The following is a brief introduction to methodism in Glamorgan. It is not intended to be a detailed history, but a background for the use of family historians.
An Appendix to this history contains a table showing the whereabouts of the extant Methodist Church/Chapel christening, marriage and burial registers deposited in various archives, with the dates of those records.
THE NONCONFORMIST BACKGROUND IN BRITAIN
The period of religious turmoil following King Henry VIII's break with Rome and the see-sawing changes resulting from the religious views of his successors, Mary I (Catholic) and Elizabeth (Protestant) left the English Church in a weakened state by the time King James I ascended the English throne in 1603. The Protestant State religion, forced on the people, seemed unlikely to succeed. More than half the clergy had received no formal training, preachers were ill-used and often lived in poverty, leaving a breeding ground for dissent. Catholics hoped that the Stuarts would return to Catholicism, Puritans that closer links could be formed with the Presbyterians in Scotland.
(Note: The Calvinists who believed in replacing Episcopacy with elected ministers, had under the leadership of Thomas Cartwright, become known as "Purifiers" or "Puritans", whilst the Independants, who believed in the importance of the congregation over membership, led by Robert Browne had formed the first Congregational Meeting in Norwich in 1580.)
Under the early Stuart Monarchs, however, neither Catholics nor Puritans fared well, despite growing strength in Parliament. Puritans who refused to accept the discipline of the Established Church were suppressed and in 1604 300 Puritan clergy were ejected from their livings. In 1609 John Smythe seceded from the Amsterdam Church and formed the Baptist or Anabaptist group, which repudiated Calvinism and believed in delaying baptism until the people concerned were old enough to believe. Their first meeting was held in London in 1611and became known as the General Baptist. In 1616 the Independants formed a Congregation at Southwark, followed by ten more before 1631 and, by 1640, there were 80 Congregations. In 1633 a group of Calvinist sympathisers had left the Southwark Congregation to form the Particular Baptist Congregation, combining Calvinist with Baptist beliefs.
The Puritan movement expanded under King Charles I, leading to open suppression by the Established Church. The English Civil War, which resulted from a mixture of political, social & religious causes, was followed by the period of The Commonwealth. During this period the Independants formed new chapels at Yarmouth & Norwich in East Anglia (1642), the General Baptists at Portsmouth (1640) and Dover (1643), and the Particular Baptists at Taunton, Somerset (1647). At this time too, the Quakers expanded, despite persecution by the Commonwealth.
By the time of the Restoration of the Monarchy in 1660 the people had become sickened by the religious intolerance of the extreme Puritans. The pendulum now swung the other way, with persecution of the Puritans, particularly the Quakers. The Act of Uniformity of 1662 required all ministers to be ordained and to accept the Book of Common Prayer. Nearly 2000 ministers refused to conform and were ejected from their livings. There was some respite in 1672 with the Declaration of Indulgence, which gave some relief to Catholics and Protestant Non-conformists. This, however, proved shortlived, and the Test Act of 1673 debarred Catholics and Protestant Dissenters from holding civil or military office.
The accession of a Catholic monarch, James II, in 1685 brought hope to the Catholics and the King actually intended, initially, to ensure tolerance for all religious groups. It was at this time that large numbers of Protestant Huguenots settled in Britain to escape from French persecution. Angered by the lack of support for his tolerance King James opened up office to more Catholics and thus increased anti-Catholic feeling. As a result both Catholic churches and Dissenting Meeting Houses were the target of violence and eventually James was forced from the throne.
The Toleration Act of 1689 seemed to provide greater hope for dissenters and over the following twenty years 1000 new dissenting congregations were established. This was accompanied by closer bonds between the various dissenting organisations. In addition Catholics and Quakers were given a certain amount of toleration.
During this period the Established Church became remote from its parishioners and the clergy seemed to be more interested in worldly goods than in the care of the people of their parish. Pluralism (the practice of clergy holding the livings of several parishes at the same time) was rife. The people felt neglected. As a result a small group within the church led by John & Charles Wesley met to try to restore the church's loss of spirituality.
