Griffith Rhys Jones Caradoc 1834 – 1897

Griffith Rhys Jones Caradoc 1834 - 1897

Griffith Rhys Jones was born on the 21st of December 1834, at the Rose and Crown Inn, Mill St Trecynon, Aberdare, is father’s name was John Jones, who was a carpenter by trade. His maternal grandfather’s, David Hughes, a native of North Wales, was a local preacher with the Baptists at Pontneathvaughan: while on his father’s side he was descended from the Rev John Jones, vicar of Llanishen, Llysfaen, and Llanederyn.

His mother was well educated and a very shrewd woman. In addition to the gifted Caradoc they had two other sons John and David, Caradoc being the youngest, John the oldest is celebrated as a violinist and is one of an exceedingly able mathematicians. As evidence of his brother John had a great talent it may be mentioned that he was engaged by the Russian Government to solve some problems which had confounded all others, but which he succeeded in explaining. After this he was engaged as mathematician at one of her Majesty’s dockyards, where he remained for some years, but at present he is employed at Dawson’s great foundry in Sydney Australia.

It is interesting to trace this elder brother’s “hours of ease” after his day’s labour at Abernant as a pattern maker, to which trade he served is time, with his violin in hand amusing himself, and giving at the same time an impulse to the spirit of his little brother “Griff” (Caradoc) which not only has had the effect of distinguishing his own family, but of adding luster to wild Wales, the country of his birth.

It is asserted by those that know the family well that from 6 to 7 years of age Caradoc manifested remarkable aptitude and fondness for music, and his brother John taught him at that early age to play the violin, but he was so short at the time that the violin had to rest on the floor, a la violoncello and people who are not yet old remember with what delight they would visit the “Crown” to hear John and little “Griff” playing the violins together. His father died when Caradoc was very young, and to this may be attributable the fact that the youthful prodigy did not obtain a technical musical education, which it was intended that he should have had, but misfortune had ne barriers for Caradoc; he mounted over all obstacles. It is said of him that his great hobby as a boy was concerted music, if he could associate himself with those who could play musical pieces in concert with him he was extremely happy. His chief associate of course was his brother, but one or two brothers joined him now and again. It would not belong in the society of those who know with what consummate skill he can relate a story without being met with the request to give the company a “story fach”. The stories of “Griff o’r Crown” as he is familiarly known to his friends, are the public property of Aberdare Valley, and are frequently repeated.

His brother ultimately went away and “Griff” commenced the earnest business of life learning a trade of a blacksmith, and earning what is known in Wales as bara a chaws “a crust or bread and butter” for himself. But it is pleasant to remember that the roar of the forge did not destroy his fine ear for music, and that he still under all difficulties was an earnest disciple of Apollo, and that his beloved art was his chief solace in his spare moments, after the hours of labour. After his brother went away he, without the aid of any master, studied the works of the great masters in the world of music, hoarding his pence, then “Y pris yn fawr a’r pris yn fach” (the price is small’ meaning that some were expensive, while others ones are cheap) to purchase the works of Handel, Mozart and others., He gradually became to be distinguished at those nurseries for intelligence and mental culture-our eisteddfodau and is today one of the chief ornaments.

Caradog’s ambition, however, was to become a choir leader, and when 19 years of age a choir under his conductorship won a prize at, the Aberavon Eisteddfod, in June, 1853. That choir was given the name of Cor Caradog, and from that time out the leader himself became known as Caradog. Thus was commenced a musical career which proved to be one of the most remarkable in the annals of Welsh music. After this victory the young blacksmith experienced no difficulty in the formation of choirs, for musicians from far and near eagerly rallied to his support. For many years he, with unselfish devotion to his beloved art, taught at the singing classes at the Hen-Dy-Cwrdd at Trecynon, and a little later he was found a prominent figure at the Eisteddfodau originated and carried on for many years at Trecynon by the late Carw Coch, Eisteddfodau which in their turn led to the resuscitation of the National Eisteddfod of 1893.

