When he was young he kept a singing school on the Gwrhyd, he started to preach in 1848 at Cwmllynfell under Rhys Pryse.

He was at Brecon College in 1852-55 and ordained minister of Soar and Bethel, Whitland in 1855. The cause prospered, Soar became too small and Tabernacle was built.

He won a name for himself as a leader in temperance, educational, political, and religious movements; he was a staunch Liberal. Besides contributions to newspapers and periodicals he wrote several books including a biography in 1859 of Rhys Pryse of Cwmllynfell.

This is him aged 19 with his parents etc on the 1851 census;


And here he is with his wife on the 1881 census;

He was chairman of the Union of Welsh Independents in 1890.

He retired in 1908 and died in 1911.

( Partly based on The Dictionary of Welsh Biography, Down to 1940; Honourable Society of Cymmrodorion; 1959)

Williams, Richard





Bardic name Gwydderig.

Born in 1842, the son of Daniel Richard Williams, and Mary, a farmer's daughter. He was brought up at Bryn Hafod, Brynamman. His father died when he was a boy and he had to go to work in a coal mine at a young age.

He began to contribute poems to Y Gwladgarwr  when William Williams was editor of the poetry column of that journal.

When a depression came to Brynamman and the surrounding districts, he went to work in Pennsylvania, USA; on his return he continued to write poems, particularly englynion, and won prizes at national and other eisteddfodau becoming well known as 'Bardd yr englyn' throughout much of Wales.

He died in 1917 and was buried in the burial ground attached to Gibea chapel in Brynamman.

( Based on The Dictionary of Welsh Biography, Down to 1940; Honourable Society of Cymmrodorion; 1959)

Details of extant records on Archives Network Wales
"Papers of Gwydderig, comprising his poetry and related material including eisteddfod adjudications, press cuttings, transcripts of his works and correspondence, 1877-1917; together with poetry by other poets including William Williams ('Myfyr Wyn', 1849-1900), and a notebook of his brother Benjamin Williams"

Davies, Ryan.





Born Thomas Ryan Davies in 1937 at the home of his grandmother, Rachel Roberts  --- Mountain View, Glanaman. His parents were William and Nans Davies. The latter ran a children's and old people's homes. 

When Ryan was aged 10 the family moved to Llanfyllin where Ryan competed in eisteddfodau, after leaving school he did  his national service in the RAF followed by a teacher training course at Bangor Normal College and another at the Central School of Speech and Drama. He taught at a school in Croydon for several years in the 1960s whilst continuing to perform in the National Eisteddfod. He started appearing in Welsh language programmes with the BBC before deciding to move full time into the world of professional entertainment.

He married his childhood sweetheart, Irene Williams, in 1961.

His professional career is so well documented that I see little need to repeat much of it here.
Suffice to say that apart from his brilliant solo performances as an actor, singer, harpist, comedian, mimic, clown etc etc Ryan Davies was one half of the talented duo, Ryan a Ronnie, who became such firm  favourites with Welsh audiences.

He died tragically in 1977 in the USA at the young age of 40 following an asthma attack whilst on a trip with his family to visit an old friend.
He was buried at Hen Bethel cemetery.

Lewis Haydn, OBE, JP.





Haydn Lewis was born in Brynamman, one of the twelve children of Harry and Ann Lewis.

When he was aged four the family moved to a country inn and farm known as 'Glan y Quay' in Llandyfan, and then a few years later moving to Derwydd. Haydn's nickname throughout his life was 'Haydn Cei' after the above farm.

He started work at Ammanford Colliery when he was thirteen. He served with the Royal Artillery in WWI  seeing action in France and Belgium. After the war he returned to Ammanford Colliery and was elected  lodge chairman which position he held for thirteen years. In 1930 he was elected as a local councillor for Ammanford UDC which position he served in for 39 years including three stints as chairman of the council. He was elected a County Councillor for Carmarthenshire in 1945, became an alderman in 1961 and also chair of Carmarthenshire County Council in this period.

He held other voluntary positions including chair of the Joint Counties Schools for Handicapped Children, member of the Police Authority, and the South Wales Electricity Consultative Committee. He was granted honorary membership of the Institute of Municipal Treasurers and Accountants.

He became a Justice of the Peace in 1954 and was awarded the O.B.E for his services to the community. In 1980, the Dinfwr Borough Council nominated the name of a street on the new Gwynfryn Estate, Tirydail as 'Heol Haydn' in his honour.

He died in 1972.

(This information contributed by Suzanne Kelly of New South Wales, Australia, June 2003)

Jones, Edgar





This extract below is from a Western Mail newspaper clipping, undated, it has a photograph.

Welshman gets top I.M.F. post

"A Welshman left Newport yesterday to take up a post as the first director of the International Monetary Fund at their new offices at Geneva.

He is Mr Edgar Jones, aged 56, a native of Gwaun-cae-gurwen, who left Tai'r Gwaith Junior School in the Amman Valley at the age of 14 to work in the mines.

But he continued studying at night school and matriculated to London University where he won a miners' welfare scholarship to University College of Wales, Aberystwyth. He graduated with first class honours in economics, won a research fellowship, and was also a Gladstone Prizeman.

After a year as lecturer in economics at Swansea University College, he was appointed to the Treasury as research assistant to Lord Keynes and Sir Dennis Roberts. Later he became chief Treasury statistician.

At the end of World War II Mr Jones, married with two daughters living in America, was posted to the British Embassy at Washington as financial counsellor and British alternate director on the board of the World Bank.

He returned to the Treasury in 1950 as assistant secretary working in the central economic planning staff and the overseas finance division.

