Born 26 April 1873 at Treherbert, Glamorganshire, but of Cardiganshire antecedents. He was trained as a teacher under M. O. Jones, and throughout his life had the characteristics of a good teacher, even after becoming (1892) a preacher. From Trevecka he went in 1897 to Aberystwyth, and graduated there in 1900 with honours in Welsh. He became pastor at Abercynon (he was ordained in 1902), going thence to Water Street church, Carmarthen, where he remained till 1906; he married a daughter of one of his predecessors, John Wyndham Lewis (they had one daughter). At Carmarthen he took a leading part in the foundation (1905) of the Carmarthenshire Antiquarian Society, and was for twenty-one years editor of its Transactions. But he left in 1906 to become one of the tutors of the C.M. preparatory school at Trevecka. He remained there only till 1909, but this short period, on his own testimony, turned him from a general antiquarian into a specialist in Methodist history; for the documents preserved at Trevecka (but in shocking condition) aroused in him an interest which was maintained throughout his subsequent pastorates, at Ton (Rhondda), 1909-20, at Pen-llwyn near Aberystwyth, 1920-9, and at Water Street, Carmarthen (again), 1929-30.
In 1914 he was made secretary of the C.M. Historical Committee; this led in 1916 to the foundation of the C.M. Historical Society, and the inception of its Journal (Cylch. Cymd. Hanes M.C.), which he edited jointly with J. H. Davies and Richard Bennett for four years, becoming its sole editor in 1920. Appointed ‘Davies Lecturer’ in 1922, he took as his theme ‘The Trevecka Letters’ — a volume bearing this title was published after his death, in 1932; it contains ‘prolegomena’ to the study of the letters, an elaborate inventory of them, and three essays exemplifying their value as historical sources; the work, in its unpublished form, had already obtained for him (1929) the degree of Ph.D.
No one man has rendered so great service to students of Welsh Methodist history. His very limitations were of advantage, for a man of livelier and more imaginative temperament would have shrunk from the dreary business of deciphering, cataloguing, indexing, and so forth, which he so willingly undertook. Patient, orderly, indefatigable in settling minute points, he has saved other researchers endless labour and time, notably by his Inventory already mentioned, his laborious Itinerary of Howel Harris, and his printed bibliographies. Looking at his long list of contributions to the Journal, and also to the Carmarthenshire Society's Transactions (list of his articles on pp. 307-10 of The Trevecka Letters), it is difficult to remember that the years which produced them were also years of diligent preaching, faithful pastoral work, and strenuous advocacy of improvements in the methods and organization of the Sunday schools in Wales.
Published date: 1959
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