It is against this background that the history of methodism in Glamorgan must be seen.
THE METHODIST REVIVAL IN BRITAIN
The group of devout Oxford students led by the brothers John & Charles Wesley were nicknamed "Methodists" because of their earnest and methodical approach to religious study and prayer. In May 1738, on his return from an unsatisfactory missionary trip to the American colonies, John Wesley underwent a spiritual conversion and commenced a self-appointed evangelical mission to the people of Britain.
From 1739 John Wesley, Charles Wesley and George Whitfield, often barred from preaching in churches, began to hold open air meetings, although not without harrassment from within the church.
Wesley and Whitfield, though, had slightly different views, with Whitfield believing along Calvinistic lines, whilst Wesley was closer to the Established Church. As a result the followers of the two drifted apart, though they still maintained contact and were largely on reasonably amicable terms. From 1741 the two branches of Methodism were split into Wesleyans and Calvinists.
Both Wesleyans and Calvinists organised "Societies". Both stayed within the Established Church with the intention of reform. It was not until many years later that they seceded from the Church.
A further split came in 1797 when the Methodist New Connexion split from the main body over organisational differences.
In 1811 The Primitive Methodists (originally a sect founded in North Staffordshire) formed their own church when their leaders, Hugh Bourne & William Clowes, were expelled from the main body of Methodists.
Over the following years a variety of different factions of Wesleyan Methodism appeared, eg the Bible Christians (1815), Protestant Methodists (1827), the Wesleyan Methodist Association (1835), the Wesleyan Methodist Reformers (1849).
In 1836 the Protestant Methodists joined the Wesleyan Methodist Association and in 1857 The Association joined with other Wesleyan Reformers to form the United Methodist Free Churches.
In 1907 the Methodist New Connexion, Bible Christians and United Methodist Free Churches joined together to form the United Methodist Church, and in 1932 they, with the Primitive Methodists, re- joined the main body of Wesleyan Methodists to produce the modern Methodist Church.
The following on-line text may be of interest to those interested in Methodist history:-
A History of Calvanistic Methodism in Wales from the Princeton Review of 1869
THE ORGANISATION OF THE METHODIST CHURCH
The Methodist Church is the largest Protestant free church in Britain with over 450,000 members and around 2700 ministers.
The principal governing body of the Methodist Church is the annual conference of ministers and lay representatives. The conference operates largely through various divisional boards, and also runs the National Children's Home and the Methodist Publishing House. Each of the administrative districts of the church has its own synod of ministers and lay persons. Each district is made up of circuits which have their own team of ministers and lay preachers, headed by a superintendent. Circuits also have lay circuit stewards who conduct the business of the circuit.
THE METHODIST REVIVAL IN GLAMORGAN AND THE ANGLICAN CHURCH
Concern for the spiritual well being of his parishioners led Griffith Jones, Vicar of Llanddowror, Carmarthenshire, to establish a number of circulating schools around 1730, supported by the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge (SPCK), a Church of England based organisation, who supplied Bibles, Prayer Books & other literature, subsidised by funds from Anglican well-wishers.
The schools were set up in whatever premises were available, for short periods of time, in various locations around South Wales. They were intended to "make people by the Grace of God good men in this world and happy in the next". He believed, rightly, that teaching people to read the Scriptures would lead them to conversion to God . Over the next 30 years, 150,000 children attended the schools along with around 500,000 adults. Jones died in 1761 but his work was continued by his friend, Madam Bevan.
The schools not only taught pupils to read the Bible but also encouraged family prayer. The result was that there was a great movement toward the Church by people who had previously taken little interest in religious matters. The lives and behaviour of the people were said to have been greatly improved by this movement toward religion. In particular the Sabbath was being kept by more and more people, as opposed to the previous use of that day for drinking and gaming.
