Rev. Thomas Davies 1842-1909

(Picture Courtesy of R.C.T.C.B.C.)

(Picture Courtesy of R.C.T.C.B.C.)

The news of the death of the Rev. Thomas Davies, the esteemed pastor of Gwawr Welsh Baptist Church, Aberaman, came with great surprise, and cast considerable gloom over the locality on Friday morning last. The deceased, though not having manifested any serious signs of illness, had been in failing health for months past. He was 67 years of age and resided with his wife and a child of their adoption at Glamorgan Street. He was seized with an attack of inflammation early on Thursday morning. and suffered acute pain up to a few hours of his death. He had been medically attended to by Dr. Finney and passed away peacefully at 3 a.m. on Friday. Besides the relatives referred to above, he leaves a grown-up son and daughter, all of whom deeply deplore their loss.

Rev. Davies was a native of Eglwyswrw, in Pembrokeshire. He first of all followed the occupation of a rural school-master, but afterwards turned his attention to preaching the Gospel. In 1865 he received a call to the pastorate of Llangynidr Welsh Baptist Church, Breconshire, which he accepted. He was ordained there as minister in succession to the late Dr. Fred Jones (Ednyfed). After labouring successfully there, the members of Gwawr unanimously gave him a call in 1875, and he accepted the invitation.

He ministered to them faithfully to the end, having occupied his pulpit on the very last Sunday that he lived. He was a man of amiable and modest disposition and was popular amongst his church members and his neighbours generally. He was endowed with plenty of natural talent and possessed a particularly retentive memory. In the pulpit he was always clear and lucid, and his succinct qualities made him a very acceptable preacher.

He was called upon to officiate at anniversary services, etc., in most of the Welsh Baptist Churches of South Wales and had often occupied the pulpits of North Wales also. Many years ago, he was invited to take up the pastorate of Llandudno Church, but this he declined. Apart from his activity in the pulpit, he also rendered yeoman service to the Baptist cause in Wales in his capacity as secretary of the Glamorgan Welsh Baptist Association. This office he filled for a quarter of a century, and on his retirement about five years ago he was presented with a handsome testimonial and address, in recognition of his services. It was acknowledged by all who came in contact with him in his Association work that his conciseness I and succinctness were of infinite value to that body. He performed the work with thoroughness and earnestness at all times.

He was also a composer of poetry of no mean order and wrote under the nome-de-plume “Didymus.” He had adjudicated in local eisteddfodau frequently and was willing to render his service in every circle. In private life he was a most entertaining and fascinating story-teller and could amuse his friends without there being a semblance of a smile on his own face.

He was the recipient of an address and a, purse of gold from his church when he had completed his 25 years’ ministry, which indicates that he was well liked by the people. His was a peaceable nature, and the whole neighbourhood will mourn his departure. Owing to the Baptist meetings at Ynysybwl early in the week, the funeral does not take place until Thursday afternoon, when a service will be held, previous to burial, at Gwawr Church.

It was sad to hear that Rev. T. Davies had passed away, and particularly by the Welsh Baptists, I have come to understand that the Rev. Thomas Davies, pastor Gwawr, Aberaman, was asleep in death, which took place Thursday night. He had been in a weak state of his health for some time, but lately, it seemed as if he improves, and the Sunday before his death he preached as usual in the chapel, and Tuesday, January 14th, he serves at the funeral of one of its members. It seems to have a heavy cold, which caused inflammation of the lung wrestling in it. What can be said about him today as was said of Lazarus, “There he is asleep,” but “dear Jesus came to rouse him.” He leaves a widow and children, to grieve after him, and felt great longing after him by the church and all over the neighbourhood as a whole, for he was a respectable man in the area.

He was a very famous man in the denomination as a preacher, controversialist, writer, and organizer. He did considerable writings under the pseudonym ‘Didymus’ has frequently in some of the publications of the denomination. A native of Llantood, Pembrokeshire, he was, and he was born in 1845. He was well educated in their youths and was for some years a schoolmaster at Blaenffos. Being a man of considerable talent, encouraged him to go into the ministry, forty years ago, he was ordained pastor Llangynidr, Breconshire, where is has been very successful for nine years.

Pulpit References

On Sunday evening, January 20th, reference was made in almost every pulpit in Aberaman to the passing away of the Rev. T. Davies, the late esteemed pastor of Gwawr Welsh Baptist Church. At Ynyslwyd the Rev. R. E. Williams (Twrfab) made some touching references in his prayer to the less which would be sustained through the death of his co-pastor, and at the end of the service he referred to the wort done by Mr. Davies in the denomination. Mr. William Davies, one of the deacons, also spoke of bis knowledge of the deceased, whom he remembered coming to Aberaman 32 years ago.

At Saron the Rev. H. P. Jenkins dwelt upon his close connection with the late rev. gentleman and said that he had always found him in a meek and ‘humble disposition. Mr. J. H. Powell, Danygraig, Aberdare, and Mr. Dl. Thomas, Aberdare, also spoke in the same strain, after which a vote of condolence with the church and family was expressed by the congregation standing up together.