The prizes he has won at eisteddfodau for excellence in music are by far too numerous to be mentioned here. Wherever he competed he invariably carried away the trophy, twenty years ago he formed his first choir, which is the model upon which the South Wales Choral Union as formed. It was composed of picked voices from the choirs of Aberdare and district and was established to compete for the chief prize for the best rendering of “Hallelujah to the Father” (“Mount of Olives”) at Aberavon Eisteddfod. The choir had been formed and was prepared to enter the list, but when the time came to send in their names as competitors they were in some perplexity as to what name to adopt.


Caradog was apprenticed to the trade of a blacksmith, but his musical genius early asserted itself, and as a boy he became celebrated as an expert violinist. His ambition, however, was to become a choir leader, and when 19 years of age a choir under his conductorship won a prize at the Aberavon Eisteddfod in June, 1853. That choir was given the name of Cor Caradog and from that time out the leader himself became known as Caradog. Thus was commenced a musical career which proved to be one of the most remarkable in the annals of Welsh music. After this victory the young black smith experienced no difficulty in the formation of choirs, for musicians from far and near eagerly rallied to his support.

In June, 1872, the choir secured the cup at the Crystal Palace without a contest; but the following year the interest was greatly intensified when it became known that the choir would have to meet one of the crack choirs of London, known as the “Paris Prize Choir,” under the leadership of Mr Proudman. Space forbids more than a reference to the departure of the choir from Aberdare on July 8th, 1873, when marshalled by Canon Jenkin and Dr. Price, the Five Hundred started for Bristol, where they held a concert that evening. Here they were presented by a number of American Welshmen (who, burning with the patriotic fire, had come over the Atlantic to be present at the contest) with several purses of gold contributed by the Cymry of America; and with a handsome silk banner, bearing the emblems of Welsh nationality, presented by Messrs. James Howell and Co., the Cardiff drapers. Their concert at the Colston Hall that night was long remembered, one noteworthy feature being Eos Morlais’s rendering of the aria “Sound an alarm” which fairly electrified the usually phlegmatic Englishmen. On the following day, July 10th, the memorable contest took place in the Crystal Palace, the adjudicators being Sir Julius Benedict, Sir John Goss, and Mr Joseph Barnby.

The choruses rendered were “I wrestle and pray,’ “Hallelujah to the Father,” “See what love hath the Father,” and “Come with torches.” The scene when Mr Thomas Phillips, M.P., on behalf of the adjudicators, announced that the South Wales Choir was victorious, was simply un-describable.

There is a choir of the descendants of the ancient British people, of a people whom the Romans termed the Silurian’s in a moment of anxiety as to the name to adopt on the eve of a struggle for supremacy, but this time in music, receiving a name from, as it were, the echoes of their ancient mountains, the ever-glorious name of Caractacus (Welsh Caradoc). His choir was successful next at Carw Coch Eisteddfod, Aberdare Valley, again at four annual eisteddfodau at Aberdare, the pieces competed in being “Rise up arise” (Mendelssohn); “The heavens are telling” (Haydn); “The Earthquake” (Owen Alaw); “The kingdoms of the earth” (Lloyd).

The next great eisteddfod was at Pontypridd, when his choir won the chief prize for the rendering of “Thanks to be God” (Mendelssohn), one of the chief events of his life was winning the one of the prizes at the great eisteddfod held at Neath on the 24th and 25th of September 1860. The renown of his splendid choir, which was then known at the Aberdare United Choir, he retaining the old name, had stirred up the musical talent of South Wales, and no fewer than fifteen great choirs disputed the field with the Aberdarians, The Chorus was “The heavens are telling,” Caradoc was again the victor, receiving a heavy purse of gold and a silver medal. Then followed victories at Llanelli and Llandilo, the pieces being “Be not afraid,” “Worthy is the lamb” and the Amen Chorus” (Messiah). Again at Newport eisteddfod, the chief event during his last three years of his life in Aberdare, 1868, 1869 and 1870, were is successes at the Swansea eisteddfodau. In the first named year the prize was £20, with a baton; the second £25, with a beautiful metronome; third £30, with a medal.

