Dictionary of Welsh Biography


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GAMBOLD family.

There was a family of this name in Cardigan town in the 17th and 18th cent. When Lewis Morris of Anglesey was imprisoned at Cardigan in 1753 , and released on bail ( Morris Letters , f.n. on i, 223), he stayed at the house of a William Gamold — conceivably, but not very probably, the William Gambold with whom the present notice closes. Further, a Gambold or ‘ Gambwll ’ is repeatedly mentioned in the Morris Letters ; this was the captain of the customs-cutter Pelham at Holyhead (information from customs records at Holyhead ), and in one place ( Morris Letters , i, 446) he is described as ‘having introduced the Cardiganshire exercise among our squadrons.’

But the first Gambold who merits attention is WILLIAM GAMBOLD ( 1672 - 1728 ), cleric and grammarian . His son, bishop Gambold (in a letter printed in the preface to the first edition of John Walters 's English-Welsh Dictionary ), states that he was b. 10 Aug. 1672 , ‘of reputable parents’ who destined him for the church and gave him good schooling. But according to Foster ( Alumni Oxon .) he was eighteen, ‘pauper puer,’ son of William Gambold of Cardigan , when he matriculated at S. Mary Hall , Oxford , 23 May 1693 . He migrated to Exeter College in 1694 , but there is no record of graduation. On 1 Dec. 1709 ( West Wales Records , ii, 226, iii, 250) he became rector of Puncheston with Llanychaer, Pembs. , but it would seem that he had previously been curate there, for in Nov. 1707 ( Cymm. Trans. , 1904-5 , 186) he was keeping school at Llanychaer . His son tells us that he was a most devoted parish priest . At Oxford he had been a friend of Edward Lhuyd 's (q.v.) , who acknowledges help given to him by Gambold in preparing Lhuyd 's additions in Gibson 's edition of Camden 's Britannia . As early as 1707 , Gambold was planning a Welsh dictionary, and this became his main occupation later on, when an accident disabled him from parochial work. It was finished in 1722 , but Gambold failed to get money to publish it. In the Morris Letters (ii, 140-1, 221, 224), we hear of the bishop trying to sell the manuscript to the lexicographer Thomas Richards of Coychurch ( 1710 - 1790 ) (q.v.) — the Morrises (i, 114, ii, 150, 233), more suo , disparage the work. Later ( c. 1770 ), the manuscript came into the hands of another lexicographer , John Walters (q.v.) ; today it is at the National Library of Wales . William Gambold published in 1727 A Grammar of the Welsh Language ; it was reprinted after his day ( Llyfryddiaeth y Cymry , 346-7). He d. 13 Sept. 1728 .


Of William Gambold 's five sons, far and away the most celebrated is the eldest, JOHN GAMBOLD ( 1711 - 1771 ), Moravian bishop . His career touches Wales only at intervals, and is well sketched (with full references) by Alexander Gordon in the D.N.B. ; the present notice may therefore lean more to the Welsh side. Born 10 April 1711 at Puncheston , he matriculated 10 Oct. 1726 from Christ Church , where he came to know Charles Wesley and became one of the ‘ Oxford Methodists .’ He graduated in 1730 , was ordained in 1733 , and in 1735 was appointed vicar of Stanton Harcourt (near Oxford ); but in 1739 he met Zinzendorff and began to lean towards Moravianism . Resigning his living in 1742 , he m. in 1743 and returned to Pembrokeshire (details of his journey, Cymm. , xlv, 28), to keep school in Market-street , Haverfordwest . But in 1744 he removed to London and formally joined the Brethren's Church , in which he became a bishop in 1753 . Richard Morris had contacts with him in London ( Morris Letters , ii, 140-1, 221), and even his amused cynicism cannot help noting how the bishop ‘despises riches, having thrown up a good living to take up his present way of life, wherein he has no income at all, and delights in appearing poor and slovenly’ — his brother Lewis (ibid., ii, 224) comments: ‘such were the bishops of the primitive times.’ In 1768 , Gambold 's health broke down, and he returned (as congregation pastor ) to Haverfordwest , where he d. 13 Sept. 1771 (on the anniversary of his father's death); he was buried behind the Brethren's chapel . Over and above his mission-work, Gambold was a considerable Greek and Patristic scholar . His theology was ‘quietist’ and mystical. He had not forgotten his native language: in 1760 , he revised and saw through the press a Welsh translation ( Un Ymadrodd ar Bumtheg ynghylch Iesu Grist ) of Zinzendorff 's ‘ Berlin Discourses ,’ by Evan Williams ( 1724 - 1759 ) (q.v.) ; and in 1770 he published a Welsh Moravian hymn-book, Ychydig Hymnau allan o Lyfr Hymnau Cynulleidfaoedd y Brodyr (see Cymm. , xlv, 112) — three of the hymns were taken from vicar Prichard , the other thirty-four were Gambold 's own versions of English Moravian hymns; it must be confessed that they are rather stiff.


