Born at Sychbant, in the parish of Llandysul, Cardiganshire, 12 June 1834. A posthumous child, he suffered great hardship; almost before he had shed his milk teeth he was sent out to work, and between the ages of 9 and 10 he spent the hours of daylight breaking stones by the roadside and continued to work far into the night plaiting rush stools or knitting gloves and stockings. His early formal education consisted of nine months in all, and that in as many as five different schools. At the age of 12 he was apprenticed to a tailor and was admitted to membership of Horeb church. When his apprenticeship was finished he became a peripatetic tailor, but in 1853 turned towards the industrial areas of Glamorgan and opened his own business at Pen-tyrch, where he became a member of Bethlehem chapel. His outspoken championship of temperance made him unpopular and he moved to Blaina, Monmouth, where, within a year, he began to preach in Berea chapel. In 1857 he was admitted to the Bala Independent College, and in 1860, on the advice of Ioan Pedr (John Peter), went on a visit to Germany. In 1862 he was admitted to the Presbyterian College at Carmarthen; but, at the end of his course there, as he did not receive a call, he returned to Germany, this time as a student at Marburg University, where he graduated M.A. and Ph.D. (July 1869).
In January 1870 he was ordained minister of Mostyn church, Flintshire, where he spent the rest of his long life. All the Mostyn mines were flooded in 1884, and in order to relieve the burden on the church he went on a tour to the U.S.A., but, although conditions had not improved, he returned to the church.
He was a diligent, hard-working man, possessing boundless energy and considerable talent. He took a prominent part in founding new churches in the district, and fought strenuously to counteract the Roman Catholicism which was so strong in that area. He was a regular contributor to the press, and on three occasions fell foul of the law of libel; this resulted in damages against him to the tune of £1,200, but, as he said, ‘the public paid every penny of this.’ He edited Y Celt (1881-4). He published an annual, Llawlyfr yr Annibynwyr, which by 1891 had a circulation of 5,000, and a number of books and pamphlets: Cofiant y Parch. S. Griffiths, Horeb; Cofiant y Y Tri Brawd o Lanbrynmair; Oes a Gwaith y Prif Athraw M. D. Jones; Ein Hen Philistiaid; Y Dydd Hwn; Gargantua; Oriel Coleg Caerfyrddin; etc.
He was greatly interested in the land question and could not restrain himself when discussing landlordism. Although his life was spent in an industrial area, and during the period of the industrial revolution at that, he was little concerned with the problems of industry. ‘The land for the people’ was his motto, and he maintained that if only the land question were settled everything else would fall into place; yet he seems to have had doubts about the land nationalisation which some of the political parties were to discuss at a later date. Such was his enthusiasm that he travelled over considerable parts of Wales with a van, holding meetings to promote the movement; for all that, his crusade had no effect. He also published a monthly, Cwrs y Byd, which continued to circulate for about fourteen years from 1891. In the controversy over Bala Independent College he acted as aide-de-camp to M. D. Jones, and his combative nature found admirable opportunity in this debate. He was, unquestionably, an odd character, but his genuineness and the honesty of his convictions cannot be disparaged. He had an independent outlook untinged by any suggestion of hypocrisy. In spite of all his services, his denomination did not see fit to extend to him any of the customary honours. He died 8? May 1922 and was buried on the 12th in Pen-rhewl cemetery, Mostyn.
Published date: 1959
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