He has at all times been most generous in aiding every good cause with his great musical talent, as the people of Aberdare, Cwmbach and the surrounding districts can testify, generously giving his labours’ free of charge when the debt upon a chapel was to be cleared or any other good cause of a similar nature. Sometimes he would be thanked; at other times he would be treated as if the recipients them to receive, and probably they were not wrong.

In this connection Mr Tom Edwards, of Cefn House, Pontypridd; told a very good story: “The two choirs sat one on either side of the orchestra, the ladies in Proudman’s choir being most artistically dressed in white, some with blue and some with red sashes; while the Welsh ladies sported all the variegated colours of the rainbow, and in dress by no means up to date. Caradog came before his choristers and told them that when the singing was over and the adjudication came to be announced, they were not to get excited. If they lost let them take it coolly; if they won let them take it just as coolly. He repeatedly urged this advice upon them. When the singing was over, however, and Tom Hughes, alas that we must add the late Tom Hughes, the author of “Tom Brown’ School Days” announced the result, all Caradog’s philosophic “coolness” went to the winds and he jumped up on a seat, threw his hat in the air, and cried, “Ni pia hi, fechgyn,” and needles to add the choir followed his example, and the scene that followed will never be forgotten by those who were present. Before leaving the Metropolis, thanks to the patriotic endeavours of the late Lord Aberdare and the late Mr Brinley Richards, the choir were presented to their Royal Highnesses the Prince and Princess of Wales at Marlborough House, where they sang “God Save the Queen,” “Llwyn Onn” (in Welsh), “Let the hills resound’ (which was repeated at the special request of the Prince), and “The March of the Men of Harlech.” In addition to the Challenge Cup and the money prize, the former of which however, was by the terms of the competition only to be held for one year, the choir was presented with a magnificent silver cup by the Welsh in London, and the leader with two gold batons from the Welshmen of Australia and California respectively”

Caradog the blacksmith

He has worked as a blacksmith at Gadlys, Ysguborwen, Cardiff, Pontypridd (chain works), Abernant and Lletty Shenkin. As presenting a picture which will enable the world to judge of the difficulties he had to encounter in studying music, it may be mentioned that not long ago a friend asked him what was the nature of his work his work at Lletty Shenkin. “Well,” was his reply, “I worked with four other blacksmiths, and had to look after the water pipes underground. But the work was of such a nature that it destroyed a suit of clothes every couple of months and this did not pay. A friend told me that the Clarence Inn “33A Canon St Aberdare” was to let and I took it. From then I went to the Fothergill Arms “15 Victoria Square Aberdare”, and ultimately came to Treorchy.” His present wife is the daughter of the late Mr. John Williams the Manager of Letty Shenkin Colliery.

Caradog’s Connection with Music in the Rhondda

Our Treorky reporter writes: The Prince of Leaders first came to the Rhondda from the Aberdare Valley at the close of the year 1870. He brought with him the reputation of being one of the cleverest choral conductors in South Wales if not in the whole of Wales. He settled down at Treorky having leased the Treorky Hotel. He came here when the locality, and, in fact the entire Valley, was in its stage of infancy. He resided here for many years, and watched the development of the district with interest. Naturally a person with his reputation and possessing the talents he did was surrounding in his new home by the best of society. Immediately after he had settled down, a male voice choir party formed, with its head-quarters at Caradog’s residence. Among the members of that party was the late Mr Tom Felix a sweet tenor who was successful at the National Eisteddfod held at Merthyr some years ago: Mr Augustus Lewis (brother of Ald. K. Lewis. J.P., and then became H.M. Chief Inspector of Factories for Wales), and Mr M. O. Jones. G. and L. Treherbert.