Two of William Gambold 's other sons deserve a word. The third son was GEORGE GAMBOLD (d. 1755 ). He, too, was for a while a Methodist ; we have a letter of his ( T.L., 1256 , 28 Dec. 1744 ) to Howel Harris , and in 1748 he was an exhorter . He continued his brother's school at Haverfordwest . In his turn, he too became a Moravian , and with John Sparks (q.v.) founded the society which was in 1763 to become the Moravian congregation at Haverfordwest — the only one in Wales .


On the other hand, the youngest of the brothers, WILLIAM GAMBOLD , never left the Methodist movement . He began to exhort in 1766 , and itinerated in North Wales ( Meth. Cymru , ii, 304); he was a great friend of Howell Davies 's ( Cylch. Cymd. Hanes M.C. , iv, 55). None the less, he was on the friendliest terms with the Brethren , and interesting reminiscences of his on the religious history of Pembrokeshire have been preserved in the Moravian archives at Haverfordwest (ibid., iv, nos. 1 and 2). It is just possible, though unlikely, that he was the William Gambold named at the beginning of the present notice; but by 1770 , at latest, he was farming near Llawhaden . He was still alive in 1794 .

Sources:

  • References given in the text.

Author:

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

Corrections and additions:

GAMBOLD , (FAMILY; DWB , 273-4).

Further information about this family has made necessary a revised entry. Changes are shown within square brackets.

[The name ‘ Gambold ’ (found in other parts of Britain ) appears in the parish of St. Dogmaels , very early; it should be noted that part of the parish, which lies geographically in Pembs. , belongs to the borough of Cardigan , across the river Teifi . A WILLIAM GAMBOLD was living in Cardigan in 1653 and was a member of the Court Leet . He appears to have had a son Hector , who in turn is believed (though the matter is not wholly clear) to have had two sons, TIMOTHY and WILLIAM (the grammarian below): Timothy had a son DAVID who died in 1761 . David 's descendants were his dau. ANNE who m. Benjamin Millingchamp , d. 1784 , Comptroller of the Customs at Cardigan (see Benjamin Millingchamp , DWB , 633) ; and this branch of the Gambold family is henceforth associated with that post. WILLIAM , David 's son, a freeholder in Cardigan ( West Wales Records , III, 77, under 1760 ), was a naval purser. He lived in Beaumaris and this is why his name appears in the letters of the Morris brothers of Anglesey ( Lewis , Richard , William , DWB , 661-62, 663-64, 666-67) and his exploits in skirmishes with smugglers in Anglesey and elsewhere are narrated. There can be little doubt that it was he who sheltered Lewis Morris in 1758 on his release from Cardigan jail . He was later captain of the customs-cutter Pelham . There are references in the Morris Letters — see the Index by Hugh Owen — and frequently in the Holyhead and London customs records to a GEORGE , himself a captain, perhaps an elder brother to William ].



The eldest son of Hector Gambold above was WILLIAM GAMBOLD , the grammarian ( 1672 - 1728 ), a burgess of Cardigan in virtue of his ownership of the Nag's Head tavern . His son John states that he was born 10 Aug. 1672 ‘of reputable parents who gave him a good education to prepare him for orders in the Church ' — but Foster , Alumni Oxon. , notes him as pauper puer and son of WILLIAM Gambold of Cardigan ; [there is some confusion in the records of his first college, St. Mary Hall (now kept in Oriel College ): there he is referred to as the son of ‘ William or Hector ’ and aged ‘18 or 20’ when he matriculated there 26 May 1693. ] He migrated to Exeter College ( 1694 ) but there is no record that he graduated. He was a friend of Edward Lhuyd ( DWB , 565-67) who says that he provided him with additions for his notes to the Gibson ed. of Camden 's Brittania ( 1695 ). He became rector of Puncheston with Llanychaer 1 Dec. 1709 ( West Wales Historical Records , II, 226 and III, 250) but it would seem that he had been there previously, perhaps as curate, for in Nov. 1707 he was keeping school at Llanychaer. As early as 1707 Gambold was planning a Welsh dictionary, and this became his main occupation when an accident later disabled him from parochial work. It was finished in 1722 but Gambold failed to get money to publish it. In the Morris Letters (I, 114; II, 150, 233) there are references to Bishop Gambold trying to sell the MS. to the lexicographer Thomas Richards of Coychurch ( 1710 - 1790 ; DWB , 854) — the Morrises characteristically tended to disparage the work. About 1770 the MS. came into the possession of another lexicographer , John Walters ( 1721 - 1797 ; DWB , 1011-12) and it is now at the National Library . William Gambold published A Grammar of the Welsh Language in 1727 , reprinted after his death in 1817 and several times afterwards. He d. 13 Sept. 1728 .

