Rev E. Stephen 1825 – 1885


The death of the Rev. Edward Stephen, familiarly known in Welsh literary and musical circles as “Tanymarian,” which, as reported in the Mercury, occurred on Sunday at his residence near Bangor, was not unanticipated, although up to a fortnight ago Dr. Richards and Dr. Williams, his medical advisers, had given favourable hopes of the recovery of their patient, who was suffering from bronchitis, which was greatly aggravated by the prevalent easterly winds, congestion of the lungs and liver complaint.

In most national movements for many years past Tanymarian was a prominent figure, especially at eisteddfodau. He was born at Ffestiniog in 1825, and was apprenticed to a tailor at Bangor. This employment being uncongenial to his taste, he found means for entering at Bala Independent College, and in 1847 he was called to his first pastorate, that of Penmaenmawr, in succession to Mr Puart. With that indomitable energy and perseverance characteristic of his future career, in three years-time he had cleared a heavy debt existing upon the church, improved the Sunday Schools, and added greatly to the membership of the congregation. Whilst in charge at Penmaenmawr he composed the oratorio “The Sea of Tiberias,” a composition well-known in Welsh musical circles.

In 1856 he accepted a call to the pastorate of the Carmel and Bethlehem chapels at Blaenllechid, near Bangor, and in 1882 he had the honour of presiding over the Welsh Congregational Union at Swansea, the subject of his presidential address being “Welsh Fire.” His compilation of Welsh hymns is in al- most universal use in the Congregational chapels in the Principality. He was politically regarded as a strong Liberal, but at the election of 1874 he gave offence by his prominent advocacy of the cause of the Honourable Douglas Pennant, the eldest son of his landlord, Lord Penrhyn, who was returned in opposition to Mr Jones-Parry, now the member for the Carnarvon Boroughs, and a very strongly worded resolution was passed at a district meeting of the Congregational Association.

Thereafter he took no active interest in politics, and the kindly feeling manifested to- wards him by the denomination and the smoothing of whatever difficulties had arisen with respect to politics was testified by the addresses which were presented to him by the members of the two chapels on the occasion of his completing a period of exactly a quarter of a century. By Liberals and Conservatives, Churchmen and Dissenters, his memory will be held in kindly regard as a pleasant, genial, open-minded, large-hearted character, all accomplished pulpit and platform orator, and a man who was held in universal respect and esteem. He leaves a widow, a daughter, and two sons. The funeral will take place this afternoon at Bethlehem chapel, about three miles from Bangor, and will be a public one.

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