The post of conductor was taken up by the subject of our sketch, while the secretarial duties were discharged by Mr M. O. Jones. The other members were drawn from Treherbert, Treorky, and Pentre. This party gave several concerts, but it ceased to exist at the time the section of the “Cor Mawr” was formed. After the great and memorable contests in London, the local section was augmented, and the first big choir was established at Treorky; under the conductorship of Caradog. In 1874 the choir gave a very successful performance of Haydn’s “Creation,” the soprano part being taken by the late Miss Marion Williams, London, and the bass by Mr David Morgan, at that time; traffic inspector on the T.V.R. This choir also learnt Soohr’s “Last Judgment,” but this was not performed.

In the autumn of 1874 an influential committee of local gentlemen was formed, and met at the Treorky schoolroom for the purpose of making a national testimonial to Caradog, to celebrate the magnificent victory at Crystal Palace. Mr M. O. Jones, Treherbert, was appointed secretary, in conjunction with Messrs. W. Davies and Brythonfryn Griffiths, Aberdare, and Dr. Price (treasurer). Over £400 was collected for this testimonial, £100 of which was given by the late Mr Davis, Blaengwawr. The testimonial was presented at a meeting held at the Black Lion Hotel, Aberdare, in 1875. The deceased musician resided at Treorky for six years, and then removed to Treherbert, where he remained for a few years. Previously to his coming to live at the latter place Mr M. 0. Jones had a choir which performed the “Messiah.” After the performance, seeing that the great leader was again anxious to get into harness as a conductor, Mr Jones readily gave up the reins, and the noble conductor took them. Caradog subsequently performed “Elijah” and “St. Paul” with the Treherbert Choir, and the same works were also performed at Cardiff and Aberdare. When residing at Treherbert he attended worship at the Libanus Welsh Baptist Chapel, and in 1880 he was received as a member by the late Rev Lewis Jones. During the remainder of his time at Treherbert he was very faithful at Libanus, being a teacher at the Sunday School, and he also conducted the singing of the chapel. It is said that the singing improved immediately I there at that time; indeed, Libanus worshippers could boast of the best congregational singing in the Valley and the effect of his careful and masterly training is still to be seen in the locality. When he left Treherbert for Llanybyther the musical fraternity lost from their midst one who; had become very dear to them, and the gap caused by his removal has never since been filled.

He was generous, genial, and kind hearted, and in music especially was easily affected. Speaking of the great hero who had just departed Mr Tom Stephens told me that many times when he (Mr Stephens) was singing alto with him, did he see the tears roll down his cheeks when explaining the ideas of some of the great composers in their oratorios. “A strange thing,” added Mr Stephens, “that of all the occasions that I have sung under his conductorship only once we lost, and on that occasion^ it was a very peculiar adjudication. This was at the Carmarthen National Eisteddfod, the late Mr Henry Leslie being one of the adjudicators. The prize was £30. and the adjudicator, in awarding his adjudication, divided the prize between three choirs; £15, £10, and £5, the last of which was given to our choir, and it was an adjudication with which I could not altogether agree, as if one choir was better than the other, the whole prize should have been awarded to it.”

Caradog accepted the defeat in good spirit. The deceased conductor displayed remarkable talent in grasping a composer’s meaning in his music and also of being able to bring out their idea and climaxes in the chorus. Although partly deaf in one ear, not a wrong note or chord would ever escape his attention in a practice or performance. It is said of him that when teaching “The Creation” to the Treherbert Choir, he had, learnt off by heart the first two chapters of Genesis, and would recite it to the choir before commencing to sing. He then would explain the composer’s ideas as conveyed m the music adapted to the words, and he would always have the history and circumstances of any piece that would be sung by the choir. In his time, undoubtedly he was a conductor who stood head and shoulders above his compeers. He would always have his own ideas, and what appeared strange was he could rarely have a conductor to agree with him, and yet when it came to competitions. He would invariably prove successful; and to that and his originality a great deal of his success was attributed. It is said that he conducted the Crystal Palace orchestra in a masterly manner, which was a surprise even to his best friends, and especially so when it is considered that Mr Proudman, a more experienced orchestral conductor, failed to do so in his first attempt, and had to re-commence. Without hesitation can it be said that Wales has never seen such a choral conductor as Caradog. He was also always kind, always willing to assist any person or persons in need. By his death a gap has been caused at home, in society, and ill musical circles, and it is very doubtful whether his place will ever be filled.