He joined the International Monetary Fund in 1953 and for a number of years was deputy director of the exchange and trade relations department. "

From a family member I have also gleaned the fact that Edgar's father was Ben Jones, and his mother Mary Ann Thomas from Llanddeusant; places called Cwrwain and Cwmllechach feature in the Llanddeusant family history.

Morgan, John





John Morgan was born in about 1870, became a coalminer and also wrote The History of Pontardawe in 1911 and Old Characters of Gellinudd   in 1908; he used the bardic name of Hirfryn which is also the name of the house he lived in at Edward Street, Alltwen.

His parents were Evan Morgan, coal miner, and Gwenllian (Hicks) - her father John Hicks was also my own gg grandfather. Evan's father was a Thomas Morgan, also a coalminer.
Evan was a widower when marrying Gwellian Hicks in 1867 and some of the children on 1881 census predate that marriage.
Gwenllian's mother was Ann, of the Jones family of Blaenant uchaf farm, Cadoxton parish.

On the 1881 census  the family was at Rhos, Cilybebyll ...... Evan Morgan 45, coalminer,wife Gwenllian 41, children Thomas 21, miner, Philip 15, Ann 13, John 11, David 9, Evan 7, Richard 5, Alice 3,Mary 4m.
On the 1891 Census Gwenllian is widowed but still at Rhos ...... Morgan, Gwenllian widow 51, Ann 23, John 21 coalminer, David 19 tinman, Evan 17 blacksmith's striker, Richard 14,  Alice 13.

The Hicks and especially the Jones families mentioned above are to be found in great numbers in the two books that John Morgan wrote.

In the introduction to the Pontardawe book John refers to the fact that he wrote the history for a competition ' in the Public Hall' and that the prize hardly covered the cost of the paper!  There were another four essays submitted and according to the adjudication of the Rev D G Jones, "this treatise stood on its own like a Saul", and he exhorted the author to have it printed as a booklet.

I cannot resist including the remainder of his remarks verbatim, his sense of humour and take it or leave approach to the job in hand shines through !

"The treatise has more than trebled since then, and I hope that it has trebled in its worth. The adjudicator said at the time that it was worth at least three guineas.

I wish to thank everyone who assisted me in getting the work together, by lending books and searching old manuscripts regarding the facts in connection with various events. Their names would take too much room,and would be a rather dry chapter.

It will probably go through the hands of many disparaging critics who will leave their scratches upon it --- scratching according to their own opinions and knowledge. I accept this, as long as they do not draw blood. I took my own way, and used my own opinion, without imitating anyone.

As the sales circulation is small, I trust that everyone who buy the book will teach those who prefer to borrow than buy --- to buy one for themselves.

An old proverb states, "In every labour there is profit". The local historian has very little to "gain by his labours."

So, I release it to the world, to be accepted by some, and rejected by others.

Humbly yours,

J . E . Morgan . September 5th 1911."


The general introduction to the book can be seen on Pontardawe

The Preface to his other book Old Characters of Gellinudd  can be seen on Gellinudd

See the Picture Gallery ( Pontardawe 12) for a photograph of him from the cover of the book

HOWELL, ROGER  (BARAN) 1774-1843






Compiled from her ongoing research by Rina Callingham

Family history:

Roger Howell was the 2nd son of his parents, John Howell Roger and Rebecca Jones.  The register of christenings at Gellionen chapel - where his parents were members at the time of his birth - shows that prior to his own birth in March 1774, another Roger, described as the first son of John Howell Roger was born in March 1773 and baptised on 16th March that year.  Roger's own entry in the register states that he was born on 3rd March 1774 and baptised, by the minister, Josiah Rees, soon afterwards on 8th March.

According to Ivor Griffiths' translation of J.E. Morgan's "History of Pontardawe", written in 1911,

" ...the Howells family have dwelt in Nantymoel for over six hundred years."

Evidence of the family's long tenure comes from Gabriel Powell's Survey of the Lordship of Gower in 1764, which records John William Rhydderch and his son-in-law, Howell Roger as the freeholders of "Blaen Nant Mole Ycha".  The earlier Cromwellian survey of Gower in 1656 lists an Isaac Roger as the freeholder in residence at "Nantmole".

From this evidence of his family's long standing connection to Nantmoel Uchaf farm on the Baran Mountain at Rhyndwyclydach; it seems reasonable to suppose that Roger was born at or near there.  However, a reference in the book, 'Hanes Eglwysi Annibynol II" by Thomas Rees and John Thomas, published in 1872, indicates he was actually born at nearby Pwllfa Watkin farm.

The family also had a long association with the dwelling, Ty'n y berth, close to Nantmoel and their tenancy here can be traced back to at least the time of Powell's survey in 1767 when John William Rhydderch is recorded as the occupant.  Nearly 10 years later, in the period 1775-6, a Welsh circulating school was apparently briefly based there.  Ty'n y Berth seems to have been used on occasion as the home of either the prospective heir of Nantmoel or the retired owner.  John William Rhydderch and Howell Roger were respectively Roger Howell's great-grandfather and grandfather.

Although they are buried in the graveyard at Gellionen chapel, a memorial to both these men is fixed to the external south wall of Baran Chapel.  It is inscribed:

A Cenotaph in remembrance of JOHN WILLIAM
born, lived and died at
Nantmole, Feb. 14th 1784 at
the age of 100 years.  And of HOWELL ROGER,
son in law to the above,
who died April 20 1801
at the age of 84 years,
whose bodies lie interred at Gellionen.
Mae cofio y rhai cyfiawn
yn fendigedig fyth ond enw y drygionus
a bydra yn ein plot
am hynny byddwn ddiwyd
Tra'r bywyd yn parhai
i mofyn am yr alwad
Mae angau'r agoshau

A suspicion that Roger's grandfather, Howell Roger, was himself, the son of an earlier Rev. Roger Howell who was minister of Gellionen chapel 1712-1742/3, is apparently justified by J.E. Morgan in his previously mentioned book:

"...Roger Howells was the grandfather of Roger Howells, Beckington and great-grandfather
to Roger Howells, minister and schoolmaster in the Baran."

