HIS LIFS, LGTTGRS AND
HENRY GRAY'S Periodical Catalogue, No. 283.
Theophilus Jones, F.S.A., Historian : i jF
1 his Life, Letters and Literary . Remains. 1
Edited by Edwin Davies. Portraits, Arms,
Monument, etc. 8vo, cloth, list of sub- \
ssribers, pp. xi., 158. Brecon, 19" 5. 7s 6d :
^ 42 ^'
Historian of Brecknockshire, bum at Brecon. Con-
tains Pedigree of the Morgans of Tredegar, Machen,
( See ixtijK 21.)
THEOPHILUS JONES, RS.A.,
HIS LIFE, LETTERS & LITERARY REMAINS.
EDITED BY EDWIN DAVIES.
"CAS NI CHARO Y WLAD A* I MAGO.
Published by Davies & Co., Bridge Sthekt ;
AJ»D PBINTBD FOB THEM BY ANTHONY BKOTHEBB LIMITED, " HEREFOED TTMEi
RIGHT HON. LORD TREDEGAR.
I was privileged to inscribe to you my Reprint of
Theophilus Jones's History of Brecknockshire, in the
production of which you manifested a kindly interest.
I have thought that the following pages of
Biography and Letters of the Historian might be
acceptable to his countrymen, and I am happy in the
knowledge that the enterprise has your lordship's
To you, therefore, the most generous Patron of
Welsh Education, Literature, and Art, the distinguished
and beloved Welsh Hero and Philanthropist, I likewise
Dedicate tliis Volume, and count myself doubly
honoured in being permitted to do so.
I am, my l/ord,
Your obedient servant,
Right Hox. Lord TiiKUHciAR.
( l-'rom I'hoto bij Alfrnl Freke, Queen St., Cardi//'.)
Portrait of Theophii^us Jones.
The House Where he Died.
Fac-simii,e of Tombstone in L,i,angammarch
Portrait of Lord Tredegar.
npHESE I<etters, written by Theophilus Jones, now
■^ published for the first time, form part of a most
interesting collection of MS. Letters from eminent
Welshmen now in the possession of the Cardiff Free
Library Committee, to whose courtesy, as well as that
of their accomplished Librarian, I am indebted for
permission to copy and print.
The personaUty of the writer of the Letters is
admirably described in Miss Morgan's Biography,
and it is unnecessary to add anything further in that
direction. But I may perhaps be allowed to say here,
that the letters are a complete refutation of an
assertion which has gained currency to the effect that
the History which Jones published was largely the
work of another person. It is quite true that
Theophilus Jones obtained information from every
source which he thought to be reliable. He was also
diligent in seeking advice from those he thought capable
of giving it, and in verifying facts about which he had
any doubt. But the work was his from beginning
to end. These Letters are a striking testimony of the
patience with which he, under many trying circum-
stances, carried his great task to a successful
For the most part the Letters were written by
Theophilus Jones to his Hfe-long friend, the Rev.
Edward Davies, of Olveston, Gloucestershire, but
there are a few others to the Rev. Walter Davies
(" Gwalter Mechain"), and for these I am indebted
to Mr. J. Glyn Davies, the Welsh Librarian at
Of the Rev. Edward Davies, in whose career the
Historian took such an affectionate interest, it should
be stated that he was a Radnorshire man, bom on the
7th July, 1756, some three years before Jones's birth,
at a farm called Hendre Einon, in the parish of Llan-
vareth, three miles from Builth. His father was
farmer of a small estate of which his uncle was the
Edward Davies was a student for a Httle over a
year at Christ College, Brecon, and in 1775 opened a
school at Hay, and was ordained curate of Bacton, in
Herefordshire, four years later. He served this and
several other curacies, after the manner of his time,
besides keeping his school ; and it is stated that he
conducted five services every Sunday, and travelled
30 miles to do so, for £30 a year. Mr. Davies was
master from 1783 to 1799 of the Grammar School at
Chipping Sodbury, in Gloucestershire, and in the
former year he married his first wife, Margaret Smith,
Mr. Davies devoted his leisure to Celtic antiquarian
studies, to poetry, and divinity. He made the
acquaintance of Owen Pughe, Edward Williams, and
other leading Welsh antiquarians. Some of the poems
of the ' ' Myvyrian Archaiology ' ' were taken from
his transcripts. In 1799 he went as curate of Olveston,
also in Gloucestershire, and it was to this address
that Jones, the Historian, directed nearly all his
Jones, who was Davies's contemporary at school,
exerted himself to obtain for him some preferment,
and many of Jones's Letters betray anxiety on account
of his friend's impoverished condition. Theo. Jones
only too well knew the exacting character of the literary
work in which Edward Davies was engaged, and no
doubt desired to get his mind relieved of the cares due
to his evident financial embarrassment. After pro-
longed efforts, Theo. Jones appears to have succeeded,
for in i8g2 Mr. Davies secured the perpetual curacy
of i/lanbedr, and in 1805 the rectory of Bishopston,
in Gower, near Swansea. He continued to live at
Olveston until 1813, when he removed to Bishopston.