Griffith Rhys Jones Caradoc 1834 - 1897

Treorchy Hotel (picture courtesy of RCTCBC)

Caradog in America

In August, 1893, Caradog, accompanied by Mrs Jones, paid a visit to America in order to be present at the Great World’s Fair Eisteddfod. His reception at the hands of admiring compatriots in the States was of a most hospitable and enthusiastic description and it was in after years very interesting to listen to the dear old veteran as he related the experiences of that memorable visit. A most interesting souvenir of the voyage is the diary kept by Mr Jones, especially as it shows his keen powers of observation, and sense of humour. The incidents he relates are full of charm.

The most tumultuous scene at the World’s Fair Eisteddfod (stated the creator “of Daily Free Press” at the time) occurred on the entrance of the famous Caradog who is the most picturesque figure in modern Welsh annals. He it is probably more than any one person, to whom the Welsh people owe their phenomenal musical development. When the great leader entered the Festival Hall he was accorded a reception that any king might have envied. The multitude arose and sang and cheered in the most rhapsodical manner, and it was many minutes before order was restored.

Caradog was naturally very much gratified at the outcome of the choral contest, and expressed his feelings in the following touching letter to Mr Tom Stephens, the conductor of the successful choir:

“My very dear friend, it is with feelings of the most intense joy and pride that I congratulate you on your triumphant victory at the World’s Fair International Eisteddfod. In all my varied experience as a conductor and adjudicator, I have never heard a performance that contained all the elements of choral excellence in so high a degree as that noble effort which won the first prize on Tuesday. I feel I have been amply repaid for a long and tedious voyage across the Atlantic in witnessing this superb triumph of the art of Old Wales. Caradog is growing old, but he feels that his mantle is falling on worthy shoulders, and so long as Tom Stephens lives, Wales will never be without a leader to lead her musical hosts to victory.”
G. R. Jones (Caradog)

Caradog and the Ladies Choir

A little over three years ago Caradog initiated a movement for the formation of a Ladies’ Choir in Pontypridd, and for some time was its conductor. After giving a grand concert in conjunction with the Caradog Glee Society at the Town Hall, he relinquished the post of conductor (through failing health) to Mr T. H. Maddocks, who up to this time had been indefatigable in his exertions to assist Caradog in forming the choir. The foundation having been already well laid, it was left to Mr T. H. Maddocks, with kindly assistance from the former conductor, to foster the organisation which has made such rapid strides in our midst. The name of Caradog will always be kindly remembered and revered by members of the Ladies’ Choir and those who worked with him in the early days of the choir’s history. Tile subsequent history of the Pontypridd Ladies’ Choir is well known, and the whole of their successes can be attributed in a great degree to their early thorough training by the veteran Prince of Conductors.