Further confirmation comes from a reference to Roger in " Hanes Eglwysi Annibynol II":

"Yr oedd ei dad, Mr. John Howell, yn wyr i Mr. Roger Howell, gynt gweinidog y Gellionen a Chwmllynfel......"

(His father, Mr. John Howell, was a grandson of Mr. Roger Howell, former minister of Gellionen and Cwmllynfell)

and from a reference by Rees and Thomas to the elder Rev. Roger Howell:

"Gorwyr iddo ef oedd y diweddar Mr. Roger Howell, Baran."

(A great grandson of his was the late Mr. Roger Howell, Baran.)

This original Roger Howell was a blacksmith, known for his love of reading and profound knowledge of the Scriptures.  He served as a Non-conformist minister in the chapels of Cwmllynfell and Gellionen and was a contemporary of ministers, Llewelyn Bevan and Joseph Simons.  He was said by Dr. D Elwyn Hughes, in his history of Capel Gellionen, to have "troubled the theological waters" at both chapels, paving the way for the more liberal ministry at Gellionen of the Arminian minister, Josiah Rees.  This is acknowledged in Volume IV of "Glamorgan County History", edited by Glanmor Williams, which describes how Arminian beliefs reached Gellionnen towards the end of Roger Howell's ministry there.  This volume also makes reference to a list of churches in 1715, compiled by Dr John Evans, which records that alongside Llewelyn Bevan and John Davies, Roger Howell also ministered at Gwynfe in Carmarthenshire where the average attendance was 600.  Little else is now known about his life.  He died in 1742 and is possibly buried at Llangiwg chapel.


The younger Roger Howell's parents, John and Rebecca were married on 29th November 1771 at Baglan parish church.  There is no record of Rebecca's birth in the parish records at Baglan, suggesting her parents were also Non-Conformists.  Baglan was probably the nearest Anglican church to Rebecca's home chapel or meeting house.  From the inscription on her grave at Baran Chapel, Rebecca was born about 1753 and died 24th March 1828, aged 75 years, outliving her husband by 19 years.  There is, so far, no record of her having left a will.  Roger's father, John Howell Roger - named in the patronymic style of the day - was born about 1743, probably at or near Nantmoel.  He was one of at least 5 sons and 3 daughters of Howel Roger.  From the 1767 list of members of Gellionnen chapel, Howel Roger's wife was named as Margaret and the IGI for Llangyfelach records a marriage between a Margaret John and Howel Roger on 24th April 1741.  This seems appropriate for John Howell Roger's birth in 1743.  It is not clear however, whether it is Margaret who was the daughter of John William Rhydderch (the styling of her name suggests it is possible) or Mary, who (as Howel's will describes) was his wife at the time of his death.  One possibility is that Margaret and Mary were sisters.

In his father's will, John was bequeathed:

"...all the sheep I shall die in possession of on the Tenement of Nantmole (sic), on condition
that he shall pay yearly to Mary my beloved wife the sum of five shillings and also five
shillings to my son William"

The will does not directly mention John's inheritance of Nantmoel Uchaf itself, but this was perhaps implicitly determined by his status as the oldest son and may earlier, have formed part of his marriage contract with Rebecca.  At the time of the annual Land Tax assessment in 1801, the occupier of Nantmole usha (sic) was recorded as the newly widowed, Mary Roger, whilst the new proprietor was shown to be John Howell (aka John Howell Roger).  The following year's record shows that John had now taken up residence at Nantmole usha - moving from Ty'n y Berth which was in turn occupied by his son, Roger Howell.  John and Rebecca were buried at Baran alongside John's younger (? unmarried and possibly infirm) brother, William.  Their memorial bears the following inscription:

memory of JOHN
departed this life the
8th day of February
1809 aged 66 years
Also of REBECCA the wife of
John Howell and Mother of
Roger Howell
Minister at
this place who died March
24th 1828 aged 75
been afflicted for many
years died May 14th 1829 aged 84 years
"Canys mufi a wn fod fy mhrynwr
un fyw, ac y saif yn y diwedd ar y

Religious affiliation:

Although previously members of Gellionnen Chapel, the Howell family were part of a body of Trinitarian Independents who were unhappy to follow the theological trend towards Unitarianism that their minister, Josiah Rees was encouraging.  These members broke away from the chapel and began to meet instead at local farms such as Llwyn Ifan, just west of Nantmoel Uchaf and later Nantmoel Uchaf itself.  Eventually, these farms could not accommodate the growing numbers of like-minded members and Roger's father, John Howell leased them some land at Nantmoel (at 5/- annually) to build a new chapel.  This chapel, named Y Baran, was completed in 1805 and on March 14th that year, Roger Howell was ordained as its first minister.  

From his memorial biography in 'Hanes Eglwysi Annibynol' and an entry in 'Oriel Coleg Presbyteraidd Caerfyrddin 1796-1899' by Evan Pan Jones, it is now clear that Roger studied for the ministry at the Presbyterian College at Carmarthen.  According to its authors, the details of the memorial biography are based on a letter from Roger's son, John published in the Welsh language Congregationalist magazine, 'Y Diwygiwr' in 1845. Carmarthen College is where Gellionnen's minister, Josiah Rees and many contemporary Non Conformist ministers also received their theological instruction.  Roger attended the College from 1796-1800 after having first studied historical linguistics at a school in Swansea under a Mr. Rees.