At that time the Bishops of the Established Church tended to be Anglo-Welsh and politically motivated, so many of the lesser working clergy looked to Griffith Jones for leadership, even though he was known to have evangelical leanings. It must be remembered, though, that many of the local clergymen were absentees, serving many parishes, and leaving the daily running of parish affairs to their curates. In general these pluralists were not so supportive.
Although the schools were Anglican, they tended to be nurseries of the religious reform from which methodism developed. The leaders of the methodist movement considered themselves to be reformers of the Established Church, not founders of any new form of religion. Most were Anglican clergymen and even Howell Harris, an influential lay leader of the methodists, remained a staunch Anglican all his life. They insisted, for example, that their societies and meeting houses were not churches.and that they were not a Non-Conformist sect. Many lay members, however, and a small number of clergy, disagreed and set up independant churches.
The Bishops, meanwhile, largely living in London, and with little local knowledge of events in South Wales, were hearing frightening second hand stories of open-air meetings, clergy preaching in each other's parishes and extempore prayer. With no first hand means of knowing what was really happening their reactions were confused, some seeing methodists as part of the church, allowing them to preach in their parishes and to carry on with open-air preaching etc, whilst others were condemning of reform.
In Glamorgan, Bishop Barrington of Llandaff (1759 - 1782) was one of those who was more sympathetic to methodism. For example, Daniel Jones, the clergyman at Llangan at this time was a methodist and complaints were made against him which the Bishop could not ignore. However, Jones was able to explain himself satisfactorily to the Bishop and continued his methodism within the church.
Bishop Watson of Llandaff (1786 - 1816), although, perhaps, less supportive of methodist traits amongst his clergy, was, nevertheless prepared to be reasonably tolerant. From this point of view the methodists of Glamorgan were lucky for some 47 years. Despite the generally supportive views of Barrington, however, he was not prepared to allow curates with methodist views to operate in the leading parishes of his Diocese.
The case of Christopher Bassett (described in Morgannwg in 1989 and 1993) well illustrates the position referred to in the last paragraph. Bassett was a man of strong methodist leanings, a scion of one of the Gentry families of Glamorgan which provided many clergymen from its various branches. His father, another Christopher Bassett, had been Glamorgan agent to the Dean & Chapter of Gloucester, and the son received their support when he was being considered in 1779 for the post of Vicar of St.Johns, Cardiff. Despite this, and Bishop Barrington's general acceptance of methodism, he would not give the post to Bassett because of his methodist beliefs. However, to the surprise of Bassett, he was appointed curate of St.Fagans in 1778 and subsequently of Porthkerry. Neither, of course, quite as prestigious as St.Johns, Cardiff. In both of the parishes of which Bassett became curate he was responsible for establishing or reviving methodist societies, and one can well imagine that if he had done this in Cardiff what problems would have resulted for the Bishop. In St.Fagans and Porthkerry both Bishops Barrington and subsequently Watson were quite prepared to allow him to continue his methodist tendencies, to be closely involved with the leaders of methodism and to preach throughout Wales.
HOWELL HARRIS AND THE CALVINISTIC METHODISTS
Howell Harris was born in 1714 and became a schoolmaster. In 1735 he underwent spiritual conversion and from then until his death in 1773 was one of the most influential native methodists in South East Wales. He was four times refused ordination in the Anglican faith and therefore remained a lay evangelist, and after splitting from the main methodist group led by the Wesleys because of his Calvinistic beliefs, founded his own religious community at Trevecca, in Breconshire, in 1752. Harris was supported by Daniel Rowland, another influential local methodist, but around 1758 a split occurred between the two, and Harris retired to Trevecca, giving up his itinerant preaching. In 1762,however, he resumed his travelling preaching, following on an apparent reconciliation with Daniel Rowland, and the two preached at Aberthin near Cowbridge on 1 June 1763, Rowland in the afternoon and Harris in the evening. Also in that year Harris preached at Gower and in January 1765 at Cardiff, Trehill (St.Nicholas), Llantrisant & Cowbridge. He travelled in his own two horse chaise (a Ginzendorf), for which he came under some criticism. In January 1766 he visited Llanbradach, Llantrisant, Cowbridge and Cardiff, in all of which he had substantial congregations. He returned again in December 1766 to Cardiff, Lisvane & Llantrisant, and in 1767 at Dinas Powis and St.Lythans. His last visit was on 1 July 1769 when he preached at Cardiff & Lisvane, but he had contracted Tuberculosis and his ill-health severely restricted further travel. Harris died at Trevecca on 21 July 1773, aged 60. He had spent 34 years preaching the methodist cause.
