Dictionary of Welsh Biography

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DAVIES , RHYS (‘ Y Glun Bren ’; 1772 - 1847 ), an eccentric Independent preacher ;

b. 1772 in the neighbourhood of Newcastle Emlyn . He was taught by J . Griffiths ( 1731 - 1811 ) (q.v.) , of Glandŵr, Pembs. , and as a young man began to preach in the Independent chapels. At the outset of his career he went to North Wales , where he was a schoolmaster at Pennal , Dinas Mawddwy , and other places. In 1796 he was attending an assembly at which religious fervour ran high and, in the excitement, his foot was trodden on by a heavily built man named John Rogers. The injury was neglected, and it became necessary to amputate his leg ; after this he wore a wooden leg (whence his nickname). This added to his eccentricity. Rough and caustic of tongue, he had a remarkable fluency of speech especially when praying. Both in his sermons and in his prayers he made strange gestures, to the great amusement of the younger people. Two interesting anecdotes are told about him. In 1803 , at the invitation of Mrs. Anwyl of Llugwy , he went from Pennal to Tal-y-bont, Cards. , to preach . He was the first Independent to go there and it was from the mounting-block in front of the Black Lion inn that he delivered his sermon, which was the beginning of the Independent connexion in that place. On another occasion when he was preaching at Bedd-y-coediwr farm-house , Trawsfynydd , he made an astonishing impression on a very young man who later became one of the outstanding preachers of Wales and was known as Williams of Wern ’ ( William Williams , 1781 - 1840 , q.v.) . When he was out on tour he used to sell copies of the ‘ Association Letters ’ of the Independents , and, in this way, doubtless did much good in the rural districts. Towards the end of his life he settled near Saron , Llangeler, Carms. , and there he d., 6 Jan. 1847 .


  • Hanes Eglwysi Annibynnol Cymru , iii, 418;
  • Geiriadur Bywgraffyddol o Enwogion Cymru , i, 197;
  • Geirlyfr Bywgraffiadol o Enwogion Cymru (1870) , 231.


Reverend Richard Griffith Owen, M.A., (1890-1973), Bangor

Published date: 1959