There is much anecdotal evidence that Roger established a school of theological study at Nantmoel.  At present, there are no clear dates as to when this school was in existence - possibly it was after his father's death in 1809 when Roger took possession of Nantmoel.  Land Tax records show that Roger Howell took up residence at Nantmoel from 1808 - apparently just prior to his father's death - as John was still named as the proprietor.  By the following year, Roger (described on this record as Reverend) was the owner proprietor.  In his discussion of how Baran came to be named, Islwyn Davies has described how more concrete evidence of this school is demonstrated in the biographical records of the ministers who received instruction there.  One of these was Roger's future son-in-law, Daniel Evans of Gwrhyd Isaf, who later ministered at several chapels in Carmarthenshire.  

Other pupil ministers recorded in "Hanes Eglwysi Annibynol" include Richard Jones, Talgarth; Evan Watkins Llangadog; William Williams Hirwaun, Herbert Herbert, Newton Nottage; Daniel Griffiths, Neath and at least 5 ministers who emigrated to America, named as:  Edwards, Powell, John Jones, William Hopkins and Lewis Williams.  In Evan Watkins' obituary published in the 'Congregational Yearbook of 1880' it states:

"His training for the work of the ministry he received at two private schools, the one at
Baran, conducted by the Rev. R. Howells, and the other at Swansea."

Roger's entry in "Oriel Coleg Presbyteraidd" states that he kept a school for years and gave free instruction to boys preparing for the ministry:

"Bu am flynyddoedd yn cadw ysgol, a rhoddai addysg yn rhad i'r bechgyn fyddai yn paratoi
ar gyfer y weinidogaeth"

It is also suggested that a general school was kept at the Baran chapel from around 1805 which later transferred to Nantmoel Uchaf.  In "The History of Pontardawe", J.E. Morgan describes Roger as " ...minister and schoolmaster in the Baran" and another example comes from a letter, signed "Once a Pupil", that was submitted to the Cambrian newspaper on 9th August 1872.  The author of the letter is contributing to a discussion that has been taking place on the "Etymology (meaning) of Swansea"

"I remember when I was a boy at school, at Nantmoel, our Tutor - the late Mr. Howell - used
to explain the meaning of different words to us; amongst others the word Swansea."

Rees and Thomas also make reference to this general school and describe how it was a lifelong pleasure for Roger to make education available to children and young people in the neighbourhood, even though his comfortable personal circumstances meant that he had no financial need to do so.  They offer the opinion that in this isolated, mountainous district he did as much good as a schoolmaster as he did as a preacher.  They also record that after graduating from Carmarthen College, Roger was employed for a period of time as a tutor to the children of Swansea banker, J. Haynes.  There are several references in the Cambrian newspaper in the early 1800s to a George Haynes of Swansea who is described variously as a banker, treasurer and solicitor.  

Personal characteristics:

While there don't appear to be any photographs or likenesses of Roger, passages in the "Oriel Coleg Presbyteraidd" and "Hanes Eglwysi Annibynol" respectively, offer similar, physical descriptions:

"Yr oedd yn ddyn o ymddangosiad tywysogaidd, yn syml ac addfwyn yn ei holl symudiadau."

( He was a man of princely appearance, simple and meek in all his movements)

"O ran ei ymddangosiad corphorol yr oedd Mr. Howell yn ddyn nodedig o hardd, o faintioli  
cyffredin, o liw goleu, ac o edrychiad siriol a mwyn.

(In his appearance, Mr. Howell was exceptionally handsome, of average stature, fair colouring and a pleasant and amiable demeanour.)  

They also give insight to his abilities and character:

"Yr oed yn un o ysgolheigion goreu ei oes"

(He was one of the best scholars of his day)

"Er ei fod o ran ei amgylchiadau bydol yn dirfeddianwr, yn gymharol gyfoethog, ac yn
rhagorach ysgolhaig na phedwar-ar-bymtheg o bob ugain o bregethwyr ei oes, yr oedd mor
ostyngedig a diymhoniad a'r iselaf yn mysg ei frodyr.'

(Although his circumstances were such that he was a landowner, comparatively wealthy and more scholarly than most contemporary preachers, he was so humble and unpretentious in the midst of his brethren.)

"O ran ei dymer yr oedd yn anghyffredin o garuaidd ac addfwyn, ac o ran ei ymddygiad nid  
oedd un dyn mwy boneddigaidd a dirodres yn rhodio y ddaear"

(With regard to his temperament he was unusually affable and gentle and as to his behaviour there was no man more gentlemanly and unassuming to be found.)      


Roger Howell wasn't known as a particularly talented preacher, but his sermons were considered educational, offering his congregations food for thought.   He seems to have led a very active professional life, working closely with contemporary ministers to further the cause of religion.  There are many records of his presence at meetings of ministers in both Glamorgan and Carmarthenshire chapels and of him taking part in the ordination services of new ministers.  In addition to his ministry at Baran, Roger was involved in establishing Carmel chapel at Gwauncaegurwen in 1822, to serve a local body of members from the mother chapel of Cwmllynfell.  He shared the ministry of this chapel with Rev. Phillip Griffiths of Alltwen who later took on sole charge.  Posthumously, through the work of his son, John (a deacon at Baran), Roger's influence was also felt in the founding of Saron chapel, to serve the community of Rhydyfro as an offshoot of the Baran.  An indication of Roger's own belief in the power of faith is given in the pamphlet "A short history of Gellionnen and Baran" by Haydn Morgan of Trebanos which attributes the following statement to him:

" Where the Church is there is never dissension".