Harris had the support of Selina, Countess of Huntingdon, a prominent English methodist who provided him with funds to keep his community at Trevecca going. Like most of his methodist colleagues he saw himself as a member of the Established Church, although the meeting houses of the Calvinists had to be registered as "dissenting chapels" under the terms of the 1689 Toleration Act. It was not until 1811 that Calvinistic Methodists were ordained outside the Anglican Church, and it took until 1826 for the church to become fully constituted as the Presbyterian Church of Wales, the only indigenous Welsh Church.
It now has 75,000 members, 1200 chapels and 180 ministers.
THE WESLEYS IN GLAMORGAN
By 1739 three methodist societies had been established around Cardiff. In March of that year George Whitfield came to Cardiff to preach at the Town Hall to a congregation of some 400, and he joined with Howell Harris in public worship at the Methodist Society Headquarters in the town, at Thomas Glascott's house. He also met Nathaniel Wells, Vicar of St.Andrews Major, but the latter was more in tune with the Wesleys and invited Charles Wesley to Cardiff later in the year.
In October 1739 at the invitation of Howell Harris, John Wesley visited Wales from Bristol and came again in 1740, when he preached in the Shire Hall., within the Castle bailey; the Church authorities were unwilling for him to preach there on a weekday. On 19 November 1740 he was followed by his brother Charles who preached in Newport and then Cardiff, where he preached in the Town Hall in the afternoon and evening.. On 2 October 1741 John Wesley again visited Cardiff, and stayed the night with Robert Jones of Fonmon. Again on 2 March 1742 Wesley came to preach at Llanishen and Cardiff and then on 3 March at Llantrisant, where he denounced Bishop John Gilbert for closing the pulpit to him. At this time the Cardiff Wesleyan Society was formed. When Robert Jones died in July 1742 Wesley came to comfort the family. In May 1743 Wesley spent the morning at the new meeting room of the Cardiff Society in Church Street, and then went on to Llantrisant & Cowbridge, where his meeting was wrecked by the ill-behaviour of some protagonists. He returned to Cardiff on 8 May 1743 and preached twice in the Castle yard, also visiting Wenvoe where the congregation was swelled by people from miles around.
In July-August 1743 he crossed from Barnstaple, Devon, to Fonmon and again preached at Cardiff probably from the foot of the steps to the Castle Keep, where he had a huge congregation. He then went on, accompanied by John Hodges, to preach at Neath but he was given a poor reception there. He tried to preach at Margam that morning on the return journey, but was hindered by his inability to communicate with the mainly Welsh speaking people of the area, so that a repeat of his sermon, in Welsh, had to be provided in the afternoon. He again preached at Cardiff on 22 August 1743. His next visit to Cardiff was in 1749. By this time there were clearly two groups in Glamorgan, the Wesleyans at Llantrisant, Llanwynno, Wenvoe & Fonmon, and the Calvinists at Groeswen (Caerphilly), Pentyrch & Dinas Powis attached to the Welsh Methodist Association at Watford (Caerphilly). Around 1750 Howell Harris withdrew to Trevecca when he and Daniel Rowlands, the other major figure in South Wales methodism, fell into dispute. As a result some of the methodist societies in the area abandoned the cause, although many of these were subsequently revived.
