Dictionary of Welsh Biography

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JONES , THEOPHILUS ( 1759 - 1812 ), the historian of Brecknock ;

b. 18 Oct. 1759 (not 1758 ) at Brecon , son of Hugh Jones , at that time curate of Llanfaes there, later vicar of Llangamarch ( 1763-8 ) and of Llywel ( 1768-99 ), and prebendary of Christ College , Brecon — his wife Elinor (d. 1786 ) was daughter of Theophilus Evans (q.v.) , and the historian spent much of his boyhood at Llwyn Einion , Llangamarch , his grandfather's home, and inherited historical documents from him. He was educated at Christ College school under David Griffith ( 1726 - 1816 ) (q.v.) ; Edward Davies ( 1756 - 1831 ) (q.v.) , his lifelong friend, was his schoolmate. Jones practised in law for a considerable period, but on being appointed deputy-registrar of the archdeaconry he gave up his private practice and devoted himself to historical research . He m. Mary Price of Porth-y-rhyd (near Llandovery ), and went to live in his father's former house in Lion Street , which still stands — it was the house in which bishop George Bull had died.

It would seem that the History of the County of Brecknock was conceived c. 1800 . The first volume appeared in 1805 , the second (dedicated to Edward Davies ) in 1809 . In his later years Jones was very friendly with Thomas Price ( Carnhuanawc , q.v.) . He d. 15 Jan. 1812 , and was buried at Llangamarch . He was Welsh -speaking, author of an unpublished English version of Ellis Wynne 's Bardd Cwsc , and at one time owner of the ‘ Book of Aneirin ’ — this was given him by Anthony Bacon (q.v.) and passed after his death into Thomas Price 's hands. He had intended writing a history of Radnorshire , and contributed several papers to the Cambrian Register and to Archaeologia . In 1905 , Edwin Davies (q.v.) published a volume, Theophilus Jones, Historian , containing these papers, Jones 's letters to Edward Davies and Walter Davies ( Gwallter Mechain , q.v.) , and a biography by Gwenllian E. F. Morgan (q.v.).

To this day, Jones 's work is the best of our Welsh county histories — a work of diligent and careful research. The author 's prejudices are too obvious to cause trouble — his anti-Popery, his dislike of Dissent and of Methodism (yet his article on Howel Harris , reprinted in the memorial volume mentioned, is not altogether unkindly), his prosaic nature which blinded him to the merits of Henry Vaughan the poet . A second edition with some additions was published by Edwin Davies in 1898 in one volume. In 1909-11 Davies began bringing out a third edition, which was completed by the county historical society in 1930 , with copious additions from the collections of the first baron Glanusk (see under Bailey of Glanusk ). In this handsome four-volume edition the work is indispensable for the student of the history of Brecknock and of Brecon .


Emeritus Professor Robert Thomas Jenkins, C.B.E., D.Litt., Ll.D., F.S.A., (1881-1969), Bangor

Corrections and additions:

JONES , THEOPHILUS ( 1759 - 1812 ; DWB , 513).

His first wife, Mary was the dau. of Rhys Price of Porth-y-rhyd, Carms. She was buried in Myddfai churchyard.


Reverend Gomer Morgan Roberts, M.A., (1904-93), Pont-rhyd-y-fen / St Dogmael's / Llandybïe

Published date: 1959