In the year prior to the founding of Baran Chapel, on 5th July 1804, Roger had married Sarah Elizabeth Price at St. Mary's Church, Swansea.  From the parish records at Swansea it's difficult to be sure who Sarah's parents were but William and Margaret Price provide a possible match.  It is more probable however that Sarah's parents did not actually worship at St. Mary's, but like Roger and his family, were also Non-conformists, belonging to a chapel in Swansea.  In fact, it may be possible that Sarah's family were originally from Llanelli as Roger's memorial biography states:

"Yn y flwyddyn 1804, priododd a Miss Sarah Elizabeth
merch Mr. W. Price, Penyfan, Llanelli."

Sarah was born circa 1775.  

Baran chapel records have not been made publicly available so there are no records of the baptisms or burials that took place there.  Some early baptisms might have included those of his own children, born in the early years after his marriage.  By the time of the first census of 1841, only Roger's son, John was still residing with his parents at Nantmoel:  giving no clue as to the existence of any other children.  Evidence that Roger and Sarah also had 5 surviving daughters only came from Sarah's Will of 1844, in which she bequeathed her personal belongings to be shared amongst them.  Following the custom of the day, if Roger had not died before her, Sarah would probably never have made a will.  Although she provided her daughters' Christian names in the document, Sarah gave no clues as to their married surnames.  This information was deduced from marriage records and censuses and references in the recently acquired, family Bible.   It's now known that Roger's children were:

Ann, born 9th April1805, married Evan Bevan  
Mary, born 17th August 1806, died in infancy
Howell, born February 1808, probably died in infancy
Sarah, born 16th March 1810, married Henry Bowen
Rebecca, born 6th May 1812, married Rev. Daniel Evans
Elizabeth, born 26th April 1814, married Mathew Morgan
John, born 27th May 1816, married Ann Lewis
Jane, born 9th May 1819, married Howell Jones   

Roger was enumerated on only one census - that of 1841 - which offers minimal information.  He and Sarah are recorded as living at Nantmoel Uchaf together with their son, John and his young family.  Roger is described as being "Independent" - suggesting he had by that time retired.  He actually ministered at Baran for 38 years until his death in 1843, but Haydn Thomas records that, due to ill health, Roger was assisted in his ministry from 1840 by Rev. Rhys Price who succeeded him.  According to his death certificate, Roger died of "disease of the brain" on 30th April 1843, at Nantmoel, 2 months after his 69th birthday.  The informant, present at the death, who registered this information on 3rd of May 1843, was another son-in-law, Howell Jones of Llechartfawr.  Howell was the husband of Roger and Sarah's youngest daughter, Jane, born 1819.  I can not as yet find any obituary or evidence of a will attributed to Roger.  Inheritance of Nantmoel was probably settled on Roger's son, John when he married.   

Ministers who officiated at his funeral were:   Mr. John Davies, Cwmamman; Mr. William Thomas, Glais; Mr. Rees Powell, Cross Inn; and Mr. Daniel Griffiths, Neath.  At the service, Mr. Powell and Mr. Griffiths preached from John, chapter 2, verse 20 and 2 Chronicles, 24, 15 and 16.

A year later, in 1844, Sarah also died.  Roger and Sarah were buried together in the graveyard at Baran Chapel.  At the time of Roger's death the congregation at Baran chapel numbered about 180.

Their memorial headstone reads:

In memory of the Rev. Roger Howell, Nantmole in this parish and was Minister at this place upwards of 38 years, died April 29th 1843 aged 69 years.
Byw i mi yw Christ a marw sydd elw. (For to me to live is Christ and to die is gain; Philippians 1:21)
Also Sarah Elizabeth relict of the above Rvr. Howell died June 17 1844 aged 70 years.
I have fought the good fight

Rina Callingham
August 2006

See also Baran chapel on this site


Jones, Gwilym (Gwilym Wyn) (1852-1914)




Of Cwmllynfell

Details of extant records on Archives Network Wales;

William Jones (Gwilym Wyn) of Cwmllynfell was an orator, critic and writer of poetry and prose.

He worked for a time as a miner at Old Cwmllynfell Pit.

He was married with four sons, and died in September 1914

Records ; -"Papers of Gwilym Wyn comprising poetry and prose works, eisteddfodic adjudications, essays and notes for talks and sermons, [1852]-[1914]."


Jones, David James (Gwenallt)( 1899-1968)



David James Jones  (Gwenallt) was a poet and scholar.

Details of extant records on Archives Network Wales;

 "He was born in Alltwen, on 18 May 1899. He was educated in Pontardawe and at Ystalyfera County School.

He spent the period June 1917 to May 1919 in prison as a conscientious objector. On being released, he went to study at University of Wales College, Aberystwyth, graduating in Welsh and English. Here he met Idwal Jones (1895-1937), the playwright and humorist. He taught Welsh in Barry then returned to Aberystwyth in 1927 to lecture in the Welsh Department, becoming senior lecturer and then reader. He gained an M.A. in 1929.

His research interests included the lives of the saints, the bardic schools of the late Middle Ages, and 18th-century poetry, but his main work was on the literary history of the 19th century. His scholarly works included Yr Areithiau Pros (Cardiff, 1934), Blodeugerdd o'r Ddeunawfed Ganrif (Cardiff, 1936), Y Ficer Pritchard a 'Canwyll y Cymry' (Caernarfon: Cwmni'r Llan, 1946) and a biography of Idwal Jones (Aberystwyth, 1958).

He retired in 1966. As a poet he had considerable success in the National Eisteddfod, winning the Chair in 1926 with `Y Mynach' and in 1931 with 'Breuddwyd y Bardd'. He published several volumes of poetry: Ysgubau'r Awen (Llandysul: Gomer, 1939), Cnoi Cil (Aberystwyth, 1942), Eples (Llandysul: Gomer, 1951), Gwreiddiau (Aberystwyth, 1959) and Coed (Llandysul: Gomer, 1969). He also wrote two novels: Plasau'r Brenin (Aberystwyth, 1934) and Ffwrneisiau (published posthumously: Llandysul, 1982). He was the first editor of Taliesin, 1961-1964, having been a founder member of the Welsh Academy.

