Dictionary of Welsh Biography


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COFFIN , WALTER ( 1784 - 1867 ), colliery pioneer ;

b. 1784 , the second son of Walter Coffin , tanner , of Bridgend, Glam. While prospecting in the Rhondda valley for bark, he became interested in coal , and in 1806 bought Dinas Rhondda farm , opening a coal level there in 1807 , which he connected with Gyfeillon (see Griffiths , Richard ) by tramroad, thus enabling his coal to reach the canal at Treforest . In 1810 he took a mining lease on other lands at Dinas , and sank pits there in 1815 and 1832 — he worked ‘ Rhondda no. 1 ’ and ‘ Rhondda no. 3 ’ seams. Though a director of the Taff Vale Railway in 1836 , he opposed its extension up the Rhondda valley , having no opinion of the future prospects of that valley and believing that its output could be adequately handled by tram and canal. From 1852 to 1857 he was M.P. for Cardiff . He d. at Llandaff Court [15 Feb.] 1867 . Coffin was a man of advanced views in theology. His father was the sole surviving trustee of the ‘ Old Meeting ’ at Bridgend when (soon after 1806 ) dissensions arose there; and Coffin was in this way enabled in 1816 to secure the election of John James ( 1779 - 1864 ) (q.v.) as pastor — the Old Meeting thus becoming Unitarian . At Dinas , too, Coffin 's influence afforded Unitarianism an opportunity for a time, the works medical officer , Evan Davies (see under Davies , Henry , 1696? - 1766 ), being a supporter of that cause.

Sources:

  • O. Morgan , History of Pontypridd and Rhondda Valleys , 1903 , 1903 , 184-93;
  • Elizabeth Phillips , A history of the pioneers of the Welsh coalfield , 1925 , 1925 , 155-7;
  • unpublished thesis on the Industrial Development of the Rhondda Valleys, by E. D. Lewis (at N.L.W.);
  • Hanes Eglwysi Annibynnol Cymru , ii, 199;
  • Yr Ymofynnydd , 1931 , 121;
  • Caroline E. Williams (ed.), A Welsh family from the beginning of the 18th century , London, 1885 ;
  • [ W. R. Williams , The History of the Parliamentary Representation of Wales , 1895 ].

Author:

Emeritus Professor Robert Thomas Jenkins, C.B.E., D.Litt., Ll.D., F.S.A., (1881-1969), Bangor

Published date: 1959