Dictionary of Welsh Biography


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LEWIS , DAVID WYRE ( 1872 - 1966 ), minister and administrator (B) ;

b. 13 May 1872 at Felinganol , Llanrhystud Mefenydd, Cards. , son of the poet and musician John Lewis (‘ Eos Glyn Wyre ’; 1836 - 1892 ; DWB , 556) , Tŷ-mawr , and Jane (née Davies ; 1844 - 1917 ), Felinganol , and nephew of the musician David Lewis ( 1828 - 1908 ; DWB , 550) . He was educated in the church school in the village, and was apprenticed to a carpenter at Trawsgoed . Because of lack of work locally he moved to Maerdy, Glam. , and then to Pen-y-graig , where he was baptised as a member of Soar church , Ffrwdamws and began preaching . Following a short period at night school in Porth and 14 months at Severn Grove Academy , Llanidloes ( 1893-94 ), he was accepted by Bangor Baptist College , but he postponed commencing his course until Sept. 1895 , spending the first year at the University College of Wales , Aberystwyth to matriculate, and the following four years at Bangor sharing the time between the University College and the Baptist College . On 3 July 1900 he was ord. minister of Nefyn and Morfa Nefyn churches, where he built a new chapel for the first and put the finances of the latter in order, and had ‘totally inexplicable’ experiences during the Revival of 1905 . On 19 Apr. 1910 he was inducted minister of Calfaria church , Llanelli , where he came face to face with the disturbances of the railway strike in Aug. 1911 . He moved 1 Sept. 1913 to Penuel church , Rhosllannerchrugog , where he carried out his most mature work and where he was required from the beginning, as in Llanelli , to assimilate his personal ministry with the social gospel which was gaining ground among the church members. He retired 7 Apr. 1946 , but continued to live in the district.

He was an experienced conference man and a leading member of his denomination. He was secretary of Caernarfon Baptist Association , 1906-10 , secretary of the Denbigh, Flint, and Merioneth Association , 1919-39 , and took particular responsibility from 1934 onwards for the requirements of the Sustentation Fund . He was president of the Assembly ( Cymanfa ) twice ( 1930-31 , 1954-55 ), and having previously addressed the Union ( 1910 , 1920 ) he was elevated president 1938-39 . He published his 1920 address, Crist a'r werin and the 1939 address, Yr Eglwys a'i chyfle heddiw . He was chairman of the Memorial Fund , the committee for the new hymnal, Y Llawlyfr Moliant Newydd ( 1955 ), and the Sustentation Fund committee ( from mid-1950s until his d.), and organizer in Wales for the Reorganizing Fund ( Trysorfa Ad-drefniad ; 1944 ).

He was a prolific writer and published a short memoir in J.T. Rees (ed.), Detholiad o donau, anthemau a rhanganau Dafydd Lewis, Llanrhystud ( 1930 ), and Yr eglwysi a'r Undeb. Y weinidogaeth a'i pherigl heddiw ( 1939 ). He was at the forefront in the revival of Seren Gomer in 1909 , was editor of the periodical, 1910-16 , laying special emphasis on his ‘notes on books’, and his articles down to the 1930s include biographies of contemporary Baptists of Wales , reports of annual conferences and substantial essays on various topics. He contributed much to Yr Hauwr (later Yr Heuwr ) and its successor Yr Arweinydd Newydd , from 1904 to the mid-1930s .

He was awake to the needs of the nation as well as his denomination. He was secretary of Llŷn and Eifionydd Temperance Association . Being a pacifist through and through, he was a member of the group which initiated Y Deyrnas , Oct. 1916 , and secretary and recorder for the Peace Conference which was convened at Llandrindod 3-5 Sept. 1917 . In 1940-41 he was chairman of the Committee for safeguarding Welsh Culture , and when it joined the National Union of Welsh Societies in 1941 to form the New Wales Union ( Undeb Cymru Fydd ) he was from the beginning a member of the Council and several committees of the new body and later chairman and president . The University of Wales conferred on him an hon. D.D. in 1961 , and many considered him to be the most important Baptist of the 20 c. in Wales .

He m. (1), 13 Apr. 1904 , Elizabeth Ellen Roberts ( 1896 - 1941 ), Holyhead ; (2) 20 May 1946 , Eleanor Thomas (b. Dodd ), Pen-y-cae , Wrexham . Two sons were born of the first marriage. He d. 9 May 1966 at his home, Tŷ Cerrig , Pen-y-cae , and his ashes were interred in his first wife's grave in his mother-church, Salem , Llanrhystud .

Sources:

  • N.L.W., MSS. from his library, particularly the main collection of 1969, which includes a holographic autobiography to 1914, see Annual Report of the National Library of Wales , Aberystwyth , 1969 , 28-9;
  • for particulars of other collections, ibid. 1970 , 32, and 1976 , 45;
  • NLW MSS 8177-277, a collection of music, letters, etc., belonging to his father John Lewis and uncle David Lewis — see ibid., 1929 , 23-4, and Handlist of Manuscripts in the National Library of Wales , 1940 ff , iii, s.n.;
  • NLW, a holographic family tree produced by E.T. Price , Llanrhystud;
  • Caernarfon Association Statement , 1905-06 Caernarfon Association, 1905-06 , 7-9;
  • Denbigh, Flint and Meirioneth Association Letter , 1925 , 1930-31 , 3-13, 1938-39 , 23 and 1954-55 , 3-4;
  • Adroddiad of annual Services of the Baptist Union of Wales, 1910 , 56-63;
  • Adroddiad Undeb Bedyddwyr Cymru. , 1938-39 , 5-16, and 1965-66 , 16;
  • Y Greal sef Cylchgrawn Misol at wasanaeth y Bedyddwyr , 1904 , 305 and 1910 , 136;
  • Seren Cymru , 27 July 1900 , 8 Apr., 6 May 1910 , 1 Aug., 12 Sept. 1913 , 16 Mar. 1928 , 1 Sept. 1939 , 18 Apr., 16 May 1941 , 3 May 1946 , and 27 May. 3, 10 June 1966 ;
  • Seren Gomer , 1920 , 259-69, 1939 , 41-5, 1940 . 41-7, 1961 , 1-6, and 1966 , 29-60 (memorial number);
  • Seren yr Ysgol Sul yn cynwys bywgraffiaeth, hanesiaeth naturiol, barddoniaeth, cerddoriaeth, &c.; , Llanelli , 1939 , 198-203;
  • Y Genhinen , 1950-1 , 205-8;
  • Y Deyrnas , Bangor , 1917, June 6-7, July 6, Aug. 6, Sept. 5-6, and Oct. 12;
  • S. Rowley (ed. Lewis Valentine ), Hanes Eglwys Penuel Rhosllannerchrugog , Llandysul, 1959 , (1959) , 124-33, 159;
  • Undeb Cymru Fydd. Adroddiad blynyddol , 1965-6 , [4-5];
  • The Baptist Union of Wales Handbook and Diary , 1967 , 115-6;
  • Baptist Handbook , 1967 , 365;
  • The Cefn Chronicle , 6, 13 Sept. 1913 ;
  • Rhos Herald , 20 Nov. 1943 , 15 Apr. 1946 , and 22 Apr. 1961 ;
  • The Wrexham Leader , 13, 20 May 1966 ;
  • information from his daughter-in-law, Mrs. J. C. Lewis, Llanrhystud , and E. R. Morris, Llanidloes ;
  • personal acquaintance.

Author:

Benjamin George Owens, M.A., Aberystwyth

Published date: 2001