He married Nel Edwards in 1937 and they had one daughter. He was awarded an honorary D.Litt. by the University of Wales in 1967.

He died in Aberystwyth on 24 December 1968."

Records held; - "Manuscripts and typescripts of poetry by Gwenallt, 1922-[1968], including 'Y Mynach', 'Ynys Enlli' and other published poems; scripts, dramas and an address, mostly written for radio, 1947-1952; notebooks, loose notes and headings containing notes copied from books and articles in preparation for lectures, talks, addresses, published works and for school, 1913-1958; letters, mostly to Gwenallt, with some to his widow, 1926-1970; material relating to his biography of Idwal Jones (1958) including notebooks and drafts of parts of the book as well as songs, poems and parodies written by Jones, 1922-[1958]; and a minute book, 1929-1933, of 'Cymdeithas yr Hwrddod', formed by Gwenallt and Idwal Jones at Aberystwyth.

 Chappell, Alderman Edgar Leyshon (1879-1949)



Alderman Edgar Leyshon Chappell (1879-1949) was born at Ystalyfera, the son of a shoemaker and commercial traveller.

Details of extant records on Archives Network Wales;

"He was educated at local schools. From 1898 to 1900, he received training as a teacher at University College, Cardiff, and by 1910 he was headmaster of an elementary school at Rhiwfawr, Pontardawe, Glamorgan. A year later he gave up teaching to work full time as a campaigner for housing reform and other social problems, initially assisting figures such as Prof. Henry Stanley Jevons with his investigations into the economic conditions in south Wales and the Garden Village movement. A pamphlet of Chappell's early work on housing, Gwalia's Homes, was published in 1911.

During the First World War he was appointed to serve on a number of Government inquiries, including the Industrial Unrest Commission for Wales in 1917 and the Ministry of Agriculture's Enquiry into Wages and Conditions in South Wales in 1918. From 1918 to 1921 he was an Inspector for the Ministry of Health's Housing Committee and in 1921 was appointed Secretary of the South Wales Regional Survey Committee of the Ministry of Health. Together with A. J. Lovat-Fraser, he published a pamphlet entitled Pithead and Factory Baths in 1920. From 1912, Edgar Chappell was Secretary of the Welsh Housing Association, later called Welsh Housing and Development Association. He edited the Association's Yearbook, 1916-1918, and published pamphlets on housing and town planning. He also lectured on these subjects and contributed numerous articles to the press.

Edgar Chappell was a life-long Socialist and was active in local government. In 1921 he was elected to represent Whitchurch as an independent member on the Cardiff Rural District Council, and, in 1930, he became its Chairman. The following year he was elected to Glamorgan County Council and later became an alderman. He wrote several pamphlets on local government in Wales, among them The Government of Wales and Wake up Wales: a Survey of Home Rule Activities in 1943.

He had a keen interest in local history, and published The History of the Port of Cardiff (1939), Historic Melingriffith (1940), and Old Whitchurch (1945). In the course of his research he collected papers relating to Melingriffith Tinplate Works, Whitchurch, Glamorgan, and to Sir Daniel Lleufer Thomas (1863-1940) for a biography (Thomas was a magistrate for Rhondda and Pontypridd, with interests in the history of Carmarthenshire, housing and town planning"

 Records;- "Papers of Edgar Leyshon Chappell, 1772-1951, including housing and public health records, 1901-1930; records relating to the South Wales Regional Survey Committee, 1920-1921; Industrial Unrest Commission records, 1904-1917; Agricultural Wages Board enquiry and research records, [ c. 1918]-1940; records relating to local government and post-war reconstruction, 1891-1945; records of Melingriffith Tinplate Works, 1772-1948; papers relating to Daniel Lleufer Thomas, 1919-1941; scrapbooks, 1910-1944; and newspaper cuttings, 1896-1923."


Cleaver, Frank H. (1924-1985)



Details of extant records on Archives Network Wales;

"Frank H. Cleaver of Pontardawe, worked in the field of education for over forty years.

He was educated at University College of Wales, Aberystwyth, and Cambridge University.

Between 1929 and 1931, he taught in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

From c. 1957 until 1965, he was Her Majesty's Inspector of Schools in Wales."

Records ;- "Papers of Frank H. Cleaver, 1924-1985, mainly accounts, including personal, family and household expenses, 1924-1985; expenses for his work in Argentina, 1929-1931; and summaries of accounts, 1949-1968."


 Jones, Rev. David Glanaman (1867-1951)



Rev. David Glanaman Jones was a minister and poet from Pontardawe

Details of extant records on Archives Network Wales;

" His publications included Cofiant Cranogwen (Caernarfon, 1932)."

Records;- "Papers of the Rev. David Glanaman Jones, Pontardawe (1867 - 1951), minister and writer, and of his brothers, c. 1887 - 1925. They include numerous notebooks, 1886-1942, containing mainly poetry with some sermon notes and addresses; poems; material, 1923-1932, collected while researching and writing Cofiant Cranogwen (Caernarfon, 1932); and addresses; and papers related to the family of Mrs D. G. Jones"


 Jones, Thomas (Professor) (1910-1981)



Professor Thomas Jones was born on 16 July 1910, the eldest son of William and Elizabeth Jones of Alltwen

Details of extant records on Archives Network Wales;

"He attended the local primary school and in 1922 moved to Ystalyfera Intermediate County School. He left the school with a State Scholarship in 1928, and enrolled as an undergraduate at the University College of Wales, Aberystwyth. He took his initial degree with First Class Honours in Latin in 1931, and the following year obtained a similar distinction in Welsh. He was then granted a Dr Samuel Williams Research Scholarship, and took for his subject of study three Welsh pseudo-historical works and their Latin originals. As a consequence of this study, he was given the degree of MA with distinction in 1935.

