Dictionary of Welsh Biography


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JONES, IORWERTH (1913-1992), minister, author and editor.

One of the four children of Edward Jones and his wife, Catherine Rowlands, Iorwerth Jones was born October 17 1913 at 90 Melrose Road, Kirkdale, Liverpool. His father originated from Brithdir Coch in the parish of Llanfihangel-yng-Ngwynfa, his mother from Drws-y-coed in Dyffryn Nantlle; he had come to work in Liverpool docks and his mother worked as a maid in Bootle. They met in Trinity Road Chapel, Bootle. From their wedding in 1912 until the cause ended in 1928, the Independent chapel in Trinity Road was the family's spiritual home, and it was here Iorwerth became a member, in the last Communion service held there.

He was educated in Fonthill Road Primary School, near his home, and in Oulton Secondary School, in the city centre. He enjoyed the bustle and variety of Liverpool as a city - the free library in Brock Street, the baths in the poorest areas of the city, the films and the ‘variety’ and plays in the theatres, and the football in Goodison Park. His dedication to the blue shirts of Everton was constant and unyielding! By the time he reached the sixth form his mind was set on serving in the Christian Ministry. By now his family were members of Great Mersey St. Independent Chapel. It was here he started preaching in 1930, and the following year he went to Bangor University and Bala-Bangor College. He graduated with honours in Philosophy and later in Theology. His favourite subject was Christian Doctrine in his latter degree, but it was John Morgan Jones, Church History Lecturer and Principal of Bala-Bangor College, who left the most lasting religious influence on him.

He was ordained as minister of Pant-teg church, Ystalafera in 1938 and served there diligently for twenty one years and in addition to his faithful service to a church famed for its activities, he promoted yr Ymgyrch Newydd yng Nghymru (the New Campaign in Wales), the activities of the the activities of the Blaendulais Ecumenical Centre and in 1949 he started Y Crynhoad (the Welsh Reader's Digest).

On August 15 1940 he married Nesta Roberts from Llandegái, Bangor, a nurse by profession, whose roots were in Anglesey, her father from Llanfairpwllgwyngyll, her mother from Llangoed. They had two daughters, Nia and Eurgain, and a son, Powys. He accepted a call to Capel Als, Llanelli in 1969, and remained there until he was elected General Secretary of the Union of Welsh Independents in 1975. Prior to this he had been elected President of the Union of Independents and delivered his address in Dolgellau in 1971 under the title “The Christian Ministry - its Crisis and its Necessity”. He retired in 1981.

Iorwerth Jones became editor of Y Dysgedydd in 1952, the monthly magazine of the Welsh Independents and he continued in this role for nigh on eighteen years. When it amalgamated with the Presbyterians' Y Drysorfa in 1969, he was the first editor of the new magazine, Porfeydd. In 1972 he was chosen as the editor of the Independents' weekly newspaper, Y Tyst. He was a very lively and able editor.

He wrote a biography, David Rees Y Cynhyrfwr, which was published in 1971, and he was awarded an University of Wales M.A. and the Ellis Griffiths Memorial Prize for his work. In 1988 he published Dyddiau Lobscows yn Lerpwl, a volume of early reminiscences. Even though he was the biographer of David Rees, arch-enemy of Tories, Churchmen and Catholics in turn, and even though he himself scathingly criticised several factions and denominations, including his own denomination, he never wavered in his appreciation of the wealth of traditions in the family of Faith, and he was President of the Welsh Council of Churches 1982-1984. As editor, he encouraged writers of all ages, and his maxim in this role was C.P. Scott's words, which he often quoted "Comment is free, but facts are sacred." In the words of his predecessor as General Secretary, Rev. Trebor Lloyd Evans: “fel pregethwr a golygydd a dadleuwr dros egwyddorion yr efengyl a'i safonau, saif yn y rheng flaenaf o amddiffynwyr y Ffydd ynghanol blynyddoedd di-gred yr 20fed ganrif” ('as a preacher, editor and advocate of the principles of the Gospel and its standards, he stands in the front rank of defenders of the Faith in the faithless years of in the 20th century').

Iorwerth Jones died on March 15 1992 in Llanelli. His funeral service was held in Capel Als, Llanelli and in Morriston Crematorium.

Sources:

  • Blwyddiadur yr Annibynwyr Cymraeg (Yearbook) 1993;
  • Y Tyst , April 2, 1992;
  • Iorwerth Jones, Dyddiau Lobsgows yn Lerpwl (1988).

Author:

Reverend Derwyn Morris Jones, Swansea

Published date: 2011