Bishop Burgess, who expressed himself as charmed
that Edward Davies ' ' was not a mere black letter
' ' man, but an orthodox divine and admirable theo-
" logical writer," in 1810 gave him the prebend of
Llangunllo, in the then almost dilapidated Christ
College at Brecon.
In 1816 Mr. Davies took to himself a second wife,
Susanna Jeffreys, and was made Chancellor of Brecon
and Rector of Llanfair Orllwyn, in Cardiganshire,
but as Theophilus Jones died in 1812, he was not per-
mitted to rejoice over his friend's increased prosperity.
The Letters show a constant anxiety on the part
of Jones with regard to Edward Davies's eyesight,
which, in consequence of an accident received when a
boy, was always defective. In his latter days, he
became totally blind. When he relinquished his
clerical duties in 1823 in consequence of ill-health,
he was soon after elected an associate of the Royal
Society of Literature, and thus obtained £100 a year.
He died on January 7th, 1831, and was buried at
Bishopstone. The Rev. Edward Davies's chief works
1. Aphtharte, the genius of Britain ; a Poem written
in the taste of the i6th century ; 1784.
2. Vacunalia ; consisting of Essays in verse ; 1788.
3. Eliza Powell ; or the Trials of Sensibility ; a
novel ; 1795.
4- Celtic Researches, or the Origin, Traditions, and
Language of the Antient Britons, with Intro-
ductory Sketches on Primitive vSociety ; 1804.
This is his best known book.
5. A Series of Discourses on Church Union, in which
it is maintained that the duty of Communion
with the ApostoHcal Church remains iincancelled
by the tolerance of the British Laws ; 181 1.
6. Immanuel, a Letter on Isaiah vii., 14, in answer
to the Strictures of a Modern Jew; 1816.
7. The Mythology and Rites of the British Druids,
ascertained by national documents and com-
pared with the traditions and customs of
Heathenism ; 1809.
8. The Claims of Ossian, examined and appreciated
together with some curious particulars relative
to the State of Poetr>^ in the Celtic dialects of
Scotland and Ireland ; 1825. An attack on
Macpherson for disparaging the Welsh Bards.
9. Various Papers and Translations, such as those
of Davydd ap Gwilym, which are printed in
the Cambrian Register.
Through the efforts of Miss G. E. F. Morgan, of
Brecon, money was raised in 1899 for the purpose Of
placing a tablet in Llangammarch Church to the
memory of Theophilus Jones and for renovating the
memorial to him in Christ College chapel. The
omission may be entirely due to an oversight ; but it
is to be hoped that at Christ College there will shortly
be erected suitable memorials to the Rev. Edward
Davies and the Rev. Thomas Price (" Carnhuanwc ")
two remarkable Welshmen and both students of the
To this collection of Letters are added some
anonymous papers by Theophilus Jones, as well as
some accoimt of his books, &c. And, as they are of
local interest, and were for the most part written
whilst visiting Theophilus Jones, several extracts from
Richard Fenton's MS. Diary are also included.
Miss Morgan has very kindly revised and enlarged
her Biography of the Author of ' ' Brecknockshire, ' '
and the new portrait of him has been engraved from a
portrait in her possession, drawn from life by the
Rev. Thomas Price, Cwmdu.
The Author's book-plate was fortunately dis-
covered before going to press. It is taken from a
photograph of the plate in the 2nd vol. of Jones,
History, which was presented by his widow in 1827
to the Welsh I,ibrary at St. David's College, I^ampeter ;
and I have to thank Mr. William Davies, the Bursary
Clerk, for attending to this matter.
Mr. Ifano Jones, of Cardiff Library, has been good
enough to look over the Welsh in the letters.
The pedigree of the " Morgans of Tredegar," &c.,
forms a part of the MS. collection by Jones, and for
that reason it is now included.
tri&eopl&ilu^ Woxxe$, ^^S^n.