On 10 August 1758 John Wesley visited Cardiff after some years, on his way to Ireland. At this time, because of the dissent between Harris & Rowland, and the absence of the Wesleys, the Glamorgan Societies were in a poor state, and on this visit Wesley decided that he must try to stem the decline. He retuned to the area on 21 August and preached the next day at the Castle, followed by a tour of the Vale of Glamorgan with Fonmon as his base.
Although there were doctrinal differences between Wesley and Howell Harris (Calvinistic) the two were on friendly terms and on a visit in 1763 Wesley stayed with Harris at Trevecca. In general his visits to Swansea, Cardiff and the Vale in 1763 continued to show methodism in the area in a poor state despite the reconciliaton between Harris and Rowland in that year.
In 1764 Wesley made a visit to Gower on his way back from West Wales and was very impressed. This was followed by a stop at Cardiff , and in September 1767 he made a lengthy tour of South Wales, during which his meeting at the Court House in Cardiff was attended by most of the Gentry of the town and there was an increase in the attendance. Further visits were made in 1768, 1769, 1771, 1774, 1777, 1779, 1781 & 1788. Although the congregations were increasing over the years Wesley is said to have missed the familiar faces from his earlier tours (at Cardiff particularly Arthur Price, Anne Jenkins, Thomas Glascott, Jane Haswell & Nancy Newell). During these visits meeting were held at, amongst other places, Cardiff Castle, Cardiff Town Hall, Llandaff Court, Swansea, Llantwit Major church, Fonmon, Bridgend & Cowbridge. However, Neath was closed to him, the Wesleyan Society having been largely dissolved "as the result of one lying tongue". By the time of his 1788 visit, however, a new Meeting House had been set up at Neath. In 1788 Charles Wesley died in London, followed three years later by his brother John Wesley. The two brothers had been largely responsible for the methodist legacy that has proved so strong in South Wales in subsequent years.
The following may be of use to those interested in John Wesley:-
Edited transcripts of some of John Wesley's Journals
SOME METHODIST CENTRES IN GLAMORGAN
In 1739-40 Nathaniel Wells invited Charles Wesley to Cardiff. Wells was curate of St.John's Church, Cardiff and Vicar of St.Andrews Major and he allowed Wesley to preach at both churches. He was attracted by the teachings of Wesley, but was strongly against the Calvanism of Whitfield, and refused even to travel across the Bristol Channel on the same boat as Whitfield. He was a member of the Cardiff Society (Arminian in belief) and, incidentally, was later a candidate against Bassett (mentioned above) for the incumbency of St.John's, Cardiff. Like Bassett he was unsuccessful, although how far this resulted from his methodist leanings or how far it was related to his alcoholic input, is difficult to be certain.
Wells introduced Robert Jones of Fonmon, an important local landowner, and a descendant of Col. Philip Jones, the Parliamentarian Commander, to Charles Wesley, and Jones immediately became a follower. He converted the dining room at Fonmon Castle into a chapel, established a local society, but, unfortunately died very soon afterward, receiving an elegy from Wesley.
Robert Jones' widow and son, another Robert, continued the methodist tradition at Fonmon for some years after.
THE EDWIN CONNECTION
Lady Charlotte Edwin was the daughter of the 4th Duke of Hamilton, and widow of Charles Edwin, MP for Glamorgan 1747 until his death in 1756. Lady Charlotte was a Lady of the Bedchamber to the Princess Augusta of Wales, and it was probably at Court that she came into contact with Selina, Countess of Huntingdon, an important methodist leader, who was friendly with Howel Harris, and maintained the theological school at Trevecca, Breconshire.
Lady Charlotte was patron of the livings of Coychurch, Coity, Llangan, Llanmihangel, Flemingston, Penlline and St.Brides Minor, all in the Vale of Glamorgan, and was able to fill vacancies at four of these parishes (Coychurch, Coity, Llangan and Penlline) with methodist clergymen.
