Born at Penucha, Caerwys, Flintshire, freehold of his father Edward, and received a classical education at Caerwys and Holywell. Refusing to prepare for holy orders, he did not go on to a university, but joined the Methodists in 1772, and in 1783 began to preach. He had the supervision of societies in Mold (1795-1804), Ruthin (1804-1806), and Denbigh (1809-1820). He married (1) 1795, Elizabeth Jones of Mold, a devout and wealthy woman who died in 1797 leaving him most of her property; (2) 1804, A. Maysmor of Llanelidan; (3) 1806, Mary Lloyd of Llanrwst. In 1784 he met Thomas Charles of Bala, and their close friendship brought him into touch with the religious world outside Wales and with such movements as the Bible Society, the London Missionary Society, and the circulating schools. He influenced Charles's Welsh writing, and his attitude towards the ordination of C.M. exhorters. They were joint editors of the Trysorfa Ysprydol, 1799-1801, drew up the Rules and Design of the … Welsh Methodists, 1801, and corresponded regularly. He wrote Charles's memoir, 1814.
One of the ablest and besteducated leaders of the connexion in North Wales, he was among the first to be ordained in 1811. He was a scholar, a theologian, and a man of historical interests; his Welsh was vigorous, concise, and correct. His autobiography is of great interest, tracing his spiritual pilgrimage and showing the strength and charm of his personality. His literary output was large, and included a translation of Gurnal's Christian in Complete Armour, 1796-1819; a martyrology in Welsh, 1813; and an English and Welsh Dictionary, 1800. He wrote poetry well in the strict metres, and delighted in the work of Dafydd ap Gwilym, as is shown by his cywydd to the thrush, 1793. Many of his hymns are still sung. He took a leading part in the theological controversies of the period and tried, by advocating in books and pamphlets a moderate Calvinism, to steer his denomination between the extremes of Arminianism and High Calvinism. Most of his work was printed in a press which he set up in his house at Ruthin in 1804, took with him to Denbigh, and sold to his printer, Thomas Gee (senior), in 1813. He died at Denbigh, 16 June 1820.
Published date: 1959
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