LEWIS, EVAN (1818 - 1901), dean of Bangor

Name: Evan Lewis
Date of birth: 1818
Date of death: 1901
Parent: Evan Lewis
Gender: Male
Occupation: dean of Bangor
Area of activity: Religion
Author: Robert Thomas Jenkins

a member of a family which is very interesting on account of its connection with the Oxford Movement. His father was EVAN LEWIS of Llanilar, Cardiganshire, a cadet of the Lewises of Dinas Cerdin, Llandysul. The father had a brother, DAVID LEWIS (1778 - 1859), who was born at Llanddeiniol, Cardiganshire, and went up from Ystrad Meurig school to Magdalen Hall, Oxford, in 1807, graduated in 1812, and proceeded D.D. in 1826; after serving in various London parishes he kept a grammar school at Twickenham, where he died 4 January 1859 (Glan Menai, Enwogion Sir Aberteifi). Evan Lewis of Llanilar's elder son was DAVID LEWIS (1814 - 1915), cleric, afterwards Roman Catholic. He went up to Jesus College, Oxford, in March 1834, at 19, graduated in 1837, became Fellow (1839-46) of his college, was dean in 1843, and vice-principal 1845-6. He was also Newman's curate at S. Mary's, and with him went over to Rome. He became immersed in canon law and hagiography, and from 1860 till his death in 1895 lived at Arundel.

The rest of this note will deal with Evan Lewis of Llanilar's younger son Evan, born (after the father's death) 18 November 1818. He went to Ystrad Meurig, then to a school at Aberystwyth, and afterwards to his uncle David's school at Twickenham. In April 1838 he went to Jesus College, Oxford, graduating in 1841; he was a notable oarsman, and under his captaincy the college boat went head of the river. He was ordained by Bethell of Bangor in 1842, and served curacies at Llanddeusant, Anglesey (1842-3), Llanfaes and Penmon (1843-5), Llanfihangel Ysgeifiog (1845-6), and Llanllechid (1847-59) under J. H. Cotton, whose daughter was Lewis's first wife. In 1859 he was given the important living of Aberdare, remaining there till 1866, when he became rector of Dolgelley. He was appointed in 1884 dean of Bangor, and died there 24 November 1901; he was buried at Llandygai. With the support of bishop Bethell (the only bishop in Wales at that date who favoured the Tractarians), and in the company of men like Morris Williams (Nicander), Griffith Arthur Jones, and Philip Constable Ellis (all three separately noticed), he strove vigorously and successfully to propagate the principles and practices of the Oxford Movement in his diocese. At Llanllechid, he swept away the old custom of substituting contemporary hymns for the ‘Te Deum’ and the ‘Magnificat’; he insisted on chants and upon choral singing; so too at Dolgelley he introduced Gregorian chanting. While still a curate, he took part in the vigorous controversy known as the ‘Bangor debate,’ speaking and writing in defence of ‘Catholic’ views, against Nonconformists like John Phillips (1810 - 1867) and William Davies (1820 - 1875) — one of the products of this debate was Lewis's book Yr Olyniaeth Apostolaidd, 1851. He read a paper on ‘The Church in Wales’ at the Church congress at Swansea in 1879. He was a zealous Welshman, the founder of S. Mary's Welsh church at Aberdare, and the translator of a number of hymns into Welsh.


Published date: 1959

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