Benjamin Evans "Telynfab" 1844-1900  

Benjamin Evans 1845-1900 "Telynfab"

Mr. Evans was born at Dowlais in 1845. At the early age of eight he accompanied his father into a coal mine, working for many years from six o'clock in the morning until eight o'clock at night, day after day. This is only a fair illustration of the life of Welsh youths about 35 years ago, many of whom are to-day figuring prominently in the literary and religious circles of "gallant little Wales”. Mr. Evans was baptized when about twelve years of age, at Moriah, Dowlais. When he was fifteen years of age, the family removed to Mountain Ash. Here, in a few years after their removal, his father, and the main supporter of a family of seven children, was killed at his work in a coal mine. Mr. Evans was at this time about twenty years of age, and the support of the large family entirely devolved upon him.
Picture inside Rhos Chapel
Picture inside Rhos Chapel

Shortly after this he commenced preaching at Rhos Welsh Baptist Chapel, Mountain Ash. About this time also the double shift system became the subject of a fiery public discussion, and the young collier-preacher attained some prominence as a staunch supporter of the workmen's demands. His contributions to the press under the nom-de-plume of "Nero" will be remembered by many in these districts. After a preparatory training of eleven months, preaching occasionally in the evenings at Rhos Chapel, and toiling underground by day, Mr. Evans entered Graig House School, Swansea, and in three months after leaving the coal-pit successfully passed an examination at Haverfordwest College in 1868 where he stayed for three years.

From here he took charge of a church at St. David's, Pembrokeshire, at a salary of £45 per annum. An incident characteristic of the Reverend Gentleman occurred here. Mr Evans thought the chapel wanted renovating. The members thought they were not in a position to afford anything of the kind. So firmly were they convinced on this point that they refused to sign the contract already partly entered into. Mr Evans was not to be out-done, so, taking advantage of the contractor's willingness to accept his signature only, the renovation was proceeded with, and Mr Evans, during a tour made through the adjoining districts, collected nearly sufficient to defray all costs. He remained at St. David's for five years, at the end of which his stipend had doubled.

After receiving a pressing invitation from Gadlys Welsh Baptist Church, at Aberdare, he accepted, and has remained there ever since. During his ministry the membership has considerably increased and now numbers about 270. The various Sunday services and week night meetings are invariably well attended. There is a flourishing Sunday School with a membership of about 250, the joint superintendents being Mr T. Thomas and Mr A. Thomas, A.C. The Secretary of the church is Mr Edward Thomas and the Treasurer Mr Edward Probert.

Gadlys Chapel Aberdare
Gadlys Chapel Aberdare

He was a member of many of the most prominent friendly societies. He does a considerable amount of work for them and is this year's president of the Loyal Alfred’s Unity. He is the financial secretary of the Welsh Baptist Union, financial secretary of the Baptist Sunday School Union, agent of the Foreign Missionary Society since 1879, and secretary of the Baptist Home Mission of Glamorganshire with a membership of 20,000. Mr Evans has sole charge of the “Hauwr”, a Baptist monthly with a circulation of 9,000 copies.

Another important post he filled was that of secretary to the Aberdare Intermediate School Committee. He also occupied a seat on the Aberdare Urban District Council.  Rev Evans was far from being indolent or phlegmatic, he was also a staunch Eisteddfodwr, and his services as adjudicator and conductor were also used. At the Brecon National Eisteddfod he was successful in securing a prize of 25 guineas for a Biography of Rev. Dr. Price, of Aberdare.

L to R: (Standing) Rev. T Humphries, G George, E Morgan R Llewellyn, D Williams, John Howell, Owen Harris, Thomas Rees, E M Hann, Rev. B Evans, M John; (Sitting) Thomas Thomas, Owen Williams, Thomas Phillips, R H Rhys, D P Davies, William Thomas
L to R: (Standing) Rev. T Humphries, G George, E Morgan R Llewellyn, D Williams, John Howell, Owen Harris, Thomas Rees, E M Hann, Rev. B Evans, M John; (Sitting) Thomas Thomas, Owen Williams, Thomas Phillips, R H Rhys, D P Davies, William Thomas

A conductor of a large gathering of people he was largely endowed with the qualities which are essential in a capable and entertaining conductor of a mixed audience. There was nothing preachy in his dress or appearance. The small figure, dressed in a grey coat and a bowler hat, was far from sedate looking countenance, and the pair of restless eyes peering through another pair of spectacles, stuck high upon a well-defined nose, is a well-known person in the streets of Aberdare. When we state that his countenance is not of the sedate kind, we mean that he never seldom wears that look of sanctimonious gravity, which we are only too apt to notice distorting the pleasant lineaments of a face, which seems to convey the impression that Christianity to the wearer thereof is a weight and melancholy sentiment, which looks upon a smile pitifully and considers a sharp movement devoid of grace-spiritually so In direct and happy contrast to this, the Rev. B. Evans in the social circle of approved friends is a veritable humourist. Some people are inclined to the belief that he is occasionally inclined to be "dipyn bach yn ysgafn," which is nothing more than to say that he is jovial and light- hearted. Well, he is not a wailing sentimentalist, or a man of dejected moods. In the midst of his acquaintances on the hearth, in a train, and at the Wells or seaside, he generally comes to the front as the hero of an amusing incident or merry situation.

He deservedly occupied an honourable position as a preacher amongst the Welsh Baptists, and as a lecturer he was both humorous and instructive. (Baptist Handbook 1901) See Y Geninen, 1901, p. 210; Cardiff Catalogue.

Grave of Rev Benjamin Evans Aberdare Cemetery
Grave of Rev Benjamin Evans Aberdare Cemetery