Llangan became the parish of Daniel Jones, a Carmarthenshire man who had been curate in several parishes throughout Wales and in Bristol and Wiltshire before being appointed to Llangan. He was well known for his methodist beliefs, which had probably been formed by the influence of Dr.William Read of Magor, Mon. who was friend of Williams Pantycelyn, and who retrieved Jones from the jaws of death in the Winter of 1762-3. Lady Huntingdon had met him when he was at Crudwell in Wiltshire, and she recommended him to Lady Edwin. He remained a close friend of the Countess for the rest of her life , preached at her meetings on a regular basis, and became one of her chaplains. It was he who preached her funeral sermon when she died in 1791. He was a founder member of the London Missionary Society and supporter of the Church Missionary Society and the Bible Society. He frequently travelled around Wales preaching at methodist meetings and particularly at Trevecca.
Jones' first wife had died and his second wife was from Pembrokeshire, where she retained a home after their marriage. As a result Jones spent quite a lot of time in Pembrokeshire, 'though continuing to minister for Llangan, and to make preaching tours of other parts of Wales.
One of Jones' curates at Llangan was William Howels, who had been opposed by some in the church because of his Calvinistic views, but was accepted by Bishop Watson of Llandaff. Like Jones Howels often preached in the open air and was taken to task by the Bishop, but he pointed out to the Bishop that Christ had consecrated the whole of the earth by his incarnation and therefore preaching should not be confined to consecrated buildings; a view which the Bishop accepted. However, on Jones' death, Howels did not get the incumbancy of Llangan; perhaps the Bishop repented ! Instead he took a curacy at Blackfriars in London, and in 1816 he obtained the chapel of Long Acre in London, where he became famous for his evangelical preaching and subsequently became leader of the London Calvinists.
Llangan, under Jones, became so well known to Glamorgan methodists that they flocked there in great numbers to hear the preaching of Jones and his curates, and to take communion from priests who were considered worthy men. Edward Morgan of Syston, who used to travel to Llangan from Pyle, some 11 miles away, wrote that"....the streets, lanes and paths (were) covered all around with people moving towards the church...." He said that the village became like "a large fair" and "a great part of the congregation stood in the churchyard near a window, through which Jones preached to them from the pulpit". "Most returned home very thankful, rejoicing in the Lord"
When a communion service was to be held a preparatory service was held on the previous Saturday at Salem, the methodist meeting house, in Pencoed. Here the clergy and "exhorters" would meet Jones and receive their instructions.
A fellow traveller with Jones from Carmarthen on one occasion, noted that when the coach stopped at Tavern Spite in Carmarthenshire to change horses, local people crowded around him, he was so well known. Another traveller said that Jones was a jolly companion who smoked his pipe and took his beer as if he had served in the navy.
Jones died in 1810. Although he had such strongly held methodist views he was dismayed that the methodists were considering ordaining their own ministers and separating themselves from the Established Church. He made it quite clear before his death that, had he lived, he would have remained within the Church, and would not have entertained joining a separate Methodist Church.
Edward Davies, from Rhuddlan, Flintshire, like many a Welsh clergyman was educated at Jesus College, Oxford where he graduated in 1736. In 1759 he was ordained deacon to serve as a curate in the Bristol Diocese. By 1762 he was at Bengeworth and Hampton, near Evesham, Worcestershire, and subsequently invited John Wesley to preach at Bengeworth. In 1768 Lady Charlotte Edwin appointed him to Coychurch. However the appointment was unfortunate since Davies was not a Welsh speaker and most of the congregation were, at best, only marginally conversant with English. John Wesley preached at Coychurch in 1771 and had some difficulty in making himself understood.
As a result of the language problem Davies only spent short periods at Coychurch, letting the rectory to Jones of Llangan (where there was no rectory) and employing curates to care for the parish, whilst he lived mainly in England. (He died in London in 1821)
Thomas Richards became curate at Coychurch in 1741, well before Davies became incumbant, and he remained there as curate until 1781, having already been appointed Vicar of Eglwysilan in 1777. Even after leaving the curacy at Coychurch he continued to live in the parish. Although Richards had supported the circulating schools of Griffith Jones within the parish of Coychurch, he seems to have been less enthusiatic about the methodist views of his rector (Davies) and others of like persuasion within the parish.