From 1933-1937, he held a temporary assistant lectureship post in Welsh at Aberystwyth, and was subsequently promoted to lecturer in 1941.

During his two years of national service in the Second World War, he contracted rheumatic fever whilst serving in Madagascar.

Upon returning to Aberystwyth, he was promoted to Senior Lecturer in 1946, and in 1952 he succeeded Professor Thomas Herbert Parry-Williams to the Chair of Welsh Language and Literature. He was Dean of the Faculty of Arts in 1958-1960 and Vice-Principal in 1965.

However, the fever that he had contracted whilst in Madagascar had damaged his heart, and he suffered periods of severe illness during the latter years of his life. This led to his early retirement from his chair in 1970. He was elected to a personal chair, and on reaching pensionable age, he was granted the title of Emeritus Professor.

His contribution to Welsh and Celtic scholarship was considerable in terms of both quality and quantity. His first major publication was Y Bibyl Ynghymraec, being the text and a study of the sources of the Welsh version of the Promptuarium Bibliae in 1940. He made a great contribution to Welsh historiography in his trilogy of texts of Brut y Tywysogion, the Welsh text of Peniarth MS 20 in 1941, and its English translation in 1952, and a critical text, translation and notes, of the Red Book of Hergest version in 1955. This trilogy was followed by the publication of Brenhinedd y Saesson or the Kings of the Saxons in 1971.
In 1948, he collaborated with Professor Gwyn Jones in the translation of the Mabinogion, a translation which replaced Lady Charlotte Guest's in the Everyman's Library series in 1949. In the last months of his life, he was preparing a definitive edition of the Welsh versions of the Legend of the Holy Grail, and completed the first part for the press, but did not live to complete his study of the second part.

In 1947, he married his former pupil, Mary Eileen (Mair), daughter of Francis and Elizabeth Sivell of Glangwili, and they had two daughters, Nia and Heledd.

Thomas Jones died in Llandovery Hospital on 17 August 1972"

Records; - "comprises papers relating to Professor Thomas Jones's professional and personal life, including his career and research interests, 1922-1972; correspondence and personal papers, 1932-1979; and papers, 1945-1981, of his wife, Mary Eileen Jones (Mair)"


George, William (1865-1920)


The composer William George (1865-1920), from Ystalyfera

Details of extant records on Archives Network Wales;

" ......... wrote anthems, cantatas, choruses, marching songs, part-songs, hymns, duets, musical drama and arrangements.

He also wrote three operas: Y Ferch o Gefn Ydfa; Bugail Craig y Fforest, and Y Gobaith Lofruddiwyd or Gwenhwyfar.

Many of his hymns are still sung today in the Presbyterian Church of Wales, the Independent Church and the Baptist Church in Wales.
They are included in the hymn book, Caneuon Fydd"

Records; - "Music manuscripts and personal papers of the composer William George, 1865-1920, including anthems, [1900]-1920; hymns, 1894-1920; part-songs, [1901]-1908; marching songs, 1901-1913; secular music, 1910-1917; duets, 1913-1919."


Thomas, David Vaughan (1873-1934)


David Vaughan Thomas (1873-1934), musician and composer, was born at Ystalyfera

Details of extant records on Archives Network Wales;

"He attended Llandovery College and Exeter College, Oxford, where he gained a Musical Doctorate.

He taught at Harrow School, Middlesex, before returning to Wales to devote himself to music. In 1927 he became overseas examiner for Trinity College, London, and travelled extensively in the Commonwealth.

His chief works are 'Llyn y fan', 'A Song for St Cecilia's Day' and 'The Bard'; he wrote a large number of anthems and songs, in English and Welsh, arrangements of folk songs and hymns, and instrumental works, many of which remain unpublished.

In 1906, he married Morfydd Lewis, and had three sons, including Wynford Vaughan-Thomas (1908-1987), author and broadcaster.

He died in 1934."

Records ;- "Music manuscripts and papers of David Vaughan Thomas, 1841-1973, including personal papers of D. Vaughan Thomas, 1885-1932; correspondence, 1906-1945; musical compositions, 'Llyn y Fan', songs and hymns, [ c. 1906]-[ c. 1933]; published compositions, 1906-1933; lecture notes, [ c. 1910]-1930; press cuttings, 1910-1938; and miscellaneous family papers, 1841-1973, including papers of Vaughan Thomas's grandfather and programme of a centenary concert, 1973"


Williams, Islwyn (1903-1957)


Islwyn Williams (1903-1957), author and short story writer from Ystalyfera

Details of extant records on Archives Network Wales;

" ......... was educated at Trinity College, Carmarthen, Carmarthenshire. His two famous short story volumes are Cap Wil Tomos (1946) and Storiau and Portreadau (1954). He wrote in dialect form of the Swansea valley."

Records;- "Papers of Islwyn Williams, mainly literary papers, including typed radio scripts, 1942-1963, short stories, drama scripts, humorous stories, and volumes of quotations and personal notes."


Morris, Kenneth Vennor (1879-1937)


Morris, Kenneth Vennor (1879-1937) --- author of fantasy literature who has apparently been compared, by aficionados to Tolkien.  
He co-authored (with R Machell)  The Fates of the Princes of Dyfed 1914 (google books)
He also applied some of his storytelling skills to a retelling of the Mabinogion, under the name Cenydd Morus.

He was born at Wernoleu, Pontamman; his father, Alfred Arthur Vennor Morris was one of the Morrises of Plas y Felin, Pontamman who set up the Pontamman Chemical works.  
It was Arthur who suggested the name of Ammanford in 1880, when the decision was made to change from Cross Inn.

