William Ellis Jones of Bryntirion (1758 – 1830) — Biographical Information

The following article is a transcription of a much-photocopied typewritten document of unknown original origin or date. I obtained this photocopy from D.L. Bond of Raleigh, NC, who is a great-grandson of Lewis Evan Jones Jr., the great-grandson of the subject of the article, William Ellis Jones of Bryntirion. No author is indicated. I have not revised or altered any of the content. This is a true, unedited transcription from the original in my possession. Based upon the content, a great deal of the information appears to have been derived from The Origin and History of Methodism in Wales and the Borders, by David Young – Morrison & Gibb, Printers, Edinburgh, 1893. See: Pages 589 – 590. (The author notes his sources as coming from Yr Eurgrawn Wesleyaidd (The Wesleyan Magazine), which may have been the original source for The Origin and History…) There is additional information regarding the names and marriage relationships of children included in this article that does not appear in the original. In addition, there is a notation of where William Ellis Jones of Bryntirion is buried that I have been unable to note in any other source. This document is provided as Secondary Source information only. It should not be relied upon as absolutely factual until Primary Source material can be found to authenticate it.

– C.H. Jones
Raleigh, N.C., U.S.A.
December 10, 2014


 

Mr. William Jones – Bryntirion, Bont Ddu, Meirionydd

“Mr. Jones was a most remarkable man, and his joining the Wesleyan cause influenced the area for generation after generation. This deserves detailed attention. He was the son of Richard Jones, heir of Tyddyn Du and Bont Ddu in the parish of Llanaber, Meirionethshire. He was born in the year 1758. Having received some education at local schools, he was sent to a Language school at Pwllheli in 1770. He became fluent in Latin, Greek and Hebrew. His parents had intended that he should go to one of the universities, so that he could be trained for holy orders. But he had a strong objection to this, because of the oaths that he would have to swear to when taking holy orders – that he had received the Holy Spirit, etc. He chose, rather, to be a lay preacher, and learnt the craft of a carpenter. He was bound as an apprentice to one David Davies, Pendref, Machyulleth. He followed this craft, at his leisure, for the rest of his life. On June 3rd, 1761, he married Catherine Evans, daughter of Lewis Evans, Tyn yr Eithin, in the parish of Touryn, Meirionethshire.* (See note below.) The union lasted for 46 years. Mrs. Jones was faithful to Christ and his cause for many years. An account of her life and death are seen in the Eurgrawn, 1827, page 243.

“The following year, Mr. Jones joined the Calvanistic Methodists. He had to go to Barmouth, five miles away, in order to attend church meetings. Mrs. Jones at that time was very much against her husband’s taking up religion, and he suffered considerable persecution because of this. Gradually, she came to see that he was right, and having realised her need of a Savior she joined the cause in the year 1788. They were members of the Methodist cause for about 20 years. Mr. Jones was liberal minded and appreciated every opportunity to listen to the Word of God. But this was not acceptable to some of the brothers. He was reproached for going to listen to the Independents. Mr. Jones, Bathafarn, visited the area in 1807, and he preached at a place called Llech faith. Mr. W. Jones was amongst his listeners and at the end of the service he approached the preacher and invited him to lunch, and he accepted. When some of the religious brothers realised that Mr. Jones had been to hear a preacher as heretical as a Wesleyan minister, and – worse than that – that he had invited him to his house, they felt that it was their duty to consider the matter seriously. A meeting was called; they considered the case thoroughly, and the decision they reached was that he should be severely disciplined and warned that he was not to listen to Arminian heretics from then on, nor to associate with them. But Mr. Jones was too independently minded to be frightened by such a resolution. As he did not comply with their request, the matter had to be taken further, and it came to the attention of the association at Machynlleth in November, 1808. Some felt that he should be disbarred immediately, while others felt that they should have patience and take time to consider the matter further. One of the elders said: ‘Brothers, the matter under consideration is one of great importance, and we should therefore be very careful. This brother has been one of us for 26 years, and his house was always an open court to the people of the Lord. It would be a very grave step to throw him overboard. In that way, there would be no further hope for him. Let him remain on deck, maybe he will see the error of his ways and reform.’ No resolution was passed in his case on that occasion. The following afternoon the Rev. John Elias preached an important sermon, on the necessity of being healthy in the faith, and that errant thoughts were as dangerous as errant ways, etc. Mr. Jones realised that it was not possible to find peace and succor in the ‘old ship’, and he therefore bade the whole crew farewell. The following Sunday Mr. Robert Griffith tried to console the Calvanistic church at Bont Ddu by preaching from Isiah ii 22: ‘Cease ye from man, whose breath is in his nostrils; for wherein is he to be accounted of?’