" If anything I have suggested shall be pro-
ductive of benefit to one deserving person, or my
lucubrations shall afford amusement and satis-
faction to the public, my ends are obtained. The
utmost extent of my ambition is, that I may live a
few years in the recollection and approbation of
my countrymen after Providence shall have con-
signed me to the long silence of the grave."
H EARLY a century^ has passed since the words
quoted above were written by the Historian of
Brecknockshire, and the fact that a reprint of his
History — without note or comment, but an exact
copy of the first edition — should have been eagerly
subscribed for at this distance of time, is proof, if any
such were needed, of the vitality of the book, and of
the place which Theophilus Jones holds in the hearts
of his countrymen.
The saying " Happy is the country that has no
history ! ' ' may also apply to individuals, and in that
sense it is true of the subject of this sketch. His un-
eventful existence passed in a quiet country town
furnishes no stirring incidents from which to weave
an elaborate biography, the story of his life being
that of his History. Some three generations have
passed away since he walked through the land he
loved so well, yet into our own time there have lived
those who knew him, who have watched him fishing
of a summer's evening, who have spoken of his
kindliness, and who have nothing to tell that does not
confirm the impression left on our minds after reading
his great book, that he was a God-fearing, amiable
and upright man. His life was one of simplicity and
hard work carried out during a period of physical suffer-
ing heroically borne. He turned from the possibilities
of wealth (his partner and successor amassed a large
fortune, and purchased a considerable estate in the
neighbourhood), to comparative poverty", in order that
he might rescue from oblivion the memorials of past
days, many of which would otherwise never have
come down to us. The debt which the posterity of a
county owes to its conscientious, careful antiquary can
hardly be over-estimated, and Brecknockshire has been
peculiarly fortunate in this respect. It is surely a
matter of no small pride and satisfaction to us to realize
that the best County History in Wales was written
by Theophilus Jones, that the best Historj^ of Wales
in Welsh, " Hanes Cymru," was the work of the Rev.
Thomas Price, vicar of Cwmdu, and that the only
History of Wales written in English (until Prof. Owen
Edwards recentlj^ gave us ' ' Wales ' ' in the ' ' Story
of the Nations" series) was by Miss Jane Williams,
" Ysgafell," all of whom belonged to Brecknockshire
by birth, breeding or descent.
Theophilus Jones was the only son of the Rev.
Hugh Jones, Vicar of I^langammarch and Lb'wel,
and Prebendary of Boughrood IJanbedr Painscastle,
whose father, another Hugh Jones, married Mary,
daughter of Rees Lloyd, of Nantmel, a member of
the famil}' of lyloyd of Rhosferig and Aberannell.
Our Historian was thus of the line of Elystan Glodrydd,
Prince of Ferregs, whose descendants peopled the
hundred of Builth, and through his paternal grand-
mother he was connected v/ith the Jeffreyses of
Brecon and the Watkinses of Penoyre.
The Rev. Hugh Jones married Elinor, elder
daughter of the Rev. Theophilus Evans, vicar of
Uangammarch from 1738 to 1763, in which year he
resigned the living in favour of his son-in-law, Mr.
Hugh Jones ; Mr. Evans was also vicar of St. David's
Brecon, to which he was inducted 8th June, 1739,
It is always interesting to note the hereditary
influences, which have helped to form the tastes and
characters of remarkable men, and no account of
Theophilus Jones's life would be complete, that did not
touch on the career of his maternal grandfather, who
seems to have been a man of considerable ability, and
is spoken of by his grandson with affectionate respect.
Theophilus Evans was the fifth son of Charles
Evans, of Pen-y-wenallt, Cardiganshire, of the tribe
of Gwynfardd Dyfed, whose father had suffered even
to imprisonment for his loyalty to Charles I. He was
born in 1694, ordained deacon in 1718, and priest
in 1719, by the Bishop of St. David's. The friend-
ship existing between his countrymen the Uoyds
of Millfield and the Gwynnes of Glanbran, induced
him to settle in this county. Here it may be well
to give a short account -of his literary work.
