Josiah Thomas Jones 1799-1873

A  Congregational minister and author, was born at Cwmhir farm, in the parish of Clydau, Pembrokeshire. At the close of his college career at Newport-Pagnell, Bucks, lie became pastor of the Welsh cause at Carnarvon, where he laboured for several years with great s access. Whilst there he translated into Welsh Burkitt’s “Exposition of the New Testament,” but finding a difficulty in getting it issued through the press, he purchased a printing office of his own. He afterwards removed to Aberdare, where he established several newspapers, viz., Y Gwron, Y Gweithiwr, andThe Aberdare Times, the last named being still in existence.

He also began to publish a Welsh newspaper, bearing the title of Figaro, which he had to discontinue because he ventured to express extreme opinions. His principal works are: “GeiriadurBywgraffyddol o Enwogion Cymru” (A Biographical Dictionary of Eminent Welshmen), in 2 vols. (1867-70); and a Welsh “Biography of John Williams, the Missionary”(Carmarthen: J. T. Jones, 1813).

Aberdare Times,” February 1st, 1873
Death of the Rev Josiah Thomas Jones

Our present number will convey to our numerous readers the sad intelligence of the sudden death of the Rev. Josiah Thomas Jones, of Commercial Place, Aberdare; the founder of this journal. The rev. gentleman up to his hour of death had enjoyed good health, and was present at divine service in the Tabernacle, on Sunday evening last. He was very cheerful and communicative during the evening, and conducted the family worship; soon after which (about 10 o’clock) he retired to rest apparently in his usual health. When he had laid down about an hour he complained to his kind and affectionate, but now bereaved widow, of being sickly; the family were summoned to the bedside, medical aid was at once procured, but without avail-the spirit had taken its flight. His sudden end is, attributed to an attack of apoplexy. And thus died one whose career has been characterised by a large amount of self-denial, usefulness, and great enterprise in connection with the intellectual, moral, and spiritual welfare of his fellow-men, at the ripe age of 73.

Tabernacle Church Aberdare
Tabernacle Church Aberdare

Josiah Jones was born of pious parents Thomas and Rachel Jones, who were members of Trelech congregation at Cwmhir Farm, in the parish of Clydau, Pembrokeshire, on the 20th September, 1799. The home training had the most salutary influence over his young mind, and we find him at an early age a member of the Tabernacle Congregational Church at Narberth. He was induced by the late eminent minister, Caleb Morris, and the people of his charge to exercise his preaching talent by devoting himself to the work of the Christian ministry.

At the age of 14 he went to serve in a shop at Nevern, but at 15 (now at Narberth) he began preaching under the wing of Llwyn-yr-hwrdd church, after a little instruction by Samuel Griffiths there.

Shortly after he was received as a student at Newport Pagnel College, Buckinghamshire, under the tutorship of the late Rev T. P. Bull. At the close of his collegiate career he received a unanimous invitation to the pastorate. of the Congregational Church at Carnarvon, which he accepted. He was ordained on the 5th of August, 1828, when the following ministers officiated:—Revs. D. James, Rhosymeirch; W. Griffiths, Holyhead; W. Williams, Worn; D. Griffiths, Bethel; T. Jones, St. George; A. Jones, D.D.; also. Revs Lewis, Pwllheli; Roberts, Capel Garmon; Morris, Nebo; Williams, Blackburn; and Ridge, of Bala.

On the 12th of August, 1829, he was united in holy matrimony to Rebecca, eldest daughter of Mr Augustus Lines, Windmill Hill Farm, Aston Abbots, Buckinghamshire; an amiable and pious young lady, and who has proved herself to be a most devoted wife, and who rendered to her late husband much assistance and comfort, but is now together with her three children: plunged into the deepest sorrow after him.

Soon after his settlement in Carnarvon he took to the translating into Welsh of Burkitt’s
Exposition on the New Testament; finding some difficulty in getting it issued through the press, he resolved upon obtaining a printing office of his own, and subsequently published the work. The translation was highly commended and favourably received, no less than seven hundred clergymen alone becoming subscribers. In 1836, Mr Jones removed to the rapidly growing and most important town of Merthyr Tydfil, where amongst other useful works he purchased the copyright and published the first edition of the Welsh Theological Dictionary, by the late Rev. W. Jones Bridgend, (the father of Mrs Henry Lewis draper, of this town.) Owing to the ill health of his family, be deemed it advisable to remove to the healthy little town of Cowbridge, and here started the Gwron Cymreig (Welsh Hero); the pioneer of Welsh newspapers. But owing to the disturbed state of the country, during the chartist riots, the paper had to be given up for a time but not without causing great pecuniary loss to the proprietor.

While at Cowbridge Mr Jones received a pressing invitation from the churches of Llanybri and Bethesda, near Carmarthen, to become their pastor, which he complied with; and subsequently removed to the town of Carmarthen, where he resided for fourteen years, during the whole of which time he continued faithfully to discharge his ministerial duties with a great measure of success. Whilst residing at Carmarthen he still carried on the printing business, and issued “Y Drysorfa Gynulleidfaol” (The Treasury Congregational), a monthly periodical, through the publication of which he was instrumental in reducing the prices of Welsh periodicals throughout the country. He also re-started the “Gwron Cymreig”, and wrote as well as published many valuable works, including “Hanes y Nef a’r Ddaear” (a Welsh geography, the only work of the kind in that language), and “Daearyddiaeth Ysgrythyrol”, (Scriptural Geography).