When Richards removed from the curacy at Coychurch in 1781 he was replaced by John Jones, about whom little seems known. He remained until 1795. In 1798 Henry Phillips became curate. He was born at Talley, Carmarthenshire in 1772. He was educated at Carmarthen Grammar School, where he joined the methodist society. He subsequently became curate at Newport, Pembrokeshire, for an evengelical vicar, David Pugh. When he moved to Coychurch in 1798 he lived at the rectory, with David Jones of Llangan until he married, when he moved to a house of his own. He was a frequent itinerant preacher in various parts of Wales, in particular at Gyfylchi chapel in the Afan Valley. When the methodists seceded from the Established Church, Phillips remained within the church.
In 1769 Lady Edwin appointed Thomas Davies to Coity (which included the modern town of Bridgend). Like Phillips, Davies was from Talley, Carmarthenshire, where he was born in 1743. He was educated at Brecon School and subsequently ordained at Hereford. He became curate of Llangorse and Cathedine, Breconshire in 1766. This brought him into close contact and, indeed, friendship, with Howell Harris at Trevecca. It seems likely that it was Harris who recommended him for Coity and also as chaplain to the Countess of Rothes. Unfortunately Davies had family problems - his wife being considered over-familiar with people - and his many children also causing him difficulties. Probably as a result of his unhappy home life he was frequently absent from the parish, assisting other clergymen, and paying others to carry out his parochial duties at Coity, including Jones of Llangan, who upset some parishioners by the strength of his evangelical preaching. Davies was not popular with his parishioners for various reasons and died a disheartened man in 1819.
Lady Edwin's methodist clergy had, then, not been an unqualified success, but her patronage, particularly of David Jones of Llangan, had been a major contributory factor in the development of methodism in Glamorgan.
THE METHODISTS SECEDE FROM THE CHURCH
The methodist cause, although strongly supported by many of the lesser clergymen, was never fully understood by the Anglo-Welsh episcopate. They seem not to have understood the strength of the movement for reform, nor were they prepared to accept the emotional fervour of the hymn singing
and the open air preaching associated with methodism. The setting up of chapels and meeting houses by the methodists and the existence of the methodist societies annoyed and alarmed the Bishops, although less so in the Llandaff Diocese than in some others. The chapels were set up in order to hold the large numbers who attended methodist services because the churches were not big enough to hold the numbers concerned. They also enabled laymen to preach, which was not possible in chuches. It is, perhaps, unsurprising that the Established Church was mistrustful of such radical acts.
The bishops often refused to ordain methodists as clegy and since laymen were not able to celebrate the sacrement there came a severe lack of methodist clergy within the church. As a result methodists started to question some of the basic tenets of the Established Church, regarding ordination and the celebration of the sacrement, and by 1810 there were moves toward ordaining their own clergy. In 1811 the first methodist ordinations were made and the methodist secession took place. However, in Glamorgan the more enlightened attitude of Bishop Watson of Llandaff meant that, unlike other places, where the methodists separated themselves completely from the Anglican church, there was a longer continuation of the links between the Anglicans and the Methodists. It was not until Bishop Watson was replaced by Bishop Marsh that difficulties started to occur (See the case of Howell Howells below), and when Marsh was moved to Peterborough, things quietened down and his immediate successors were tolerant of methodist clergymen remaining within the church. (See the case of Richard Bassett below). For the most part, in Glamorgan and in some other areas of Wales , links between the methodist movement outside the church, the methodist sympathisers within the church, and the church itself, remained close until 1862 when the final break came.
OLD METHODIST CHAPELS IN GLAMORGAN
The first Methodist place of worship in the whole of Wales was built in 1742 at Groeswen on Caerphilly Mountain, inspired by Howell Harris, on land provided by Thomas Price of Watford Fawr, Caerphilly. It later became a Congregationalist Chapel.