His first publication was in Welsh, it appeared in 1716,
and was called " Drych y Prif Oesoedd," or a
" Mirror of Ancient Times," being a brief history of
the ancient Britons. "This book," wrote his
grandson, ' ' seems to have been more read and admired
' ' by the inhabitants of South Wales than any other
' ' ever published in the language, unless it be Uyfr
' • y Ficcar Llandyf ri, and it is still as great a favourite
"as ever in this part of the Principality." There
have been fourteen Welsh editions of this remarkable
work, the latest being that published by Spurrell
of Carmarthen in 1884. In 1739 appeared his " Pwyll y
Pader," being an exposition of the Lord's Prayer in
several sermons, which he dedicated to Sackville Gwynne,
Esq., of Glanbran, to whom he pays a compliment for
his zeal in the encouragement and promotion of the
worship of God by the erection of the church of Tyr
Abot, which was Mr. Evans's first curacy ; he was
also domestic chaplain to Mr. Gwynne of Garth. The
dedicator}' portion of the work concludes with a prayer
to the Deity, " that as his patron had until that day
' ' lived in a mansion situated in a rich soil and in the
' ' fat of the land, nourished and fertilized by the dew
" of heaven, after a length of days spent piously and
" happily in this world, he might be awakened by
" an angel of life in the realms of bliss." In 1752
he published in English " A History of Modern En-
thusiasm," of which another edition was brought out
in 1757 ; both are now very rare. This book contained
a severe attack upon all dissenters from the Estab-
hshed Church. The circumstances under which this
work, which roused so much feeling, was published,
have not been fully recognized. In 1743 the Rev.
John Wesley paid his first visit to Brecknockshire,
which had already been stirred by the preaching of
Howel Harris and Rowlands of Llangeitho. We read
in his Diary (which Mr. Birrell has recently told us
throws more Ught upon the moral and social conditions
of England in the eighteenth century than an^- other
book,) under date
" May, 1743, Wednesday 3rd. — came to Builth.
" Mr. Phillips, the Rector of Maesmynis (at whose
" invitation I came), soon to take knowledge of me.
" I preached on a tomb at the east end of the church
" at four, and again at seven. Mr. Gwynne and
" Mr. Prothero, Justices of the Peace, stood on
" either hand of me."
Mr. Gwynne was of Garth, and previously to this had
stood with the Riot Act in his pocket near IJanwrtyd
Church to hear Howel Harris preach, determined to
arrest him, not doubting he was a madman, but was so
deeply impressed by his preaching, that at the close he
grasped Howel Harris's hand, besought his pardon, and
took him home to Garth. Dr. Stevens gives a very
interesting account of Mr. Gwynne : — " In Wales the
* ' Wesleys were entertained at the opulent mansion
" of Marmaduke Gwynne, Esq., a magistrate, of Garth.
" His princely establishment usually comprised, beside
' ' nine children and twenty servants, a chaplain, and
" from ten to fifteen guests. . . . The Wesleys
' ' preached to them daily while seeking repose amid
" their hospitality." The chaplain was the Rev.
Theophilus Evans, as has been said, and he must have
had many arguments with Mr. Wesley during their
frequent and lengthy interviews, though when Charles
Wesley, the sweet singer of the movement, wedded
Miss Sarah Gwjmne, we do not find that the chaplain
assisted at the ceremony. To quote again from John
Wesley's Diary : —
" 1739. April, Friday 7th, we reached Garth.
" Saturday 8th, I married -my brother and Sarah
" Gwynne. It was a solemn day, such as became
"the dignity of a Christian marriage."
Unconvinced by all that he saw and heard, Mr.
Evans felt it his duty to protest, and Mr. Wesley and
Mr. Whitfield wrote a reply to his book. In later
years his grandson apologised for the bitterness of
his tone in the following words: — "He wrote as a
" member of the Established Church to prevent by
" timely warning the repetition of those calamities
" produced by fanaticism in the generation preceding
" him, of the recurrence of which he seems to have been
" apprehensive from the spread of an enthusiasm equally
" mischievous, though assuming a different garb, artfully
" fomented and encouraged, as he apprehended, by the
" Church of Rome." It is curious to read, that he
seriously thought the Methodists were emissaries of the
CathoHc Church, though it was not an uncommon belief
at the time, John Wesley himself having been taken for
a Jesuit in disguise, when preaching in South Wales ;
the memory of the Rising of 1745, and the sympathy
of the Catholics with the cause of the White
Rose, made the poptilar mind ready to assign
any new departure in rehgion or politics to the influence
of the Jesuits. Then the traditions of family suffer-
ings and losses during the Civil War doubtless account
for a genuine though exaggerated alarm at the doings
of John Wesley and his followers. To his mind the
terms ' ' fanatic ' ' and ' ' enthusiast ' ' were evidently
synonymous, but to us, who are looking back at the
course of events he anticipated, it seems impossible to
imagine what the religious and social Hfe of the
eighteenth — nay, even of the nineteenth — centuries
would have been without the " enthusiasm" of the
great Fellow of Lincoln.
