Dictionary of Welsh Biography

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JAMES , JOHN ( 1779 - 1864 ), the first Unitarian minister in Cardiganshire, and schoolmaster ;

b. on Ash Wednesday 1779 at Glynderi , Rhydybenne , Llangeler, Carms. His name is entered in the list of subscribers to Telyn Dewi as one of Davis Castell-hywel 's pupils. In 1802 he sought admission to Carmarthen Academy but was refused because (or so he thought) he was a Unitarian . The same year he was, however, admitted to Exeter Academy under Kenrick and Bretland . After a stay there of only eighteen months he left with the intention of going to York Academy , Charles Lloyd (q.v.) however, persuaded him to accept a call from the young Unitarian churches of Cardiganshire . In 1803-4 he began his life's work by opening a school at Ystrad . In Aug. 1814 , having received a call from Gellionnen , he promised to look after its needs and preach there once a month. Early in 1815 he received a call from Bridgend and Betws , where he stayed from 26 May 1816 until 26 May 1818 (holding occasional services until 22 Nov. 1818 ). He then gave up Bridgend and devoted himself entirely to Gellionnen . He was a successful schoolmaster and a fluent preacher . He is said to have been disappointed because he was not given a tutorship at Carmarthen , and to have considered opening a specifically Unitarian academy at Neath with David Davis ( 1778 - 1846 ) (q.v.) but nothing came of this plan. He translated into Welsh Dr. Priestley 's catechism, 1805 ; and two dissertations, the first on the words Redemption, Ransom, Purchase … and the second on Words used in the New Testament in relation to Sacrifices , 1807 . In 1808-11 he published Ymofyniad am Sylfaen yr Athrawiaeth o Haeddiant Crist in four volumes. In 1824 he published a translation, Ymofyniad tawel i'r Athrawiaeth Ysgrythurol am Berson Crist , of a work by Thomas Belsham . He d. 1 Sept. 1864 at the age of 85 and was buried in Pantydefaid cemetery.


  • Yr Ymofynnydd , 1864 (244), 1895 (49), 1890 , 1891 , 1892 , 1897 — a series of articles by T.T.;
  • Yr Ymofynnydd , Aug. 1938 , 124-5 Aug. 1942 , 118-23.


Reverend Thomas Oswald Williams, M.A., (1888-1965), Lampeter

Published date: 1959