At Gwawr the services on Sunday were conducted by Mr. Davies, a local preacher, who is a member of Gwawr Church. Needless to say, the members there felt the loss of their pastor very deeply, and many left the service in the evening with tears in their eyes.

The Funeral

Deep sorrow and universal regret prevailed in Aberaman on Thursday, the day of the funeral. Shortly after 2 o’clock the funeral procession wended its way from the deceased’s residence in Glamorgan Street, and proceeded too Gwawr Baptist Church. A particularly strong united choir had been formed, which rendered specially selected hymn-tunes en route. The choir was conducted by Mr. Thomas Williams, the precentor of Gwawr, assisted by Messrs. Gurnos Jones, William John Jenkins, and Levi Jones.

As the procession entered Gwawr Chapel, which was already full, the organist, Mr. Gurnos Jones, played the “Dead March” in “Saul” with a very fine and impressive effect. The pulpit and the aisles of the chapel were draped with black. The Rev. Thomas Humphreys, pastor of Seion, Cwmaman, conducted the service. He referred to the close association which had existed between him and the deceased. The presence of practically every member of the church there that afternoon showed that the people liked him, and that they regretted his departure. It was hard for them to reconcile themselves to the loss, after a friendship of nearly 33 years.

The coffin, which was of plain oak with brass fittings, was then brought in by the following deacons of the church, who acted as bearers: Messrs. Benjamin Lewis (manager), W. T. Roberts, John Williams (George Street), John Williams (Regent Street), James Davies, John Owen, John Griffiths, and Wm. Lewis. The Rev. H. P. Jenkins, Saron, in an emotional manner, read the last portion of ‘1 Cor. iv.’ The Rev. W. A. Williams, Blaengarw, then followed in prayer, during which many of the congregation burst into, tears. He invoked the blessing of God upon the family, the widow, and the church. The Rev. T. Humphreys gave out the hymn, “Mae brodyr imi aeth yn mlaen,” which was sung to the tune “St. Peter,” by the choir and congregation.

The Rev. R. E. Williams (Twrfab) then delivered a few brief but sympathetic words. He referred to his first acquaintanceship with the late Mr. Davies 35 years ago, when they both preached together at the same Cymanfa. They had also been co-pastors for a period of 30 years, during which time a perfect understanding and brotherly love had prevailed.

The following ministers and laymen wrote expressing their inability to be present, Revs. W. Harris, ex-pastor of Heol-y-Felin; J. Onfel Jenkins, Penarth, and Llwchwr Jones, Cardiff; Alderman Edward Thomas, J.P. (Cochfarf); Revs. J. Edwards, Ynysybwl; R. R. Thomas, Capel Rhondda; D’. C. Jones, Dinas; Thomas Jones, Barry; Owen Jones, Cowbridge; R. Lloyd, Canton; Iorwerth Jones, Maesteg; J. Maldwyn Lewis, Forth; J. Edwards, Perth; Mr. Thomas Thomas, Cardigan; Revs. R. B. Jones, Ynyshir; J. Jones, Troedyrhiw; J. Nicholas, Merthyr; H. Harries, Treherbert; B. James, Cwmtwrch; Fred Morgan, Mountain Ash; J. Evans, Mardy; E. p. Evans, Pontardawe; B. Thomas, London; S. G. Bowen, Cemaes; and Prof. Davies, Cardiff; also Rev. W. Thomas (Cwmdare), Dr. Morris (Treorchy), and the Rev. E. Edmunds, Swansea, the secretary of the Welsh Baptist Union.

Mr. Evan Owen, J.P., Cardiff, said that the spot upon which he stood brought to his mind reminiscences of the days gone by. It was here that he obtained his first spiritual impulses, when the Revs. Thomas Nicholas and Morgan Phillips were pastors of the church. They were succeeded by an amiable man in the person of the Rev. Thomas Davies, whose body was to be interred that day. He was a man* who was quiet, unassuming, and innocent, and the stamp of country life was to be seen upon his nature. His greatest thought was for his pulpit, which he loved as his own soul.

The Rev. Charles Davies, Tabernacle, Cardiff, remarked that the late Mr. Davies was a man who felt the sting of another’s unkind word to such an extent that he would never give vent to an unkind word himself. The mellowing influence of his countenance and his pulpit would long remain. He (the speaker) had also been deputised at the half- yearly meetings of the East Glamorgan Baptist Association, held at Ynysybwl that morning, to express the sympathy of that body towards the church and family.

Mr. John Williams, M.P. for the Division of Gower, said that he well remembered the earlier years of Mr. Davies’s ministry, and the many kind counsels he had received at his hands. He thought that he owed his present social position to the influence of Gwawr pulpit and Vestry, where he, had heard so many prayers offered by the religious people of old, including his own father. The late Rev. Thomas Davies and his father had been close friends.

