Hugh Hughes “Tegai” 1805 – 1864

Independent minister and man of letters


Hugh Hughes was born at Llandygai, Caernarvonshire in, 1805; he was the son of Thomas and Barbara Hughes, two Anglesey people who were ardent Independents. When the Cororion Independent chapel at Tregarth, Llandygai, was closed down, he joined the Wesleyans at Shiloh, Tregarth, and became a lay preacher.

He never attended a day school and the only education he received was at the Cororion and Shiloh Sunday schools. He was only a boy when he went to work at the Bethesda slate quarries, where he became a first-rate workman. He read hard, studied diligently and his membership of the Bethesda Cymreigyddion Society taught him a great deal.

Although he was in full agreement with the Wesleyan doctrines he did not approve of their system of church government and he, therefore, re-joined the Independents. He accepted a call to be minister of Rhoslan and later officiated as a minister at Manchester and at Chwilog. At the end of his term at Chwilog he set up his own printing press at Pwllheli where a penny newspaper, Yr Arweinydd, and several of his literary works were printed and published.

The Welsh Wesleyan Methodist was formed around 1858, by 25 to 30 persons who went from Salem Chapel, they held their meetings in “Bethel Bach” Heolyfelin. Towards the end of year 1859 they decided to build Bethel Chapel and in May 1860 an agreement was signed between the deacons and John Edwards and David Jones to carry out the work. David Jones, mason £207 and John Edwards, carpenter £540 total £747.

Bethel Chapel, Gadlys, Aberdare
Picture courtesy of RCTCBC
The chapel was completed on December 25, 26 1860, the first minister was Rev Hugh Hughes; he came in 1859 as pastor when the number of members were few. Through his efforts numbers increased. In October 1863 he was struck with paralysis, this affected his speech and he lay ill for several weeks. On Sunday evening 14th of December 1864 while preaching he had a second attack of paralysis, he remained unconscious until Thursday when he died at the age of 59.

His books include: Gramadeg Cymraeg, sef Ieithiadur Athronyddol; Bwrdd y Bardd ; Telyn y Saint; Ioan yn Ynys Patmos (awdl); Gramadeg Barddoniaeth ; Agoriad Gwybodaeth (a book on composition and public speaking); Adolygiad ar Draethawd Eliseus Cole ar Benarglwyddiaeth; essays on Llywodraeth Foesol ; Annibyniaeth; Olyniaeth Apostolaidd ; Moses a Colenso; Cydwybod; Y Bedydd Cristionogol; and Dawn ar Bob Dyn.

Funeral of the Rev. H. Hughes, (Tegai) 17/12/1864

On Monday last the remains of the Rev. H. Hughes (Tegai,) were laid to rest in the Aberdare Cemetery. The funeral was one of the most vastly attended we have ever witnessed in the town. Upwards of thirty ministers of different denominations joined the funeral cortege, and a large number of bards and Welsh literati from various parts of the Principality were also in attendance.

The choir of Mr Hughes’s chapel, joined by the throng, sung several hymns which were impressively given out by the Rev Stephen Davies. The procession halted at Bethel Chapel, where, after the Rev. W. Williams, Nebo, had read and offered a fervent prayer, a most impressive Welsh discourse was delivered by the Rev W. Caledfryn Williams, of Groeswen, from Luke xx. 36, “Neither can they die anymore: For they are equal unto the Angels, and are the children of God, being the children of the resurrection.” He said “Our brother, friend is not dead”. He has only been divested of his earthly garment. When I saw him last he was alive, and he is alive at this hour. His visible remains are dead, and are no more of service to him, but his soul lives. We have the assurance of the Redeemer himself that such is the case, tor he said “Neither can they die anymore.” It is a hard thing to preach at the funeral of a dear friend or a relation owing to this painful circumstance, and also to the time at our disposal being short, I shall only endeavour to say a few words of condolence to the widow and the friends who have suffered the loss of a relation and friend dear and near to them.

Our departed friend held up his arms hundreds of times in this place, but he is now dead. This is a short word but very significant and comprehensive. It does not mean annihilation, and to place this construction upon it would be an attempt to lower the character of the Supreme Being. The soul, that living portion of man which does not partake of that inherent nature of all material substances called mortality, cannot be annihilated. Again when we consider the progressive capacity of the soul, an instance of which we find in our deceased friend, who laboured hard for many years to reach his last high standard of intellectual attainments, we are naturally led to presume that annihilation is incompatible with the character of our Wise Creator. Many ministers and others have died before, but they have all gone to a place where there will be no temptation, no enemies, no trouble. Very lately I was remarking to a friend that the old ministers have nearly all disappeared. The white haired ministers of the last generation have now became scarce, and on all hands we see the strange faces of the present age.

