Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Griffith Jones, Llanddowror: Corrections and Clarifications

My thanks to Geraint Jones, of Heath Christian Bookshop, Cardiff, for informing me that the date of April 1683 for Griffith Jones' birth, given by F. A. Cavenagh and David Jones, is incorrect. In fact, the date is a year later, meaning that Griffith Jones was baptised less than a month afterwards - a far more believable timing, given the uncertainty of life in the late seventeenth century. His father is reported as having died in March of that year, which is perhaps why the error of one year is given. However, it must be noted that the year began on 25 March, not 1 January, thus his father died ten months after his son's birth, and nine after the baptism.

Great care needs to be taken with the older sources, and it must be noted that much error is avoided by being careful with the account of Griffith Jones given by F. A. Cavenagh, who relied too much on a rather scurrilous pamphlet written by the Rev. John Evans, Eglwys Cymmin. The same is true of Thomas Rees, author of the History of Protestant Nonconformity in Wales, who identifies Jones' parents as nonconformists on the strength of Evans' pamphlet.

As for Evans' character, David Jones, a later Anglican biographer, notes that the man, a non-resident minister, who visted his parish only to collect the tithe (so much for Evans' being a 'neighbour' of Jones), dismissed an earnest-minded curate for 'showing too much zeal' and not reading the latter part of a sermon due to a distraction. The idea that this man was even able to show 'human traits' in Griffith Jones is no more than the modern tendency to believe the worst report of everybody.



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