Dictionary of Welsh Biography

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JOHN , DAVID ( 1782? - 1853 ), Unitarian minister, a Chartist, and, by trade, a smith ,

of S. Clears, Carms. He left the Independents to join the Unitarian church founded at S. Clears by Benjamin Phillips (q.v.) , and received financial help from Unitarians to become one of their ministers , but was not at an academy. In 1816 he was serving, with Benjamin Phillips , the congregation that later settled at Capel y Graig , S. Clears . In 1826 he became minister of the Unitarian church at Twynyrodyn , Merthyr Tydfil , where he remained until 1847 , his Chartist and like activities causing repeated dissension that threatened his supersession, in 1835 , and led to the dispersal of the congregation, and the closing of the chapel, about twelve years later. He d. 15 Jan. 1853 , at the age of 71, and was buried at Cefn Coed y Cymer . At Merthyr Tydfil (and near his smithy) he established a school , where on Sundays and the evenings of week-days, subjects to help workmen in their occupations were taught.

His sons, DAVID JOHN and MATTHEW JOHN , were also prominent Chartists ; the former, a fiery soul, published, with Morgan Williams (q.v.) , the Welsh Chartist paper Udgorn Cymru , 1840-2 , and the English Advocate and Merthyr Free Press , 1840 , of which only five numbers appeared. He represented the Chartists of Glamorgan and Monmouthshire at the Manchester convention in 1839 .


  • Yr Ymofynnydd , 1853 , 1930 ;
  • David Williams , John Frost, A Study in Chartism (1939) , 332-4;
  • A History of Carmarthenshire , ii, 254;
  • C. Wilkins , The history of Merthyr Tydfil (Merthyr Tydfil, 1867) , 424-5;
  • Monthly Repository , 1816 , 682;
  • Cardiff Manuscript 4.207.


Edward Ivor Williams, (1885-1958), Newbridge, Monmouth

Published date: 1959