a native of Llanedy parish, Carmarthenshire, educated at Carmarthen Academy. In 1712 he was ordained minister of Troed-rhiw-dalar and Llanwrtyd. Thence he removed in 1724 to the pastorate of Cwm-y-glo, between Merthyr Tydfil and Aberdare; it was a joint pastorate with the distant congregation of Cefn Arthen near Llandovery (they had a common origin in the ‘Brecknockshire church’ of Henry Maurice); further, they were mixed congregations of Calvinists and Arminians. Davies's senior (Arminian) colleague was Roger Williams (1667 - 1730), who lived at Cefn Arthen (he had been in office since 1698, and upon his death in 1730 the union of Cefn Arthen and Cwm-y-glo came to an end, but not the doctrinal division within both congregations). Davies was not only a Calvinist but belonged to the new ‘missionary’ type of Dissenter. He itinerated vigorously in north Glamorgan and Monmouth (Edmund Jones, History of Aberystruth, 99, and diary for 1773), and on the inception of the Methodist movement welcomed it warmly, inviting Howel Harris to preach in the Glamorgan hill-country; there are two letters of his (138 and 145, both of 1739) in the Trevecka collection at N.L.W. In 1738 the Arminian wing at Cwm-y-glo chose a well-to-do local farmer, Richard Rees of Gwernllwyn Uchaf, as Davies's co-pastor (he died 1749). Relations between the two men and their followers became increasingly difficult, and the ‘left wing’ seceded in 1747 to form the congregation (now Unitarian) of Cefn-coed-cymer. Owing to the expiry of the lease, Davies and his people left their historic meeting-house at Cwm-y-glo and bought (February 1749) the site at Merthyr Tydfil on which Ynysgau chapel stands; and in 1750 Davies was joined as co-pastor by his son Samuel Davies. In 1751 the Aberdare members of Ynysgau hived off to form a new church. The younger Davies soon revealed Arminian tendencies, and the tale of Cwm-y-glo was repeated at Ynysgau. James Davies failed to control the situation, became well-nigh friendless, and died at Gwernllwyn Isaf, 29 April 1760. The diaries of Philip David of Penmain under 3 May, have a rueful reference to his former great popularity and the disesteem into which he had fallen through instability and time-serving; and Edmund Jones (15 August 1773) refers tersely to him as ‘an apostate’ — it would also seem from this passage that a daughter of James Davies's had married David Williams (1709 - 1784), the minister of Watford and Cardiff.
SAMUEL DAVIES was at Carmarthen with Thomas Morgan (1720 - 1799), who speaks most highly of him and attended his ordination in 1746 to a pastorate in Wiltshire. His defection to Arminianism (or Arianism) provoked unfriendly comment in the diaries of Philip David and of Edmund Jones, but it is clear that he was held in great esteem and affection at Ynysgau. He died 18 March 1781 -the year of his birth has not been discovered, nor that of his father's.
Published date: 1959
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