Dictionary of Welsh Biography


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GRIFFITH , ALEXANDER (d. 1676 ), cleric and controversialist .

Born about 1601 at Llysfaen in Caerns. Educated at Oxford , he was promoted to livings in the diocese of BangorTrefeglwys in 1622 , Llanwnog in 1633 — and that of S. Davids , Glasbury , in 1639 . He was ejected from Llanwnog under the act for the propagation of the gospel ( 1650-3 ), and from the vicarage of Glasbury , where particularly odious charges were laid against him. Naturally he was in high indignation against the whole propagation policy and especially against Vavasor Powell , who to him was not only the ‘metropolitan of the itinerants’ but also responsible for the drastic treatment of the Anglican clergy of lower Montgomery and the county of Radnor . In 1652 he organized a petition against the working of the act and published a pamphlet in support; in 1654 he supplied a True and Perfect Relation of the whole transaction of 1652 , and addressed it to the new Protector ; in the same year he brought forth Strena Vavasoriensis , a tract of twenty-eight pages in which Vavasor 's whole course of life, his doctrines (with skilful distortions of them), and his opposition to the Protectorate were described in a style of unbridled vituperation (it was soon answered by the Vavasoris Examen et Purgamen ). [There is not much doubt that Griffith was present at Blackfriars to hear Powell 's denunciation of the Protectorate in Dec. 1653 ; it is certain that he supplied secretary Thurloe with letters incriminating some of the anti-Protectorate leaders in Wales (dated 1654 , mainly).] The evidence of his virulent pamphlets was accepted by most Anglican critics of the Puritan dispensation, notably by Dr. John Walker in his Sufferings (see especially pp. 147-170). Such a fiery, unpeaceable character was not likely to receive the ‘fifths’ allowed to ejected clergymen by the Act; but the Puritan authorities relented so far as to allow him to keep school at Hay from 1658 onwards. The Restoration restored him to the vicarage of Glasbury ; before 1665 he was rector of Llyswen as well; when his son Godfrey was appointed to the latter, Alexander Griffith was given (but not before 1670 ) the living of Llanelieu ; for some years after 1662 he sat as one of the surrogates in the consistory court of Brecon . He d. at Glasbury 21 April 1676 , just at the juncture when replies were expected to be sent up for archbishop Sheldon 's religious census of that year; that, presumably, is the reason why no return has been preserved from the parish of Glasbury .

Sources:

  • T. Richards , Religious Developments in Wales, 1654–1662 , 1923 , 297-8 (family connections);
  • Rawlinson Manuscript at the Bodlean Library, Oxford. 261 (78) (Cymd. Llên reprint) and Bodl. J. Walker , 7th ed., (214);
  • T. Richards , A History of the Puritan Movement in Wales , 1920 , 280-1 (analysis of two tracts);
  • Strena Vavasoriensis a New Years gift for the Welsh itinerants or a hue and cry after Mr. Vavasor Powell , 1654, reprinted for "Cymdeithas Llen Cymru", 1915 in Cymd. Llên reprints, red series, 3;
  • Lambeth Manuscripts 987/54, 639/335;
  • Salt MS. 2112 in the William Salt Library, Stafford (393-6) .

Author:

Thomas Richards, D.Litt., (1878-1962), Bangor

Published date: 1959