Dictionary of Welsh Biography

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JONES , DAVID HUGH (‘ Dewi Arfon ’, 1833 - 1869 ), minister (CM), schoolmaster and poet .

Born in Ty Du , Llanberis, Caern. , 6th July 1833 , to Hugh and Ellen Jones . He was the eldest of 4 children; one brother was Griffth Hugh Jones , (‘ Gutyn Arfon ’) , composer of the hymn-tune ‘ Llef ’, written in memory of Dewi Arfon . When Dewi Arfon was about 5, he went to a school kept by Ellis Thomas , in Capel Coch , Llanberis , and then to a school kept by John Evans , Ceunant Coch . He left school at 11, and went to work with his father in the quarry . He studied assiduously during his leisure hours and mastered the rules of poetry, music, arithmetic and English and Welsh grammar. In the spring of 1853 , he caught a chill and was very ill in the early summer of that year. He returned to the British School , Dolbadarn , kept by David Evans (later the Revd. David Evans of Dolgellau ), intending to become a school-teacher . After consulting John Phillips , Bangor ( 1810 - 1867 ) he decided to go to Borough Road College , London , and to mark the occasion, a testimonial was presented to him in January 1856 by the Literary Society of Capel Coch , Llanberis . He went at his own expense to Borough Road , and after a year gained a teacher's certificate, second class. For four years after that, he was a teacher in the British School , Llanrwst . He became a close friend of Trebor Mai ( Robert Williams ) and other local poets . While in Llanrwst he became interested in poetry. He was the teacher when John Lloyd Williams , musician and botanist , was a pupil there.

Towards the end of this period, he began to preach . However, it was in Capel Coch , Llanberis , in 1861 , that he was officially accepted by his denomination to be a minister , and in 1862 , he went as a student to the school kept by Eben Fardd ( Ebenezer Thomas ) in Clynnog . He was accepted as a minister to serve the whole circuit of the Arfon Presbytery in 1863 . During Eben Fardd 's illness he taught in the school , and he followed Eben Fardd in the post. He was ordained to the full work of the ministry in the Association held at Llangefni in June 1867 . He was a better teacher than Eben Fardd , because of his lively manner while in school. A school building and a house were built for him, but he died before he could enter either.

His health was frail. He had to leave Clynnog , and return to Ty Du , Llanberis , where he died on Christmas morning, 1869 . He was buried in the cemetery at Nant Peris , and money collected as a testimonial to him during his illness was used to erect a gravestone. A strange story is told about his death: between five and six in the morning, he called his sister and asked her to set the alarm clock to strike at 9, and, at exactly 9 o'clock, he died. He was considered to be a talented musician , though he was not a singer , and he was very popular as an adjudicator for music and poetry . He was considered to be a good poet , and, according to his obituary, his ode ‘ Tywylltiad yr Ysbryd Glân ar Ddydd y Pentecost ’ came high on the list in the competition in the Denbigh eisteddfod of 1860 . but a quotation from the poem in the adjudication shows that he was ‘ Awenydd ’, the third of four competitors.

He excelled as a writer of englynion , especially epitaphs for gravestones, and his best-known englyn was his epitaph for John Jones ( 1796 - 1857 ), Talysarn . This is not on John Jones 's grave in the cemetery in Llanllyfni , but on the memorial column near Tanycastell , his old home in Dolwyddelan .


  • Gweithiau Dewi sef, cynhyrchion barddonol a rhyddieithol y diweddar Barch. David Jones (Dewi Arfon) (Caernarfon, 1873) , ed., Gutyn Arfon , 1873 );
  • Y Gwyddoniadur Cymreig (1889-96) (2 ed.), 10, 538;
  • Eminent Welshmen: a short biographical dictionary of Welshmen ... from the earliest times to the present (1908) ;
  • Anthropos , Camrau Llwyddiant: trem ar fywyd Dewi Arfon (Wrexham, 1901) ;
  • W. Hobley , Hanes Methodistiaeth Arfon ( 1910 );
  • Carneddog , ‘Tri Chyfaill’, Cymru (O.M.E.) , 14 (1898), 176-178;
  • Y Drysorfa , March 1870 , 114-115;
  • G. H. Arfon (Gutyn Arfon), Manion penill, englyn ac adgof (Conwy, 1919) ;
  • Y Gwyneddigion Cyfansoddiadau Eisteddfod Dinbych 1860; a'r beirniadaethau; yn nghyd a hanes ei gweithrediadau. Rhan 1 (Denbigh, 1862) (1862) , 11;
  • J. Lloyd Williams , Atgofion tri chwarter canrif (Aberystwyth) (1941) , 30.


Derwyn Jones, M.A., Bangor / Colwyn Bay

Published date: 2001