At the instigation of many of his friends, and with the intention of increasing the circulation of “Y Gwron” he removed nineteen years ago to this town. Here, again, he laboured assiduously. He published a pocket scriptural dictionary, in Welsh, for the use of the young and the Sabbath schools; and in addition to the publication of the ”Gwron”, he established a second weekly penny newspaper entitled “Y Gweithiwr”, (The Worker), both being under the joint editorship of the late Rev W. Caledfryn Williams; Rev J. Davies (Bethania), now of Cardiff: and Dr Price (Calfaria) of Aberdare. In the year 1861, this journal was commenced. Subsequently he issued forth a second edition of “Jones’s Welsh Theological Dictionary;” and published us his last work, “Geiriadur Bywgraffyddol o Enwogion Cymru”, (Biographical Dictionary of Welsh Celebrities), in two large volumes. Nearly three years he established a fortnightly publication entitled “Y Twr”, (The Tower), for the use of Sabbath Schools, which at the beginning of the present year he changed into a monthly publication.

Mr Jones was well known as an enterprising gentleman. Pecuniary losses and other discouragements never deterred him from the one great aim of his life, namely to better the condition of his fellow-countrymen; and now that he is gone to his rest, it is a comfort to his bereaved wife and children, and numerous friends throughout the length and breadth of the Principality to think that his printing establishment was never used for the purpose of publishing anything that lowered but rather elevated the tastes and morals of the rising generation. All the productions of his press will continue to be lasting monuments of his energy and undaunted perseverance in endeavouring to further the intellectual and moral interests of his fellow-men. Little did he and his dear wife and children, and a few friends, who dropped in after the service on Sunday evening, and untidily sang the following lines.

When I tread the verge of Jordan
Bid my anxious fears subside;
Death of death, and hell’s destruction!
Land me safe on Canaan’s side:
Songs of praises
I will ever give to Thee.

Think that he was near his end. But in his case his numerous friends, have every reason to believe that sudden death was sudden glory.

On Thursday afternoon the mortal remains of the deceased gentleman were interred in the cemetery, Aberdare, amid signs of general regret. Punctually at three o’clock the large concourse of people who bad assembled to pay the last tribute of respect to the memory of the departed, formed themselves into a procession, heading the cortege were the ministers of various denominations; then came a large number of tradesmen o and friends, followed by the officers of all the lodges of Ancient Britons in the district, of which order the deceased was a useful and highly-respected brother. The hearse and mourning coach, followed by many, ladies-sympathisers with the bereaved family closed the procession. Along the route most of the places of business were partly closed, and many private houses had their blinds drawn, as the last token of respect it was possible to pay to the memory of one whose genial disposition and strict integrity had won for him an enviable and lasting worth.

The Rev. J. Parr officiated before the removal of the corpse. At the cemetery the service was conducted by the Revs. W. Williams, Hirwaun; J. Thomas, Salem; and J. Morgan, Cwmbach. The Rev. D. Price, Siloa, delivered an impressive discourse from Acts xiii, 36.

Tabernacle Church Aberdare
Tabernacle Church Aberdare

The South Wales Daily News
Referring to the above sad event

“One of the most distinguished of the Welsh literati of a past generation, and a pioneer of the newspaper press in Wales, on Sunday night passed peacefully away as a ripe old age, after a useful life, in the person of the Rev Josiah Thomas Jones of Aberdare. Mr Jones was a native of Carmarthenshire, where at one time, he had the charge of the charge, and attained repute as an earnest and thoughtful preacher. He devoted his attention, however, chiefly to literary pursuits, and is best known in the present (lay as the author of several works of considerable value, in the Welsh language. Nearly half a century ago, he established the “Gwron” a weekly newspaper, which is still remembered as having been a well-conducted journal, marked by more literary ability than, as a rule, characterised the Welsh papers of that date. He also, we believe, founded a newspaper in Merthyr and subsequently started the Aberdare Times, which he and his son, Mr. T. L. Jones have carried on up to the present time. He possessed of a retentive memory, and great capacity for collecting facts of the lives of eminent Welshmen. Mr Jones was singularly fitted for the biographical labours to which he applied himself with great assiduity, and of which his latest published work is a worthy monument.

Grave of Rev J.T. Jones

Though reserved and self-contained outside his family, the deceased gentleman was of a kind and amiable disposition and will be deeply regretted by a number of friends in various parts of Wales. The particulars of the melancholy event are supplied by our Aberdare correspondent, who, writing last (Monday) night says: ‘A general feeling of regret prevailed in the town this morning, consequent upon the death of Mr. Josiah Thomas Jones, joint proprietor with his son of the Aberdare Times. Mr Jones was in-chapel on Sunday evening, and seemed in his usual health. Later in the evening he complained of a little disposition, and shortly after the family observed that life had flown. Deceased was upwards of seventy years of age. The greater part of his time had been spent in literary labours. He was the author of numerous works. His ‘History of Heaven and Earth’ was extremely popular many years ago, and was frequently quoted as an authority.
His last and crowning work, finished a few months since was a ‘Biography of Welsh Celebrities’ in two volumes, and was dedicated by permission to the Bishop of Llandaff. Besides his other works, he has been a proprietor, publisher, and editor of a variety of newspapers and periodicals.”

[The writer of the above has committed a slight error. As already stated, Mr. Jones was born in Pembrokeshire, and not in Carmarthenshire;—ED, A.T.]

The following lines have been sent to us for publication, by Cynonwyson:

Gwawl Duw I’r oes, fu’r gwladwr rhydd, a doeth
Odiathol hanesydd:
Droa ei ddawn drwy ei dydd,
I ddynion yn ddywenycld.

Ad.enill eneidiau anwyl,—o boen
Fu ci benaf orcbwyl
A’u serchog- hanog, mown hwyl
I bur ras y nef-breswyl