The Prince of Welsh Choirmasters a remarkable career

Caradog is dead! The news of the demise of Mr Griffith Rhys Jones, the world famed Welsh choral conductor, comas with great suddenness, and will be received with a thrill of sorrow by all Welshmen. Caradog had for some years retired from active business, and on the 11th of March, 1896, was stricken down with a severe illness, suffering from disease of the heart and dropsy. From time to time he improved, and last summer was able to go to the seaside for a change. It was, however, feared that his days were numbered, and the family were prepared for the end at any moment. He was under the constant attention of Dr. Jenkins, Pontypridd, and everything that medical skill could do was done, for he was visited on two occasions by Sir Richard Quinn and Dr. Broadbent, who journeyed from London to see the patient. Last Saturday evening a change for the worse occurred, and Dr. Jenkins was speedily summoned. Caradog remained unconscious for three-quarters of an hour, and he passed peacefully away at half-past six the same night in his residence, Brynhyfryd, Pontypridd, aged 63. Mrs Jones, the widow (Caradog’s second wife), and only son, Mr John Griffith Jones (a partner in the firm of Messrs Jenkins and Jones, chartered accountants, Westgate street, Cardiff), Miss Price, a niece of Mrs Jones, and the nurse, Miss Pritchard, stood by the death bed.

The news quickly spread, and much sympathy was expressed with the sorrowing family. It may be mentioned that Caradog’s only brother died in Australia a few years ago. Caradog, who was interested in the Rhondda Valley Breweries, was popular wherever he was known, and at one time after his brilliant victory with the Welsh Choral Union at the Crystal Palace in July, 1873 his name was a household word throughout the Principality. He was one of the most genial of men, happy and pleasant at repartee, generous of heart to a degree, and at all times a delightful companion, his fund of anecdotes and his inimitable way of narrating them, always keeping the company in a merry mood. Wales deplores the loss of the most famous of its choral conductors, who had done as much, if not more, than any living man towards the improvement and advance of choral music in Wales, and especially on the Eisteddfod stage. During his residence at Pontypridd, Caradog evinced a great deal of interest in musical matters, and formed the orchestra that took part in the National Eisteddfod at Pontypridd.

The death of “Caradog.” Arrangements for the funeral

Some alterations have been made in the arrangements for the funeral of the veteran conductor, “Caradog,” and as the greatest interest is taken in the matter among what may be termed the musical community, it may be as well to explain in detail what is now proposed to be done. The funeral will leave the house at 12 o’clock noon on Thursday for St. Catherine’s Church, Pontypridd, where one service will be held, from which the procession will wend its way by road to Aberdare, starting at 12.45. When Aberdare Cemetery is reached, the cortege will go direct to the graveside. There will be no service in the cemetery chapel, but at the grave. It should be added that a special train has been secured to run from the Rhondda Valleys to Pontypridd and Aberdare about fifteen minutes before the ordinary train.

Mr. Rees Evans, of Aberdare, wrote on Monday to Mr. J. G. Jones, the son, stating that the Aberdare choirs would be massed together to meet the funeral in Commercial Street, where they would sing “Lausanne” and other Welsh hymns. Mr. T. H. Maddox, Pontypridd, offered the services of the Pontypridd Ladies’ Choir and the Glamorgan Choristers. Mr. Tom Stephens, Treorky, waited upon the family on Monday evening and offered his services, and to him was entrusted the whole of the musical arrangements, so that he on Tuesday went to Aberdare to consult with Mr Rees Evans.

Griffith Rhys Jones Caradoc 1834 - 1897

Commercial Street, Aberdare (Picture courtesy of RCTCBC)

“Caradog” Laid to Rest. National Tribute to his Memory
Representative Attendance of Musicians,
Impressive Singing by the United Choir

On Thursday the funeral of the renowned Welsh choir-leader, “Caradog,” took place at Aberdare Cemetery. Everywhere at Pontypridd, en route to Aberdare; and at the latter town itself were evidences of the popular sympathy with the family of the deceased in their bereavement and the sense of loss all experience at the departure of “Caradog” from among the living.