Although we are told by Paul and other inspired writers in the holy scripture, that our future state will be infinitely happier than the present, we shudder at the idea of being deprived of our houses of clay. The grave has always been, and it is likely to remain a gloomy and dismal subject of contemplation to mankind, therefore let us turn our thoughts for a few moments to a brighter theme-the day on which the saints shall be raised in the image of their beloved. The Lord Jesus said “I am the resurrection and the life: he that believeth in me though he were dead yet shall he live.” These encouraging words light up the dark neighbourhood of the cavern of death up to this day. None can regard death with pleasure, for he is a terrible enemy. He is also our last enemy. Our dear brother may have had enemies, but this was the last. His tabernacle of clay became dilapidated and death stepped in, severed the connection between s mi and body, and the soul once liberated, fled straightway home to immortality.

I received a letter from him after his illness in which he stated a wish that if he were taken away suddenly by another illness of the same character as that which he was so subject to, he would like to be buried in the churchyard of Groeswen and in the I same letter he stated in a composed and deliberate manner that the state of his feeling then with regard to his death, was that he wished it to be instantaneous and his wish has almost literally been verified.

He is gone the way of all the earth. Everybody has his face in the same direction. In death all worldly connections are lost. Our brother’s attachment to his family and his friends was very strong and sincere. I knew him for the last 35 years, and I proved his friendship to be of the most unfeigned character. He was passionately fond of his family, but this circumstance forced him to relinquish his hold upon the dearest objects of his affection for a time we trust he and they will meet again in the realms above where there will be no more pain and parting and we hope none of the children will turn out wicked and irreligious.

Now we are about to consign the remains of our brother to the earth. There is no other place for them. Old mother earth mercifully opens her arms and calls to her children to her lap to lie down until the blast of the Arch-angel, A great difference generally exists between the funerals of men without and men with families. The former are for the most part dry ones, but here today we are going to bury a father, a husband, a minister, and a public man. Death is continually at work, and he is the end of all; knowledge, wisdom, eloquence, usefulness, everything terminates with him. We view the burial of the public man as a vessel full of precious treasure dashed against a rock. We shall neither hear his voice nor see him in his productions from the press again. There is no work, nor device, nor knowledge in the grave.

The death of the Christian cannot be looked upon as the death of many men of the world. The lives of many public men have not un-frequently tended to mislead others and die examples they have left behind them had a corrupting and damning influence but our brother could say, like the Apostle, that he never corrupted anyone. It is important for us all, then, that if we do not do much good in the world that we do nothing calculated to mislead our fellow men and debase the rising and future generations. The death of a pastor, a missionary of God and a servant of the Lord, is a loss to the age morally and religiously, but I am happy to say they will not die again, for sin, the cause of death has been removed and we have every reason to believe that our friend has experienced the cleansing of regeneration and the renewing of the Holy Ghost. His soul, freed from depravity, fled to its own element-to God. Having vanquished his foes be shall be fed and he led unto living fountains of water and God shall wipe away all his tears. By this time he has seen John the Evangelist, Paul and the other Apostles and the prophets. Therefore he need be in no doubt as to any mysterious passages in the Book of Revelation, the Epistle to the Romans, or the Book of the Prophet Ezekiel. He has now every facility he could wish for to enable him to study the contents of God’s Holy Book, and more he can increasingly admire the divine plan of redemption and free grace.

Grave of Hugh Hughes (Tegai)
Grave of Hugh Hughes (Tegai)
May this also be our lot, friends, and may we constantly pray that we may die the death of the just, “They are equal unto the Angels” as regards their moral excellence and they derive their happiness from the same fountain of joy. We are lower than the Angels here, but in this passage we have the word of the Son of God that we shall one day be equal to those who rejoiced when the Almighty founded the corner stones of creation, those who sang their Christmas song on the fields of Bethlehem, who offered their services in the garden of Gethsemane, on the cross, and on the morning of the third day.  He his one to the middle of this grand Choir, to join in the anthem, Thou art worthy, oh Lord to receive glory and honor and power. Let strive then to attain the honour of joining this glorious band. The choir that sang on the occasion of the return of the children of Israel from bondage in and the choirs that have sung on important public occasions in our day must, have been very numerous, grand, and imposing in appearance, but all of them as tie as the large festivals in the Crystal Palace together are infinitely too insignificant to be compared for one moment with the heavenly choir which is composed of hundreds of millions, yes, and many more, for they are a multitude that no one can number, perpetually praising and glorifying God and the Lamb. May God bless us and take us one and all fit to join their number. To consign the remains of our dear friend to the grave, then ought to be a pleasing rather than a sad duty especially when we consider the encouraging facts before alluded to, and the misery he would have to under-go while gradually pining his life away under his afflicting disease in this world.

The circumstances of his death involves loss and gain loss, to his widow, his children, the church, and the age. but gain to himself. Although the servants die, the Redeemer lives. He said before he ascended, “Behold I shall be with you always to the end of the world.” Pray much for his presence, brethren, to remain with you in the absence of your minister, and invoke the great Head of the church to bless you with know- ledge and understanding.

After the service, the funeral proceeded on its way to the Cemetery. The Rev. Mr. Howells, of Ynysau, Merthyr at the request of the family of the deceased, offered up a short impressive prayer over the grave, and there, close to the last resting place of Alaw Goch, the earth closed over all that was mortal of the once eloquent teacher, kind pastor, profound logician, and eminent Bard, Hugh Tegai.