The Rev. Dr. Gomer Lewis, of Swansea, said that Mr. Davies possessed a most lovable nature, and he well remembered how the deceased had cried pitifully at the funeral of the late Rev. B. Evans (Telynfab). He would not say “Farewell” to his departed friend, however, but simply “Good-night.”

The hymn, “Dal Fi, Arglwydd,” was then sung with emotion. The funeral procession was thereupon re-formed and proceeded to the Aberdare Public Cemetery. Amongst the ministers present we noticed the following: Revs R. E. Williams Ynyslwyd; Joseph James, Cwmbach, T. Humphreys, Cwmaman; G. Llechidon Williams, Godreaman; W E. Harris, Beulah; H. P. Jenkins (Cong.), J. Lewis (CM.), T. Thomas (Cong.), Noddfa, J. T. Rhys, (cong.) Bethany; H. A. Davies (Cong.), Cwmaman; W. Holland (P.M.); James Griffiths, Calfaria; W. Cynog Williams, Trecynon; D. Hopkins, Noddfa, Trecynon; M. Jenkins. Abercwmboi; J. Robertson, M.A. (Pres), J. Grawys Jones (Cong.); W. S. Davies (Gong.), Llwydcoed; J. Tudor, B.A. (Cong.).

Rev. M. Powell, B.A. Vicar of Aberaman; and also, the following Baptist ministers: Dr. Waldo James, Porth; Dr. Gomer Lewis, Swansea; Revs. Charles Davies, Cardiff; E. W Davies, Ton: W. R. Jones, Penrhiwceiber; W. A. Jones, Merthyr; D. James, Tony retail; James Davies, Cwmpark; D. G. Price, Penderyn; Ceinfryn Thomas, Dowlais; W. Jones, Treharris, B. Saunders, Rhymney; T. E. Williams, Berthlwyd; J. M. Jones, Newbridge: D. Roberts, Senghenydd; R. D. Phillips, Cilfynydd; H. Williams, Pontypridd J. H Davies, Cefn; T. P. Lloyd, Merthyr; W. Evans, Cross Hands; B. E. Williams, Hafod: W. Harris, Cardiff; D. D. Hopkins, Perth; J. Nicholas, Tonypandy; D. L. Jones, Merthyr; W. Llewelyn, Llangynidr; D. Griffiths, Merthyr; W. C. Harris, Glyn Neath: W. A. Williams, Blaengarw; o. Stanley Thomas, Glyn Neath; Thomas, Pentrebach; W. O. Jones, Barry: J. II. Phillips, Pontygwaith, Ioan Thomas, Llanbradach, D. Hopkins, Pontycymmer; R. Morris, Pontsticill, W. B. Griffiths, Llantrisant, D. H. Davies, Abercynon, W. S. Jones, Llwynypia; E. Jones, Merthyr: .T. T. Jones, Blaen Clydach; The-. Humphrey, Blaenllechau, J. S. Davies (Cong.), Abercwmboi; and G. Bowen, D. Silyn Evans (Cong.), and J. M. Jones, M.A. (Cong.), Tabernacle.

The following laymen were also present: Messrs W. Lewis, Penydarren; T Edmunds, Mountain Ash: Rees Rees, Aberdare; Owen George, Hirwain; Wm. Pugh, Llangynidr; J. H. Powell, Danygraig, Aberdare; E. Jones, Nantgwawr House, and Jacob R. Jones, Aberaman; E. Morgan, Mountain Ash; John Simon, Aberaman; John Del. Williams, and David Davies, deacons of Ynyslwyd; Mr. John Jones, Gwawr Cottage.

Among the tradesmen and public men of Aberaman were: Councillor John Howell, Messrs I. E. Thomas, John Lewis, D. Doughton, John Williams, James Lewis, T. Rees, T. Walters, T. Thomas, D. Davies, Aberdare.

The Rev. W. R. Jones, Penrhiwceiber, and the Rev. W. Jones, Treharris, spoke at the graveside. The Rev. J. Griffiths, Calfaria, offered prayer on behalf of the widow, the family, and church.

The mourners were: Mrs. Elizabeth Davies, widow; Mr. Alfred Davies and Mrs. Maggie Davies, son and daughter- in-law; Mr. Joseph Jones and Mrs. Emily Jones, daughter and son-in-law, Blaengarw; Miss Lizzie Davies, grand- daughter; Messrs. R. Francis and T. Francis, of Glyn-Neath, brothers-in-law; Mrs. Francis, Glyn-Neath, sister-in-law; Misses Maggie and Doris Davies, grand- daughters; Masters Wm. Thos. Jones and Alfred Stephen Jones, grandsons, and Misses Elizabeth Jane Jones, Margret, May Jones, and Emily Jones, grand- daughters; also Mrs. Thomas and Mr and Mrs. Thomas, Glyn-Neath.

Wreaths had been sent by Mr. D. A. Thomas, M.P., and friends. The esteem in which the pastor was held may be gleaned from, the fact that all the funeral expenses were paid by the church. The funeral arrangements were carried out by Mr. Collier.

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