Dictionary of Welsh Biography

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WILLIAM(S) , LEWIS ( 1774 - 1862 ), the most remarkable of the peripatetic teachers appointed by Thomas Charles of Bala ;

b. in 1774 at Gwastadgoed , Pennal , the son of William and Susan Jones ; his parents were very poor, and the father died when Lewis was only four years of age, leaving the mother to the care of the parish. At the age of 16, Lewis joined the county militia ; later he was apprenticed to a shoe-maker in Cemaes, Mont. , where, at the age of 18, he found religion. Recalled to the militia , he served at Dover and Penzance . Next, being moved by the illiteracy of the masses, he started a school at Llanegryn , although he himself was unable to read — he used to get someone to help him to prepare for the next session of his school. Thomas Charles heard about him, and insisted on seeing him; he arranged for him to get a quarter's schooling, and then appointed him a paid teacher (at £3 a year, subsequently raised to £4) in his circulating schools. Lewis worked in this capacity in various places in the hundred of Merioneth for the next twenty-five years; among his pupils may be mentioned Mary Jones (the girl who got the Bible from Thomas Charles ) and Roger Edwards (q.v.) . He learned to read Welsh , to understand elementary arithmetic, and to some extent to follow English ; his reports were detailed. He also took part in the work of the Sunday school , and in 1807 began to preach — he was admitted a regular preacher by his monthly meeting in 1815 . At one time ( 1812 ) he was in the service of the governors of Madam Bevan's schools as master at Llangelynnin , and was offered a permanent appointment, which he declined, as he did not wish to settle in South Wales . He m. in 1819 , and in 1824 he and his wife went to live in the chapel house at Llanfachreth , near Dolgelley . He d. 14 Aug. 1862 at the age of 88. He was described as ‘a little man, with a little mind, and little ability’; but, for all that, his faithfulness and industry were exceptional.


  • R. Owen , Ysgolfeistriaid Mr. Charles o'r Bala (Dolgellau, 1898) , 127-48 (with a portrait).


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

Published date: 1959