Pamela Morgan “Mother Shepherd” 1836 – 1930

Salvation Army

Mother Shepher

In 1836 the year before Queen Victoria came to the throne, Pamela Morgan was born in the hamlet of Talywain on the hills behind Newport, Monmouthshire. Pamela grew up close grew up close to the glare and fires of the ironworks at Abersychan, where her father was in charge of the blacksmith’s shop. The standard shifts were twelve hours for men, boys, women and girls.

Passionately devoted to Welsh Tradition, she was self-educated and knowledge-able in four languages, English, Welsh, Latin and Greek. She married Bill Shepherd and for part of her early life lived in the East End of London working with General William Booth, Commander in Chief of the Salvation Army.

In 1863 on the invitation of John & Richard Cory “Ship & colliery owners (Penrhiwceiber Colliery), invited General William and Catherine Booth to Cardiff at Shiloh Chapel, also there was Pamela Morgan with her husband Bill Shepherd. The Salvation Army have taken Cymmer Old Chapel and revival meetings will be commenced there on the Sunday next by Mrs Shepherd. This church many years ago, was the scene of some wonderful demonstrative revivals, where Welsh people jumped like Dervishes, “Western Mail, March 29, 1879”.

When Mother Shepherd, accompanied by her two youngest daughters Polly and Sally, took charge of West Bromwich Corps in June 1881, soldiers and people alike took no notice of them. Sally, noticing her mother’s distress, and having heard William Booth state that he would even wear a red coat for Jesus, turned her red lined white coat inside out and headed their small procession beating a tambourine with immediate effect.

In later life she started the Bible Women of the British Women’s Temperance Association; she spent 14 years at the police court in Aberdare as a missionary, founded the Mother Shepherd Mission in Trecynon and was appointed the first probation officer in the valley when the service was founded in 1901. Mother Shepherd lived in East Avenue Gadlys is credited as having saved many from a life of crime.

She was on St David’s day in 1930 and the town came to a standstill on the day of her funeral where she was hailed as a “Christian lady od outstanding popularity and value”.

The Funeral

Mothers Shepherd died at the age on 94, the possession start from her house, the bearers were six Police Officers from Aberdare Court Missionary and Probation Officers. The local bands came from all the valleys, to augment the small Aberdare Corps Band, Major Jonah Evans of Barry who had conducted a service in the cottage.

The procession then left to the Trinity Chapel in Canon St, Aberdare, the possession started with the band playing “Make my soul a watered garden”. The ‘Dead March’ followed the vibrant notes resounding from the houses.

The Aberdare Leader (short extract) describes the scene:

“Slowly and sadly the mortal remains of Mother Shepherd, most beloved of Aberdare women, were laid to rest in the green earth on Thursday, whilst the hearts of men brimmed with grief at the passing of one who had brought so much sunshine into the lives of those of her ‘children’ who new sadness indeed, who had brought the spirit of Him from the infinite into the streets and homes of Aberdare. Following a short service at her house the coffin was borne from her house to the awaiting hearse. Many spectators were moist at the sight of the ‘good Mother’s’ Welsh hat, her familiar Mission bonnet and beloved Bible which lay on the oaken casket.

The service was conducted at Trinity by Major Jonah Evans, the hymns sung were, ‘Jesu, lover of my soul’ and ‘I know there is a bright glorious land’. A portion of Scripture was read by Major Blower of Cardiff and a fervent prayer offered by Ensign West, Aberdare. The prayer “We shall all walk through the valley of death” was chanted by the congregation.

The singing in the Chapel was accompanied by the augmented Salvation Army Band under the conductorship of Bandmaster Albert Brown, Aberdare.

Mother Shephers Funeral
Mother Shepherds Funeral

The streets were thronged with people and blinds were lowered as the cortege proceeded to the cemetery, headed by the band which played en route. Release from school to see the possession pass by, the children in their National costume, for St David’s day, formed a colourful group in the crowded road to the cemetery, past the Park which she proclaimed her faith in open air. The band played one stirring hymn after another, Welsh and English. All Aberdare was there in “funeral of a Princess” as one paper wrote.
Mother Shepherd's Grave
Mother Shepherd’s Grave