Dafydd Jones

Life in Wales 23.11.1927
Old Lady’s 150 Miles Walk in Clogs
By the Rev. John Humphries, B.A. Rector of Llangan

There are few Welsh-speaking people who have not heard of Dafydd Jones of Llangan, who flourished towards the end of the eighteenth century and the beginning of the nineteenth century. His name was revered especially among the Methodists “stars.” When Howel Harris and David Rowlands, were preaching the “Revival Crusade” Dafydd Jones shared a great deal of their enthusiasm.

He was not unnaturally called “The Methodist Rector,” as his method of propagating the Gospel was similar to that associated with that great denomination.

The son of a farmer who lived in the parish of Llanllwni, Carmarthenshire, he was educated at Carmarthen and ordained by the Bishop of St. David’s. His first curacy was at Llanafan Fawr, Breconshire, which he left for Lleyn, Carnarvon. He returned to Trevethin and Caldicot as assistant curate, and at the latter place his ministry soon impressed the people. His outspoken and fearless preaching, however invoked the displeasure of a powerful faction of the parishioners, so that we find that he accepted a curacy in Wiltshire.

A Renowned Preacher

Here he came into contact with Countess Huntingdon, who was greatly impressed by his implicit character, and sometime later recommended him to the Countess of Dunraven. The latter, as patron, offered him the living of Llangan. He found the standard of religion, education, and morality as a very low ebb, not only in his new parish, but throughout Wales; but he threw his heart and soul into the work as rector and shepherd of the parish.

His renown as a preacher spread far and wide, and soon the little church of Llangan – until now almost unknown and lying in a peaceful locality midway between Cowbridge and Bridgend – became the rendezvous of eager crowds, mostly young men. There, we are told, they were so eager in their thirst, after knowledge that they persuaded the rector to visit certain centres in the surrounding districts and hold Bible classes and devotional meetings in their houses during the week. Such meetings were first at a farmhouse called “Ton-Frigan” and later at another farm called Tresaeson.

These meetings so increased in number and enthusiasm that they culminated on one big monthly meeting or service eon Saturday prior to the communion Sunday, at Llangan Church – was a preparatory meeting for the Eucharist. Then the then noted bard Mr. Thomas Williams, “Bethesda’r Fro), thus describes his impressions:

Un o’r manau byth mi gofia
Gwelais I e gynita gyd,
Yn cyhoedddt Gair y Cymod
I golledig anwir fyd

Iesu’n marw, Iesu’n eiriol
Diwedd byd a boreu’r farn
Oedd ei araith o flaen eanoedd
Wrth hen gapel Tal-y-garn

On the first Sunday in every month the crowd was so large and enthusiastic that they arrived at the quiet little church of Llangan in the early morning and during the period of waiting they would hold a spontaneous service in the churchyard; even the barn close by the utilised for the purpose. At the proper service the church would immediately be filled, and soon there was more outside than inside.

Even today the old inhabitants tell of their parents’ narrations of the wonderful services in that little country church. Thomas Williams again describes the service:

Jones fel angel yn Llanganna
Yn udganu’r Udgorn Mawr
Nes bai’r dorf mewn twym serchiadau
Yn dyrchafu uwch y Llawr.

Of the Holy Communion service he sang:

Minau yno’n un o’r werin
Er mai’r anhdhyngai gyd

Happy and angelic features and a sweet and melodies voice helped Dafydd Jones to attract, almost unconsciously, the fixed attention of even those who had entirely forsaken any shape of religious compunctions and fallen into evil repute.

Service in a Smithy

He started a mission at Pencoed, though this was outside his own parish, bought the land, build a mission, and superintended the service. His fiery zeal to lift his fellow-countrymen and to rouse them from their lethargy commanded widespread attention and already there were low rumblings of the revival soon to come.

On one occasion he arranged a meeting at a smith’s shop, but this crude sanctuary was soon filled, and he mounted a hedge across the road, and under a spreading beech tree preached so eloquently and convincingly that a gang of ruffians, under the leadership of one Jack the Butcher, who had arranged to upset the service, threw down their stone and became most attentive listeners and there and then decided to “turn over a new leaf.”

Old Lady’s Walk from Anglesey

On another occasion his preaching in an open-air meeting in a little town in Anglesey, was so effective that he was implored to prolong his stay. When he was adamant in his decision an old lady was so persistent in her demand for a promise to re-visit Anglesey that he jocularly said to her: “Well, I will when you come to fetch me,” knowing that he was setting practically too difficult a task before her.

A few years later Dafydd Jones was at his rectory at Llangan when his attention was drawn towards the entrance gate, and to his great surprise there he saw the old lady from Anglesey in her clogs, with stick in one hand and a satchel in the other. She had walked 150 miles in her clogs to carry out her mission.

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