Dictionary of Welsh Biography


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DAVIES , WILLIAM ( 1805 - 1859 ), Independent minister and schoolmaster ;

b. 20 March 1805 at Pant-ysgyfarnog in Llan-y-crwys, Carms. , was educated first at Castell Hywel and then (after keeping school for six months at Ffald-y-brenin in his native parish) at Carmarthen Academy ( 1826-30 ), where he showed considerable linguistic and mathematical ability . He ministered for a few years (seemingly not too successfully) in Cornwall , being ordained ( 1832 ) at Helford and living at Truro ; but ill health compelled him to return home in 1834 . In 1835 he became tutor to the children of a land surveyor named Davies , at ‘ Froodvale ’ (in Welsh , Ffrwd-y-fâl ) in Llansawel , who built him a school-house which became quite famous as the seat of a preparatory school for aspirants to the ministry; the school elicited one of the very few laudatory reports of the royal commission of 1846 ( Report , i, 227). Davies also preached in the chapels of the district, and from 1841 to 1856 was pastor of a small congregation founded in 1840 by an uncle of his at Parc-y-rhos in Pencarreg parish. He was an unattractive preacher , and was suspected (incorrectly) of Unitarianism , partly because of the aridly academic nature of his discourses but more because he was persona grata among the Unitarians and acted annually as examiner at Carmarthen Academy ; his fairly copious writing all appeared in orthodox Independent periodicals. But he was undoubtedly a most capable teacher , and his scholarship was sound; he received in 1842 a complimentary Ph.D. degree from Germany — the university is not specified, but the fact is attested by one who had seen the diploma. At the end of 1854 he removed from Ffrwd-y-fâl to Troed-y-rhiw ( Allt-Walis ), again combining a family tutorship with a private school; but in 1856 he was appointed Hebrew and mathematical tutor at Carmarthen Academy . He d. at Carmarthen , 11 Dec. 1859 ; he was buried in the graveyard of Elim Independent chapel , Ffynnon-ddrain . His not immodest judgement upon himself was that ‘his only eminence consisted in his tact as a teacher.’

Sources:

  • Autobiographical fragment printed by G. Eyre Evans in no. 31 of his Antiquarian Notes , London, 1898-1906 ;
  • Hanes Eglwysi Annibynnol Cymru , iv, 95-6 (inexact);
  • Geirlyfr Bywgraffiadol o Enwogion Cymru , 1870 (with amusing reminiscences).

Author:

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

Published date: 1959