Kenneth was also a well known theosophist (wikipedia) and lived for many years in California, where he was a professor of history and literature at a theosophist college at Point Loma.

See biographical detail on the Theosophical Society site
NB -  His mother actually died (1883) before his father (1884).  He and his surviving siblings were under the care of their paternal grandmother (Ann Morris) and aunts when he was at school in London.    

Researched and contributed by Rina Callingham (March 2009)


Huws, Llywelyn C.,   B.A (Rev)


The Reverend Llywelyn C. Huws wrote  the book Annibynwyr Gwaun-Cae-Gurwen [The history of the chapels of Carmel, Gwaun-cae-Gurwen and Tabernacle, Cwmgors] in 1942 .
There is an index and translation by Gareth Hicks on Genuki'

Here is the Preface to the above book written by the Reverend Thomas Roderick of Tabernacle, Cwmgors;-

"It is a great pleasure for me to have the honour of writing a word or two of approval for this rich and valuable volume. My good neighbour, the Reverend Llywelyn C.Huws,B.A, the dedicated and successful minister of Carmel Chapel, Gwaun-Cae-Gurwen, through his diligence in going everywhere and asking everyone for their material, has succeeded in making this history of the "Waun", its people and things, an accurate, complete and most interesting book.

It was for the National Eisteddfod in Aberpennar in 1940 that he originally compiled the book's material, and as a reward for his labours Mr Huws received first prize in the competition, together with the enthusiastic praise of the adjudicators Dr Thomas Richards, M.A. and Dr R.T.Jenkins, M.A.

But, despite pleasing the adjudicators, he was not satisfied himself and set to work re- writing large sections of the essay, and adding to it. He obtained, from time to time, a number of small local essays dealing with a variety of subjects, but he saw beyond this a whole collection of items which were knowledgeable about the village and district Gwaun-Cae-Gurwen, and most certainly, a good thing for its people and children, near and far, at home or away from home, to have such an useful volume available. I think there will be a great demand and much thanks for it.

I also recommend it to anyone who is interested in the history and various developments in the rural and industrial areas of Wales.

Thos. M. Roderick Cwmgors, October 1941."

 Here is another extract from the above book relating to the Rev Huws himself;-

".........The following year as well, namely 1928, was itself a special year in the history of Carmel, because in the month of May, they gave a call to the Rev. Llywelyn C.Huws,B.A., from Bethlehem,Cardiff, to come as their shepherd. He replied positively in the month of July. They held the induction meetings , on the Wednesday evening and the Thursday , October 24/25th.The Thursday afternoon meeting was presided over by the Rev. T.M Roderick,Tabernacl, and speeches by the Revs. D.Curwen Davies, Pontargothi, and H.Seiriol Williams,Pontardawe, the former on " The Essentials of a Flourishing Church" , and the latter on " The Successful Ministry". There was also a speech by W.H.Davies, the Church Secretary, and by several other ministers of the district. There were sermons in the separate services by the Revs. Ben Davies, Panteg; Ben Davies, Llandeilo, and Ivor O. Huws, B.A., Ferndale [ the new minister's brother].

The new minister was a native of Penmaenmawr,Caernarfonshire. He was admitted as a member in Salem by the Rev. D.P.Davies, and it was there he started to preach, in the time of the ministry of the Rev.R.J.Pritchard, B.A., having been away following a printing career for some years. He was admitted to Bala-Bangor College in 1916, and considered being allowed to sit at the feet of the late Principal Thomas Rees as one of the great privileges of his life. At the end of his career in the college, in 1922 he accepted a call from the churches Milford road, Newtown,Maldwyn and Bethany, Kerry [English], having spent 4 happy years there he moved to Bethlehem,Cardiff. ."   (p48)


 I can find no entry for his death on FreeBMD up to 1983, so the last reference to him I have is in 1953/4 in the commemorative  booklet detailed below.

Here is his photograph copied from the above book

Other references;

  Eglwys Annibynnol Carmel, Gwaun-Cae-Gurwen: adroddiad am y flwyddyn 1953. Rhifyn arbennig yn cynnwys hanes dathlu jiwbili clirio'r ddyled: chwarter canrif gweinidogaeth Mr [Llywelyn C.] Huws yng Ngharmel, (Ammanford, c.1954), 42tt.

Gareth Hicks
April 2011


Davies, Margaret, Midwife



Margaret Davies is one of my maternal great grandmothers, she became the local midwife in Cwmgors, I am obviously biased but I think she would qualify to be on most people's  list of  'Local People of Note'.

I had in my possession her midwife's Register of Cases and Midwife's Certificate and in the process of depositing these with West Glamorgan Archives I thought it would be a suitable touch if a brief story of her life, as I know it, accompanied the documents. It can be seen here on Genuki together with an index of names from the Register itself.

The midwife's Register of Cases covers the period Feb 1906 to Sept 1927 and, allowing for numbering errors, it has entries for 475 babies delivered in Cwmgors, and sometimes in the next door village of Gwaun-cae-gurwen. This includes my own mother amongst seven of the ten children of Margaret's daughter in law.

It seems extraordinary to me that she was aged 52 when the Register commences and aged 73 when it ends.

I have nothing to compare these figures with but an analysis of the entries shows that one mother died, 10 days after giving birth , 2 babies were still born, and 21 babies died at birth. Five of the latter were in 1910 which must have been a very distressing year for Margaret.

Her Midwife's Licence No 13008 dated Jan 26th 1905 issued by the Central Midwives Board can be seen on the Picture Gallery

Her photograph can be seen on my Tirbach Family Picture Gallery (top of the page)

Gareth Hicks
April 2011


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