At the same time whilst it is customary to pour
contempt on the clergy of the Church in Wales during
the last century, it is refreshing to think of Mr. Evans
as one, who may not unreasonably be taken as typical
of the better kind of Welsh parish priest, of whom
such a character remains as that given to him by
Theophilus Jones : ' ' My revered, learned and respec-
table grandfather "... who, notwithstanding the
bitterness of his tone towards those who differed from
him in their forms of faith, ' ' had perhaps as much of
" the milk of human kindness as any man who ever lived.
' ' Of the value of money he knew little, books were
' his only treasures, and employed the greatest part
' of that time in which he was not engaged in the
' duties of his holy function, and in this character he
' was remarkably eminent ; many of the sectaries
' whom he condemned heard his exhortations with
' pleasure, if not with improvement, and his sermons
' are even now recollected with rapture ; he had a
' method of bringing home his arguments to the
' feelings of his auditors, without descending to low
' or familiar phrases, which was peculiarly
' persuasive. ' '
Mr, Evans was a fellow-labourer with the Rev.
Griffith Jones, vicar of Llanddowror, the founder of
the first day and Sunday schools in Wales. His cir-
culating schools were started in 1730, in which year
Mr. Evans wrote a " Letter on Education," published
by Mr. Robert Raikes, of Gloucester, who may have
been induced by the example of these Welsh clergymen
to establish Sunday schools in England. It is pleasant
to trace their beginning to our own county. When
the good Vicar of Llanddowror, ' ' The Morning Star
of the Welsh Reformation," died in 1761, these schools
had been instrumental in teaching over 150,000 of the
W^elsh people to read God's Holy Word in their own
In the previous century the Rev. R. Powel, vicar
of Boughrood, whose pious memory so many Brecon
boys have had reason to bless, had left money by his
will ' ' to teach and instruct poor children, natives of
" Brecon, in the English tongue, the better to enable
* ' them to serve God, and manage their trades or occu-
" pations," on which Theophilus Jones makes the
following remarkable commentary, which at least shows
that he did not share his grandfather's opinions in
relation to Simday schools : — " It is not clear to me
" from these words, whether this good divine intended
' ' these children should be taught to read and write or
' ' not. I am sure I should respect his memory much
*' more, if I thought he did not, notwithstanding the
" fashionable mania for parochial and Sunday schools,
' ' which, nineteen times out of twenty, only teach boys
" to misapprehend their Bible, to prate and become
"troublesome in their neighbourhood." One hundred
years have passed away since that sentence was written
in happy unconsciousness of the advent of a com-
plete system of Welsh education, which will give our
boys and girls the same advantages that Scotland
has so long enjoyed, and which will make Brecon an
educational centre of the greatest importance, if our
countrymen realize the possibiUties now within their
In the year 1732 Mr. Evans discovered the mineral
springs of Llanwrtyd, called ' ' Ffynon Drewllyd
(stinking well), so valuable as a cure for scrofulous com-
plaints. In a letter to the Editor of the " St. James's
Chronicle," in 1738, he gives an interesting account
of the manner in which his attention first became
attracted to these waters. In his quaint style he says : —
' The writer hereof, being then almost worn out by a
' disease of many years continuance, was casually
' informed of this then reputed venomous spring.
' His curiosity led him that way, which, by the smell,
' he could easily find without a guide. He sat on
' the brink of it a long time dubious what to do. As
' he was thus musing and revolving in his mind what
' he had best do, a frog popped out of the bottom,
' looked cheerfull}^ and, as it were, invited him to
' taste of the water. He then immediately concluded
' that the water could not have any poisonous quality,
' because of that creature's living so comfortably
" there, and took a moderate draught, about half-a-
' ' pint or more, without any concern or dread of danger.
" By the use of this for about two months, and by
" taking baths in the water every day, he became
" perfectly whole, though his case had been deemed
' ' incurable. ' '
Mr. Evans lived at L,lwyn Einon, in Llangam-
march (now a farmhouse), and on his death left the
little estate to Theophilus Jones, who honoured the
memory of his grandfather by a peculiar attachment
to the place. The Rev. Theophilus Evans died
September nth, 1767, aged 73, and was buried in the
Churchyard of lylangammarch, " near the stile
entering from the east."
Theophilus Jones was born in Brecon on i8th
October, 1759, and on 8th November following he was
baptized in the chapel of St. Mary in that town. His
father was at that time curate of St. David's, Brecon,
and lived in a charming old house in lyion street (one
of the many town residences of the county families, who
used to come to Brecon for the Assizes and other gather-
ings), where Dr. George Bull, Bishop of St. David's, had
died earlier in the century. The future Historian
passed some of his early years at 1/lwyn Einon, and,
young though he was, there can be little doubt that his