Dictionary of Welsh Biography

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POPKIN , JOHN ( fl. 1759-1824 ), Methodist and Sandemanian exhorter .

He was a wealthy gentleman , one of the Popkins of Ynysdawe and Forest ; he lived at Plas Tal-y-garn c. 1801 [having m. Mary , daughter of James Prichard of Collennau near Tonyrefail , who had at one time lived at Tal-y-garn-fawr ], but resided at Forest , Llansamlet , in the latter years of his life. The date of his joining the Methodists is not known but he came into prominence in 1759 as an exhorter who opposed the return of Howel Harris in the Associations. He came under the influence of the doctrines preached by J. Glass and R. Sandeman c. 1760 , and caused turmoil in some of the societies. He went on a missionary tour of North and South Wales and founded Sandemanian societies at Swansea , Llangadock , and Carmarthen . Williams of Pantycelyn opposed his views in the Association, and Popkin was excommunicated. He now began to translate into Welsh , and to publish, the works of Glass and Sandeman Anghyfreithlondeb Bwyta Gwaed , 1764 ; Llythyrau rhwng Samuel Pike a Robert Sandeman , 1765 ; and similar books until 1768 . Before the end of the 18th cent. he had begun to publish a series of testy, controversial books of his own authorship and continued to do so for some years — Dychymmygion Dynol yn nghylch Ffydd , 1797 ; Llythyr oddi wrth John Popkin at y Parch. David Jones … yngylch Natur Crefydd , 1801 . In 1812 he published a book attacking the bishop of S. Davids , Traethawd yn nghylch Natur ‘Ty Dduw’ neu ‘Eglwys Crist ,’ and another similar one in 1813 . [In 1816 he published Caniadau Cristionogol , a collection of his hymns.] Later on, two English books appeared: Further Remarks on the Unitarian … Doctrine , 1815 , and Observations on the Coming of the Son of God , 1821 . In 1824 he published Llythyr I oddiwrth J. Popkin at Gyfaill , and Llythyr II, etc. , the same year. His writings are an extraordinary rigmarole but display a considerable knowledge of the Scriptures, along with confused thinking and an embittered temper. The date of his death is not known.


  • Thomas Shankland in Cofiant J. R. Jones, Ramoth yn cynnwys casgliad helaeth o'i lythyrau (Carmarthen, 1913) , 757;
  • G. M. Roberts Y Pêr Ganiedydd [Pantycelyn]. Cyfrol 1 Trem ar ei fywyd; Cyfrol 2: Arweiniad i'w waith (Aberystwyth, 1949, 1958) , 132-48, 156.


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

Published date: 1959