Dictionary of Welsh Biography

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JAMES , DAVID ( Dewi o Ddyfed ; 1803 - 1871 ), cleric and author .

Born 6 Jan. 1803 at Manordivy, Pembs. , the son of Abraham and Ann James . Educated at Cardigan grammar school and Ystrad Meurig , he was ordained deacon 19 Nov. 1826 , with a title to Grandston, Pembs. , and priest 2 Sept. 1827 . He was licensed to Jordanston, Pembs. , 31 July 1828 , and served as curate of Almondbury, Yorks. , 1829-36 . Whilst at Almondbury he m. twice. His first wife was Margaret Batty , of Fenay Hall , and the second Emma Armitage of Milnsbridge House . There were two children of the first marriage and three of the second. In 1836 he obtained the living of Kirkdale , Liverpool . The degree of M.A. was conferred on him by the archbishop of Canterbury in 1849 , and that of Ph.D. by the University of Heidelberg in 1853 . In Feb. 1853 he was appointed warden of Llandovery College , but in 1854 he accepted the living of Marsden, Yorks. He was instituted to Pantêg, Mon. , 11 Nov. 1856 , and remained there until his death on 2 Aug. 1871 .

He was an ardent Welshman , and became a well-known figure on the eisteddfod platform . He was bitterly opposed to the appointment of non-Welsh-speaking bishops and incumbents to sees and livings in Wales . Whilst in England he became an active member of the ‘ Association of Welsh Clergy in the West Riding of the County of York ,’ a society which was greatly concerned with the question of non- Welsh -speaking incumbents. The 1856 meeting of the Association was held at Marsden Vicarage, where David James was incumbent.

Amongst his published works are The Patriarchal Religion of Britain; or a Complete Manual of Ancient British Druidism , 1836 ; a lecture on The Doctrine of the Trinity , 1839 ; a pamphlet on The Pope's Supremacy Disproved and the Apostolic Origin and National Independence of the British Church Demonstrated , 1849 ; a lecture on Purgatory , 1851 ; a sermon Peter without a Primacy and the Pope a Usurper , 1851 ; a lecture The Siege of Derry , 1851 ; The Apostolic Origin and Scriptural Character of the Rite of Confirmation (2nd ed. 1851 ). Thomas James ( Llallawg ) was a brother, and H. A. James was his son.


  • J. Morgan , A Biography of the Reverend David James … Dewi o Ddyfed, sometime rector of Panteg (Pontypool, 1925) ;
  • Cardiff Free Libraries: Catalogue of Printed Literature in the Welsh Department (1898) ;
  • Transactions of the Royal National Eisteddfod of Wales (Cardiff, 1884) , 613;
  • Y Geninen , March 1888 , 1889 , 1897 ;
  • Eminent Welshmen: a short biographical dictionary of Welshmen ... from the earliest times to the present (1908) ;
  • Bradney in Journal of the Welsh Bibliographical Society , iii, 243;
  • S. Davids Diocesan Records at the National Library of Wales ;
  • Llandaff Diocesan Records at the National Library of Wales ;
  • NLW MS 9261;
  • Yr Haul , Nov. 1871 .


Griffith Milwyn Griffiths, M.A., Aberystwyth

Published date: 1959