[ William Gambold 's wife was Elizabeth ; it is said that she was of the neighbouring parish of Letterston but her surname is not known.]



The most celebrated of their 5 children was JOHN GAMBOLD ( 1711 - 1771 ), Moravian bishop , b. 10 April 1711 in Puncheston . His career touches Wales only at intervals and it is reported fully by Alexander Gordon in D.N.B. ; here the Welsh , side of his life may be dealt with. He matriculated 10 Oct. 1726 from Christ Church where he came to know Charles Wesley and became one of the ‘ Oxford Methodists ’. He graduated in 1730 , was ordained in 1733 and appointed vicar of Stanton Harcourt , near Oxford ; but in 1739 he met Zinzendorf and became increasingly drawn to Moravianism . He resigned his living in 1742 , m. Elizabeth Walker in 1743 and returned to Pembrokeshire to keep school in Market Street , Haverfordwest (see Cymm. , 45, 28); but in 1744 he went to London and formally joined the Moravians — he became a bishop in 1753 . Richard Morris had contacts with him in London ( Morris Letters , II, 140-1, 221) and even his amused cynicism cannot help noting how the bishop ‘despises riches, having thrown up a good living to take up his present way of life, where he has no income at all, and delights in appearing poor and slovenly' — his brother Lewis (ibid. II, 224) comments; ‘such were the bishops of the primitive times’. In 1768 Gambold 's health broke down, and he returned as pastor to the Moravian congregation at Haverfordwest where he d. 13 Sept. 1771 and was b. in the graveyard behind the chapel, [now closed].

Over and above his mission work Gambold was a considerable Greek and Patristic scholar . His theology was ‘quietist’ and mystical. He had not forgotten his native language. In 1760 he revised and saw through the press Un Ymadrodd ar Bumtheg ynghylch Iesu Grist , a translation of Zinzendorf 's ‘ Berlin Discourses ’ by Evan Williams ( 1724 - 1758 ; DWB , 1037) ; and in 1770 he published a Welsh Moravian hymn book, Ychydig Hymnau allan o Lyfr Hymnau Cynulleidfaoedd y Brodyr ( Cymm. , 45, 112) — three of the hymns were taken from Vicar Prichard ( DWB , 795-6) , the other 34 were Gambold 's own versions of English Moravian hymns; it must be confessed that they are rather stiff.

[The order of the names of John Gambold 's brothers in the original art. is faulty: see now Journal of the Hist. Soc. Presb. Church of Wales , Sept., 1961 , for a more correct account based on their father's will. John was the eldest, b. 1711 , followed by WILLIAM , see below, b. 1712 or 1713 ; HECTOR , b. in Puncheston, 1714 , he emigrated to USA in 1742 and d. in Pennsylvania in 1788 ; GEORGE , see below; and a daughter MARTHA ].



William never left the Methodist movement . He began to exhort in 1766 ; he travelled in north Wales ( Meth. Cymru , II, 304) and he was a great friend of Howel Davies ( Journal of the Hist. Soc. of Presb. Church of Wales , 4, 55; DWB , 127). Nevertheless, he was on the friendliest terms with the Moravians and interesting reminiscences of his about the religious history of Pembrokeshire have been preserved in a MS. formerly in the Moravian archives at Haverfordwest (see nos. 1 and 2, Journal of the Hist. Soc. of the Presb. Church in Wales, 4). He was farming near Llawhaden in 1770 and was alive in 1794 .


George d. in 1755 . He too was, for a while, a Methodist . There is a letter from him to Howel Harris ( DWB , 339-40) ( T.L. 1256 , Dec. 1744 ), and in 1748 he was an exhorter . He continued his brother's school at Haverfordwest and in turn he too became a Moravian , founding with John Sparks ( DWB , 920) the society which was in 1763 to become the Moravian congregation at Haverfordwest .

Sources:

  • References given in the text and the art. on John Gambold in Oxford Dictionary of National Biography ;
  • information from Mr. Jack Gambold , Indiana, one of the descendants of Hector, brother of the bishop;
  • from the late Miss Lucy Williams, Holyhead ;
  • from Mrs. Agnes Dorset Thompson (née Gambold), Leeds ;
  • from Mr. C. V. Appleton, Cardiff ;
  • and from Gen. R. S. Lewis, Rhaeadr .

Author:

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

Published date: 1959