GAMBOLD, (FAMILY).

Further information about this family has made necessary a revised entry. Changes are shown within square brackets.

[The name ‘Gambold’ (found in other parts of Britain) appears in the parish of St. Dogmaels, very early; it should be noted that part of the parish, which lies geographically in Pembs., belongs to the borough of Cardigan, across the river Teifi. A WILLIAM GAMBOLD was living in Cardigan in 1653 and was a member of the Court Leet. He appears to have had a son Hector, who in turn is believed (though the matter is not wholly clear) to have had two sons, TIMOTHY and WILLIAM (the grammarian below): Timothy had a son DAVID who died in 1761. David's descendants were his daughter ANNE who married Benjamin Millingchamp, died 1784, Comptroller of the Customs at Cardigan (see Benjamin Millingchamp; and this branch of the Gambold family is henceforth associated with that post. WILLIAM, David's son, a freeholder in Cardigan (West Wales Records, III, 77, under 1760), was a naval purser. He lived in Beaumaris and this is why his name appears in the letters of the Morris brothers of Anglesey (Lewis, Richard, William and his exploits in skirmishes with smugglers in Anglesey and elsewhere are narrated. There can be little doubt that it was he who sheltered Lewis Morris in 1758 on his release from Cardigan jail. He was later captain of the customs-cutter Pelham. There are references in the Morris Letters — see the Index by Hugh Owen — and frequently in the Holyhead and London customs records to a GEORGE, himself a captain, perhaps an elder brother to William ].

The eldest son of Hector Gambold above was WILLIAM GAMBOLD, the grammarian (1672 - 1728), a burgess of Cardigan in virtue of his ownership of the Nag's Head tavern. His son John states that he was born 10 Aug. 1672 ‘of reputable parents who gave him a good education to prepare him for orders in the Church ' — but Foster, Alumni Oxon., notes him as pauper puer and son of WILLIAM Gambold of Cardigan; [there is some confusion in the records of his first college, St. Mary Hall (now kept in Oriel College): there he is referred to as the son of ‘William or Hector’ and aged ‘18 or 20’ when he matriculated there 26 May 1693. ] He migrated to Exeter College (1694) but there is no record that he graduated. He was a friend of Edward Lhuyd who says that he provided him with additions for his notes to the Gibson ed. of Camden's Brittania (1695). He became rector of Puncheston with Llanychaer 1 December 1709 (West Wales Historical Records, II, 226 and III, 250) but it would seem that he had been there previously, perhaps as curate, for in November 1707 he was keeping school at Llanychaer. As early as 1707 Gambold was planning a Welsh dictionary, and this became his main occupation when an accident later disabled him from parochial work. It was finished in 1722 but Gambold failed to get money to publish it. In the Morris Letters (I, 114; II, 150, 233) there are references to Bishop Gambold trying to sell the MS. to the lexicographer Thomas Richards of Coychurch (1710 - 1790) — the Morris family characteristically tended to disparage the work. About 1770 the MS. came into the possession of another lexicographer, John Walters (1721 - 1797) and it is now at the National Library. William Gambold published A Grammar of the Welsh Language in 1727, reprinted after his death in 1817 and several times afterwards. He died 13 Sept. 1728.

[ William Gambold's wife was Elizabeth; it is said that she was of the neighbouring parish of Letterston but her surname is not known.]

The most celebrated of their 5 children was JOHN GAMBOLD (1711 - 1771), Moravian bishop, b. 10 April 1711 in Puncheston. His career touches Wales only at intervals and it is reported fully by Alexander Gordon in D.N.B.; here the Welsh, side of his life may be dealt with. He matriculated 10 Oct. 1726 from Christ Church where he came to know Charles Wesley and became one of the ‘Oxford Methodists’. He graduated in 1730, was ordained in 1733 and appointed vicar of Stanton Harcourt, near Oxford; but in 1739 he met Zinzendorf and became increasingly drawn to Moravianism. He resigned his living in 1742, m. Elizabeth Walker in 1743 and returned to Pembrokeshire to keep school in Market Street, Haverfordwest (see Cymm., 45, 28); but in 1744 he went to London and formally joined the Moravians — he became a bishop in 1753. Richard Morris had contacts with him in London (Morris Letters, II, 140-1, 221) and even his amused cynicism cannot help noting how the bishop ‘despises riches, having thrown up a good living to take up his present way of life, where he has no income at all, and delights in appearing poor and slovenly' — his brother Lewis (ibid. II, 224) comments; ‘such were the bishops of the primitive times’. In 1768 Gambold's health broke down, and he returned as pastor to the Moravian congregation at Haverfordwest where he d. 13 Sept. 1771 and was b. in the graveyard behind the chapel, [now closed].

Over and above his mission work Gambold was a considerable Greek and Patristic scholar. His theology was ‘quietist’ and mystical. He had not forgotten his native language. In 1760 he revised and saw through the press Un Ymadrodd ar Bumtheg ynghylch Iesu Grist, a translation of Zinzendorf's ‘Berlin Discourses’ by Evan Williams (1724 - 1758); and in 1770 he published a Welsh Moravian hymn book, Ychydig Hymnau allan o Lyfr Hymnau Cynulleidfaoedd y Brodyr (Cymm., 45, 112) — three of the hymns were taken from Vicar Prichard, the other 34 were Gambold's own versions of English Moravian hymns; it must be confessed that they are rather stiff.

[The order of the names of John Gambold's brothers in the original art. is faulty: see now Journal of the Hist. Soc. Presb. Church of Wales, Sept., 1961, for a more correct account based on their father's will. John was the eldest, b. 1711, followed by WILLIAM, b. 1712 or 1713; HECTOR, b. in Puncheston, 1714, he emigrated to USA in 1742 and d. in Pennsylvania in 1788; GEORGE; and a daughter MARTHA ].

William never left the Methodist movement. He began to exhort in 1766; he travelled in north Wales (Meth. Cymru, II, 304) and he was a great friend of Howel Davies (Journal of the Hist. Soc. of Presb. Church of Wales, 4, 55;). Nevertheless, he was on the friendliest terms with the Moravians and interesting reminiscences of his about the religious history of Pembrokeshire have been preserved in a MS. formerly in the Moravian archives at Haverfordwest (see nos. 1 and 2, Journal of the Hist. Soc. of the Presb. Church in Wales, 4). He was farming near Llawhaden in 1770 and was alive in 1794.

George d. in 1755. He too was, for a while, a Methodist. There is a letter from him to Howel Harris (T.L. 1256, December 1744), and in 1748 he was an exhorter. He continued his brother's school at Haverfordwest and in turn he too became a Moravian, founding with John Sparks the society which was in 1763 to become the Moravian congregation at Haverfordwest.

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Published date: 2001

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