Rev J. R. Williams

Nebo Chapel

Nebo Chapel (Picture courtesy of Hirwaun Historical Society)

A Congregational minister and author, was born in the parish of Pencarreg, near Lampeter, Cardiganshire. Like Livingstone, he was a weaver by trade, and like the Blantyre boy, he plodded day and night at his books. In 1873, he was ordained at Libanus and Cwmcamlais, Breconshire, where he worked hard and successfully. In 1878, he received a call from Nebo, Hirwaun, Glamorganshire, to be the successor of the venerable Rev. W. Williams, and there he laboured with remarkable acceptance. He was a man of great intelligence, and of varied reading. His aspirations were high, and his convictions were deep, and his preaching was powerful and earnest. He had made himself a necessity in the press, and in the pulpit of Wales; his great service to the Sunday school will not soon be forgotten, and his book entitled “Llawlyfr yr Athraw” (The Teacher’s Handbook), was very favourably received, and found to be of great practical use.

Death 18.10.1888

The Rev J. R. Williams, pastor of Nebo Congregational Church, Hirwain, died at three o’clock on Wednesday afternoon at the house of the Rev D. Phillips, Treharris. The deceased had been announced to take part at the annual services in the Tabernacle, Treharris, on Sunday last, and came from home for that purpose on Sunday morning. He complained of feeling unwell, however, and retired to the house of the Rev D. Phillips.

Feeling no better later in the day, he was put to bed, and Dr W. W. Leigh, of Glyn Bargoed, was sent for. It became evident that the reverend gentleman was in an exceedingly delicate state, and on Monday symptoms of pleurisy and inflammation revealed themselves.

Notwithstanding the most assiduous attention of Drs Leigh and Griffiths, the rev. gentleman expired on Wednesday. Mr Williams had received his ministerial training at Brecon Memorial College and was well-known throughout Wales as one of the most successful pastors and able preachers and the number of telegrams and letters enquiring as to his state of health proved that numerous friends were very deeply attached to him.

His name had become a household one in connection with Welsh Sunday-schools. It was only a few weeks ago that he was appointed secretary to the Sunday School committee of the Welsh Congregational Union, and his teachers’ handbook proved him to have been thoroughly conversant with the best methods of teaching, and well able to advise on matters of organization. Mr Williams’s loss will be very keenly felt in Congregational circles, in which he was generally regarded as one of the most promising public men of the future. He leaves a widow and four children, with whom the deepest sympathy is felt.

Funeral 23.10.1888

The remains of the Rev. J.R. Williams, Congregational minister, Hirwain, who died at Treharris on Wednesday last under very painful circumstances were interred at Aberdare Cemetery on Monday amidst universal expressions of regret.

A large number of ministers of religion from the whole of the surrounding district were present, including representatives from Neath, Merthyr, Mountain Ash, and Pontypridd, whilst amongst the more prominent laymen were: Mr. Thomas Williams, J.P., Merthyr; Mr. T.W. Davies, barrister at law; Mr. D.P. Davies, J.P., and Mr. Griffith George.

At Hirwaun all the places of business were temporarily closed, and a very large number of the residents accompanied the mournful procession. The service at the grave was conducted by the Rev. D. Silyn Evans, Siloa, Aberdare.