Dictionary of Welsh Biography

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JAMES , JOHN ( 1777 - 1848 ), Baptist minister, hymn writer, bookbinder, and printer ;

b. at Aberystwyth 29 Aug. 1777 , the eldest of eight children of James David John and Elizabeth Jones . He was baptized there on 27 March 1796 , and became a member of Bethel church . He was apprenticed to a shoemaker , but started to preach in Sept. 1799 , and after a course of study of some months at Cardigan and Aberystwyth , he became co-pastor , with Samuel Breeze (q.v.) , of Bethel church and its branches. After a period of exceptional activity in the town and in the surrounding districts, he moved, in March 1817 , to Pont-rhyd-yr-ynn, Mon. , and, in May 1827 , to Bridgend , where he d. on 30 Jan. 1848 . On 30 Sept. 1804 he had m. Catherine Davies , a member of Bethel , Aberystwyth , and three children were born to them. He was also taught the craft of bookbinding , and in May 1808 he opened a book-shop at Aberystwyth . In May 1809 he established the first printing press in the town, in his house in Bridge Street , but it was not a financial success, and he was obliged, in Sept. 1812 , to sell his share of the business to his partner. The best-known publication from the press was Pigion o Hymnau , 1811 , a collection of hymns of his own composition. He also published Etholedigaeth wedi ei Hystyried mewn Pregeth ( Carmarthen , 1808 ), and Hanes Cymdeithas Llundain er Taeniad Cristianogrwydd y'mhlith yr Iuddewon ( Aberystwyth , 1811 ). N.L.W. MS. 692 contains sermons and memoranda in his hand.


  • John Evans , Cofiant y diweddar Barch. John James, gweinidog y Bedyddwyr yn Mhenybont-ar-Ogwy, ac ysgrifenydd y gymanfa y perthynai iddi dros ugain mlynedd yn cynwys hanes ei fywyd, ei lafur, ei lwyddiant, ei nodweddiadau, ei farwolaeth, &c., ynghyd â rhai o'i bregethau , Cardiff, 1849 , 1849 ;
  • Hanes y Bedyddwyr yn Nghymru , 1893–1907 , iii, 391, 399;
  • J. Ifano Jones , A history of printing and printers in Wales to 1810, and of successive and related printers to 1923 , 1925 , 202-4.


Benjamin George Owens, M.A., Aberystwyth

Published date: 1959