The day was marked by lowering clouds and general gloom and a cold breeze blew, but, with the exception of a small shower which fell when the cortege entered Aberdare, the day was rainless. Punctually at twelve o’clock the coffin was conveyed from Brynhyfryd, Pontypridd, and placed in the hearse, drawn by four fine horses, and followed by many mourning coaches. Into those the family and invited friends entered, and the journey to St. Catherine’s Church, Pontypridd, commenced. All business in the town had been suspended earlier than usual on that day, which is the day or the half-holiday. All the shutters were up and blinds drawn, as a token of the respect for the dead choir-leader. The streets en route to the church were lined with spectators, who mournfully viewed the coffin, visible through the glass panels of the hearse. It was carried into the church and placed near the choir. Contrasted with the usual floral wreaths which now generally are the accompaniment of the ark of the dead, as a coffin is called in Welsh, the absence of floral wreaths on this occasion gave an unusual appearance of severe and Puritanical simplicity to the senile.

This seemed enhanced by the somewhat cold appearance of the church, whose windows, even the chancel one, are without a bit of coloured glass of any kind. There were not many of the five hundred choristers of the Crystal Palace event of 1873 present. We noticed only two in the church, namely. Mr Richard Rogers, once a prominent tradesman of the town, now retired. He wore the commemorative medal of that event. The other was Madame Williams-Penn, who in 1873 was the very youngest of the “Cor Mawr” on that occasion. This popular vocalist was, to the end of his life, a great favourite as a singer with “Caradog.” The coffin was met in front of the western door of the church by the Vicar of Pontypridd, the Rev. James Thomas (curate), and Precentor Lewis (vicar of Llantwit Fardre), and with them were other clergymen, including the Rector of Glyntaff, without their robes. The proceedings commenced by the singing of Cardinal Newman’s wonderful hymn, namely, “Lead, kindly Light.” Prayers were read by the Rev. James Thomas, and Precentor William Lewis (vicar of Ystradyfodwg) read the usual chapter from the Corinthians. Then the hymn “Ever with the Lord” was sung, and the service then came to a close.

Griffith Rhys Jones Caradoc 1834 - 1897

Because Mrs Jones the widow; although a Kymric lady, not being familiar with the language of Wales, the service here was conducted entirely in the English language. The coffin, preceded by the clergy and the robed choristers, was now returned to the hearse, and the start was made by road for Aberdare. At the same time a special train left the station for the same destination. It had been intended for the local choir to sing through Pontypridd in front of the hearse, but this had to be abandoned, owing to want of time, and the town was traversed in silence, and everywhere were seen faces bearing expression of the deepest sorrow. The journey by road to Aberdare was uneventful, and the town was reached a little before three o’clock. Here the cortege came into first contact with, the genuine Welsh element in its native aspects. Here the, sound of Welsh music- Welsh hymnology was heard like the boom of the sea breaking on the Glamorgan coast.

In front walked the ministers of various denominations, and then the Lodge of Foresters assembled at the Lord Windsor Inn, Mill Street, with which “Caradog” was associated, and with which he kept up his connection to the last. All the way to the cemetery, a distance or more than a mile from the centre of the town, the marvellous Welsh hymn singing continued. It occupied upwards of an hour to cover the distance, and on all sides blinds were drawn and shutters up. At just a quarter past four o’clock, literally “amid the encircling gloom,” all that was mortal of “Caradog” was lowered into a new vault at the eastern end of the cemetery.

The body was enclosed in a massive shell of oak, the outer coffin being of panelled oak with heavy brass furniture, the inscription being:

Griffith Rees Jones
Born November 21st, 1834.
Died December 4th, 1897.

Witnessing this sad episode was an immense concourse of people. (Lead, Kindly Light” was sung. On the right, hand side of the entrance to the vault stood, in their robes, the Vicar of Pontypridd, the Vicar of Glyntaf and the Rev. James Thomas (curate). The two vicars officiated, and this was succeeded by the singing of Welsh hymns and all present, appeared to join in the singing, so that the volume of music was a memorable one. This brought the proceedings to a close. The choral conductor was Mr Tom Stephens. The undertakers were Messrs. John Evans and Co., drapers, Pontypridd. The coffin was remarkably massive one of solid oak with an oak shell. It was panelled and heavily mounted with brass furniture. It was made by Mr David Griffiths, Pontypridd.

