He was born in 1691, one of the Cefndeuddwr family by Trawsfynydd, a branch of the ancient house of Nannau. He matriculated from Jesus College, Oxford, in 1710, graduated B.A. in 1714, M.A. in 1719; he was made vicar of Clynnog in 1718, and rector of Llanaelhaearn in 1725; Foster adds that he was also canon of Bangor. He was deeply endowed with a fine liberality of spirit, which is not at all surprising when one remembers that his mother was daughter to Richard Edwards of Nanhoron, prominent as a Puritan squire in Restoration times, that his sister Catherine was married to Dr. Knight of Caernarvon, another family with strong nonconformist contacts, and that his wife was one of the Wynns of Wern by Penmorfa, very open-minded in their politics. Nanney became one of the foremost supporters of the circulating schools of Griffith Jones (at Clynnog the school was often held in the parish church, at other times in distant houses on the borders); many of his letters occur in Welch Piety, all testifying to the value of education and some containing good suggestions regarding the lessons to be given, and some loud in their praises of the old schoolmaster Thomas Gough (as Gough had at one time been the teacher of Robert Jones of Rhos-lan, it is natural enough to find the latter's eloquent tribute to Nanney in Drych yr Amseroedd). He drank pretty deeply of the spirit of the Methodist Revival — though he is not included among the Methodist clergymen like Griffiths of Nevern and Jones of Llan-gan — and accounts are given of crowds of people listening to him preach at Clynnog, many coming from adjoining parishes; and a vivid contrast is drawn between the apathy of his early years and the fruitful piety of the days of awakening. He held the lands of Elernion by Llanaelhaearn, a small estate that belonged to his wife's family; but things of this world mattered little to him; according to Robert Jones, he never knew any horse but the one he rode on. His son, also RICHARD NANNEY, was in holy orders (he died in 1812), very different from his father in many respects, but quite as Puritan in his outlook on the sanctity of the Sabbath, as witness a sharp letter of his (21 January 1799) to one of the Caernarvon attorneys. CATHERINE NANNEY, daughter of Richard Nanney the elder, married Richard Ellis of Bodychen, another clergyman, and successor to his father-in-law as vicar of Clynnog; they were the parents of David Ellis Nanney, the learned lawyer, ancestor to Sir HUGH J. ELLIS NANNEY of Gwynfryn by Llanystumdwy.
Published date: 1959
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