“Although Mr. Jones spoke respectfully of his previous fellow worshipers, yet he often witnessed to the freedom, the consolation, the benefit and additional blessings which his soul enjoyed after it was removed from under the yoke of Calvanism, and he sympathised with those who remained under it. From this we gather that (he) was closely associated with religion for 48 years, 26 with the Calvinists and 22 with the Wesleyans, and for nearly the whole of that period he was a faithful and hard-working deacon, with both connections, and he was never disciplined, nor were any complaints made against, except the one mentioned above. The substance of the above was taken from his biography, which appeared in the Eurgrawn, 1831. It is seen that Mr. Jones came under the whip for a very minor matter, merely going to listen to the Gospel being preached by someone from another denomination, and welcoming that preacher into his house. There is no mention of any deviation in his doctrinal beliefs, nor of his trying to sow them in the minds of others. His only offense was listening to other denominations.

“After joining the Wesleyans he built them a chapel in 1811, and he donated it to the denomination for the sum of £40. The Chapel was known as Pennebo. Whilst he was with the Methodists he had built them a chapel as well, on his own land, of which they were ensured for 99 years.

“After joining the Wesleyans, it was not long before he was appointed a deacon. He had filled the same office with the Methodists. He had all the necessary qualifications to fill the office. As well as being an experienced Christian and clean living, he was also a very enlightened man. He was the most enlightened and cultured man in the area. He read the Word of God assiduously, and he had a good understanding of the basic and essential principles and doctrines of the Gospel. In his day he wrote substantial articles to the Eurgrawn. In addition he had extensive and varied general knowledge. He wrote a book, The Wonder of the Great World, the fruit of 20 years labour. Parts, if not the whole book, were published. Furthermore, he was also very much concerned with the Welfare of the people under his care. He inquired of everyone of them personally every week whether they had won a new victory over sin or an enemy, during the week. And he warned them constantly that unless they had won a victory, that there was danger of an enemy gaining a victory over them. Although he was honest and conscientious in the face of sin or backsliding, he always took care not to turn a sinner aside, and he used to say that he would rather err on the side of Love than severity. He placed great emphasis on family devotion, and he believed that the prayers of the servants of God for the family had been a bastion of defence for the family. He believed in religious meditation.. He used to go out by himself during the evening to walk alone, to read the Bible, or Young’s Night Thoughts or a similar book. But his journey was drawing to an end. He was gradually ailing during the summer of 1829. The last Sunday for him to attend Pennebo chapel was December 27, to hear his old friend, Mr. Robert Jones, Llwyngriffri. From then on he held to the prayer meetings at his own home. He submitted himself completely to the will of God. He thought that his days might be extended, so that he could be of service to Christ and his cause, but as his health deteriorated he desired to be released and to be with Christ. His last words to his family, his fellow members and his neighbors were (Heb. IV, 1) ‘Let us therefore fear, lest a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it.’ He drew his last breath at 5 o’clock in the morning on Tuesday, February 2nd, 1830 at the age of 72. Mr. Bonner preached at his funeral service, and two ministers offered prayers before the funeral started. Although there were seven miles from Bryntirion to Llanaber, where his earthly remains were to be interred, the neighbors insisted on carrying him on their shoulders all the way as a mark of their respect. A slate tablet was placed in the chapel, above the place where he used to sit, with a brief description of his character inscribed on it.

“They had nine children, two of whom died in infancy. The other seven survived to maturity. Catherine, wife of the Rev. Thomas Thomas, Ann, wife of the Rev. Owen Jones; Richard, printer, Dolgellau, Margaret, wife of Mr. Morris Morris, Halfway House, Bont Ddu, Lewis Evan Jones, printer, Caernarfon, Elizabeth, wife of Mr. William J. Roberts, Hafod y Coed, and Laura, who died peacefully on Nov. 25th, 1826. Her obituary appeared in Eurgrawn, Mai, 1827, page 145. The late Mr. W. J. Morris, J.P.Barmouth was the son of Mr. Morris, Halfway House,BontDdu, and the surviving son is the fourth generation to serve the Lord and his cause faithfully. This shows that the influence of the Christian gentleman, Mr. William Jones,Bryntirion, is seen in generation after generation.”


 

* The marriage date of June 3rd, 1761 indicated by this author cannot be correct, as William was born in 1758 and Catherine was born in 1761. If all other information regarding the marriage length (46 years) and William’s death date (1830) are correct, then it can be deduced that they were married in 1784.

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