Dictionary of Welsh Biography


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LLEWELYN , WILLIAM ( 1735 - 1803 ), Independent minister ;

b. at Coity, Glam. , in 1735 (christened 21 March in the parish church), eldest of the four children of a shoemaker Thomas Llewelyn and his wife Alice ( Cox , of Gloucestershire ), members of the congregation of Lewis Jones ( 1702? - 1772 ) (q.v.) at Bridgend . Apprenticed to a brewer in the town, he attended a night-school and began to preach ; in Jan. 1759 he went to Abergavenny Academy . He was ordained ( 31 Aug. 1763 ) pastor at Hereford , but left there abruptly in 1763 . The various accounts of his career during the following years cannot be reconciled: according to H. Egl. Ann. (ii, 527-8; iv, 347), he was pastor of Maesyronnen ( Radnorshire ) 1766-7 , and Beilihalog ( Gwenddwr , Brecknock ) 1766 — 7 — 1773 ; and it is also said that he was pastor of Garn ( Radnorshire ) from c. 1760 onwards — but as we know, he was at Abergavenny 1759-63 . One is tempted to suggest that Thomas Rees was correct in his first opinion (op. cit., ii, 531), that the Radnorshire Llewelyn was another man, and that his second thoughts (iv, 347) were mistaken. For it is quite certain, on the testimony of L. T. Nyberg , the contemporary Moravian ‘labourer’ at Leominster , that Llewelyn was pastor at Walsall in April 1769 at latest, and Brown ( Free Churches of Leominster ) says that he went to Walsall from Hereford . Llewelyn figures in the Leominster Moravian congregation-diary (excerpts in Traf. Cymd. Hanes Bed. , 1935 , 14-16); after the death of his wife (a daughter of John Jenkins , pastor at Bromyard ) his mind became unsettled , and though nominally pastor at Walsall he wandered around, ministering to other congregations. According to Kilsby Jones and J.T. J. , Bewdley was one of these places; but quite certainly he often visited Leominster — where, besides taking duty for Rees , the invalid Independent pastor , he also occupied the pulpit of the Baptist Joshua Thomas (q.v.) . Finally ( Aug. 1769 ), he resigned Walsall and succeeded Rees at Leominster , where he remained down to his sudden death (in his pulpit) on 30 Jan. 1803 ; he had m. again, in 1772 , the daughter of one Morgan , a well-to-do shopkeeper in the town, and had had five children. It is clear that Llewelyn was a popular preacher (at any rate, in his earlier period); he is described as a man of fashionable garb, generous, and kindly, yet a strict and uncompromising disciplinarian. But it is also clear that his mind deteriorated as time went on. His friend Nyberg , in 1771 , suspected him of ‘ Socinianism ,’ but indeed Socinianism was far too respectable and consistent a term for the opinions which he proclaimed later on. His wife's means enabled him to publish a row of unsaleable books (titles in Kilsby Jones 's article). By the time of his death, his congregation had dwindled to a loyal handful, which was afterwards ministered-to by a banker named Griffiths ; Kilsby Jones reports that the ‘services’ consisted of readings from Llewelyn 's books. Congregationalism at Leominster had to be started afresh in 1864 ( Brown , op. cit.).

Sources:

  • J. R. Kilsby Jones in Y Traethodydd , 1851, 78-90 ;
  • Geiriadur Bywgraffyddol o Enwogion Cymru , ii, 199-200;
  • J. Gwili Jenkins , Hanfod Duw a Pherson Crist athrawiaeth y Drindod a Duwdod Crist, yn bennaf yn ei pherthynas â Chymru (Liverpool, 1931) , 172, 188;
  • and the references given above.

Author:

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

Published date: 1959