Dictionary of Welsh Biography


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DAVIES , JOHN ( Siôn Gymro ; 1804 - 1884 ), Independent minister, linguist, and commentator .

Born at Bwlch-yr-helygen in the Parish of Llanarth, Cards. , 5 March 1804 , but his parents — David and Mary Davies — shortly afterwards moved to a near-by farm called Castell-y-geifr . His father, whose education was above the average, was his first teacher , but when he was 7 years old he was sent to the school at Neuaddlwyd kept by Thomas Phillips ( 1772 - 1842 ) . He began to preach on 1 July 1819 at Neuadd-lwyd school, and in 1822 was received into the Independent Academy at Newtown . Here his teacher was Edward Davies ( 1796 - 1857 ) , while among his fellow-pupils were Samuel Roberts and David Rees ( 1801 - 1869 ) of Llanelly . Here, too, he was given the opportunity of mastering the elements of Hebrew , Aramaic , and Syriac , as well as of improving his knowledge of Latin , Greek , and divinity. He was invited to Glandŵr , Pembs. , on six months probation, and was ordained 28 March 1827 . Two years later he founded Moriah church , Llanwinio, Carms. In 1863 he gave up Glandŵr and, thereafter, until his death, 16 Dec. 1884 , confined his activities to Moriah . He was a good pastor , a sound preacher , and a leader in his circle and denomination ; in 1873 he was chairman of the Union of Welsh Independents . He was a frequent contributor to the periodicals of the day , writing under the pseudonyms Siôn Llethi , Castellanus , and Siôn Gymro . He delighted in controversy of the kind carried on with John Roberts ( 1804 - 1884 ) in Y Dysgedydd , 1850-2 , on ‘ Fanciful Preaching .’

He excelled as a translator and commentator . In 1881 he published his version of the Minor Prophets ( Y Proffwydi Byrion ), an original translation from the Hebrew with marginal Latin , Greek , and Syriac readings, and explanatory notes. This work is the fruit of forty years of sustained labour and research. His other papers include Llyfr Coheleth and Llyfr Hosea — translations; Horae Petrinae , lectures on S. Peter's epistles ; Floreas Poetici — a collection of his verse. He also published Llethi, Afonig Llanarth gyda Sylwadau Achlysurol , in 1868 , but he was but an indifferent poet . His son, John Griffith Davies ( 1836 - 1861 ) , is separately noticed.

Sources:

  • ‘Sion Gymro’ by Ben Davies ;
  • Y Geninen , iii, 126, iv, 116;
  • Y Diwygiwr , 1888-90 ;
  • Hanes Eglwysi Annibynnol Cymru , v, 258;
  • NLW MSS 6196, 8613-9.

Author:

Rev. Thomas Eirug Davies, M.A., B.D. (1892-1951), Lampeter

Published date: 1959