The hymn-sheet bore the inscription on the vault read “Cambria mourns her noble leader.”

Griffith Rhys Jones Caradoc 1834 - 1897

The grave of Caradog

Directly after the funeral a meeting of the members of the Cor Mawr and others was held at the Long Room of the Temperance Hall, by invitation sent out by Aberdare members. It was somewhat of a coincidence that the meeting was held in the very room where it was first decided that a choir should be formed to compete for the Crystal Palace Challenge Cup, and where Caradog was selected conductor. Mr Daniel Griffiths, ironmonger, Aberdare, was elected chairman, and Mr. W. J. Evans, the conductor of the Aberdare Choral Union, was elected secretary pro. Tem.

Mr Rees Jones, Landore said he had asked the Aberdare friends to call the meeting because he thought it would be very nice to meet together once more. They belonged to an army that had done more than any other to raise the reputation of Wales as a musical nation. (Hear. hear). Before the Crystal Palace victory “Little Wales” was “‘Cymru Gwlad y Gan only on their own hearths, but today the lame of Welsh music was known throughout not only England, but the nations of the Continent, and the whole civilized world. They had had in Caradog a unique leader, one who, like the other Caradog (Caractacus,) had no equal, and music had sustained a great loss in his death.

Dr. Joseph Parry thought they should do something tangible to commemorate the memory of their lost leader. He thought Welsh musicians should fraternise more.

Messrs. Tom Stephens, J. Jones (Ap Caradog; Landore; D. T. Sims, J.P. Neath; Taliesin Hopkins, John Thomas, Ferndale; Rhys, Evans, D. Davies, Swansea; M. 0. Jones, Treherbert; Dewi Alaw, Pontypridd; and others having spoken, a vote of condolence was passed with the family, and a resolution was unanimously passed to subscribe for a memorial to the lost leader. The question of the form the memorial shall take was left to another meeting, but the general feeling was in favour of a scholarship. The following were elected an Executive Committee: Messrs. Jenkin Howell, Aberdare Rees Evans. Aberdare; Tom Stephens, Rhondda: Eos Dar, Mardy; and W. J. Evans, hon. sec.

On July 10th, 1920 a bronze statue of the famous conductor, executed by Sir W. Goscombe John, R.A., representing Caradog at the age of 40, was unveiled at Victoria Square, Aberdare, by Lord Aberdare. In the assembled multitude were 120 members of the Choir.

Griffith Rhys Jones Caradoc 1834 - 1897

A memorial to the departed leader

Death of Caradog’s Wife 29.04.1879

The death of Mr., Jones, the wife of Caradog, the celebrated choir leader of South Wales, is announced. The melancholy event took place at Treherbert on Monday last. Mrs. Jones, like her husband, was a native of Aberdare.

We have been requested to publish the following paragraph: “To the members of the South Wales Choral Union. Fellow members with deep and profound regret to announce the decease of Mrs. Jones, the beloved wife of the veteran Caradog. The funeral will take place on Thursday, the 1st of May, and the corpse will reach Aberdare per the 2.30 train.

We ask you all that possibly can to assemble at Aberdare on that day, as we propose to sing ‘I Wrestle fond Pray’ at the grave. Let all sections have a practice or two before the day; and the members at Aberdare are invited to meet at the Temperance Hall tonight and to, tomorrow. Measures will be adopted to form a procession to meet the funeral. We are confident that a ready response will be made to this our appeal to pay the last tribute to Mrs. Jones.

Yours sincerely, Daniel Griffiths, Rees Evans, William Phillips (Gwilym Cynon) D. Brythonfryn Griffith (general secretary). “Aberdare 28th April, 1879.”

Griffith Rhys Jones Caradoc 1834 - 1897

The grave of Caradog’s wife