Some other early chapels (pre 1800) were Trehill, St.Nicholas (around 1742), Aberthin, near Cowbridge (1749), Salem, Pencoed (1775), Ebenezer, Cardiff (before 1797).
Because Methodists considered themselves part of the Established Church very few Methodist registers were kept before the early 1790s. The rapid expansion of methodism meant that circuits wrre constantly changing and the areas covered by Methodist registers varied with these changes.
In 1836 a commission was set up to enquire into the state, custody and authenticity of nonconformist registers, and this commission was renewed in 1837. Nonconformist denominations were required to send their registers to the Registrar General. Although some were, initially, loathe to part with their registers, many congregations eventually complied. A catalogue of registers deposited was produced by the Registrar General in 1841 and this showed that 871 Methodist registers had then been deposited.
A further commission was set up in 1857 and a much smaller number of additional registers wa deposited. In 1859 a new consolidated list of the holdings of the Registrar General was published. Even this, however, was not entirely accurate. In some cases registers had been started by one denomination and then taken over by another and such changes are not recorded in the published list.
In later years the Methodist Church has been particularly assiduous in tracking down undeposited registers and ensuring their deposit in Record Offices.
The Public Record Office now holds all those registers which were deposited with the Registrar General, plus the registers of the Metropolitan Wesleyan Registry (A central registry established by the Wesleyan Methodists for recording the births and baptisms of their children, covering the period 1818-1888)
Methodist circuits kept lists of members and these are held at Record Offices or at the John Ryland Library in Manchester or by the local ministers.
The John Ryland University Library of Manchester (Oxford Rd., Manchester M13 9PP) holds the official archives of the Methodist Church. It does not, however, hold registers, but has around 150,000 books and manuscripts including minutes and manuscript journals of all Methodist Conferences.
Archivists have now been appointed for all Methodist areas and details can be obtained from the Archivist at Oldham St., Manchester. The Methodist Church has a policy of decentralisation, and ensures that all registers are deposited in County Record Offices.
The Wesley Historical Society has manuscript and printed material from some congregations. The Record Office of the Wesleyan Union is at 123, Queen St., Sheffield.
The Appendix lists the known holdings of Methodist registers for Glamorgan.
A to C D to Q R to Y SOME 18th CENTURY METHODIST CLERGYMEN of GLAMORGAN
CHRISTOPHER BASSETT of St.Fagans
RICHARD BASSETT of Colwinston
Born in 1777 at Llantwit Major & educated at Cowbridge Grammar School, he was ordained in 1801 as curate of St.Athan. He was a school frind of William Howels, curate to David Jones of Llangan, and was introduced to Jones through him. As a result of meeting Jones he became involved in methodism. Whilst Watson was Bishop of Llandaff thiswas not a problem, however, Watson was succeeded by Herbert Marsh, an anti-methodist Bishop who made life difficult for any of his clergy with methodist tendencies. Bassett was involved in angry correspondence with Bishop Marsh in which he was threatened with expulsion from his curacy. Not only that but that the Bishop would not provide him with a testimonial allowing him to move to another curacy in another Diocese. Fortunately for Bassett Bishop Marsh was translated to Peterborough and his successor, Bishop Van Mildert, took no great interest i the matter. He was replaced in 1826 by Bishop Sumner, who was more supportive of evangelicals and befriended Bassett, whose methodist leaning enabled him to retain many in his congregation who would otherwise have left and joined the methodists. Bassett was presented to the parish of Eglwys Brewis in 1832 by his friend John Montgomery Traherne of Coedriglan, who held the living of that parish, and subsequently became Rector of Colwinston. He also held the curacy of Llandow. By 1851 he had retired from the church but right up ntil his death in 1852 he continued to hold religious societies, preach with the methodists and was trustee of several methodist chapels. (An excellent Victorian book on his life is at Cardiff Central Library, Local Studies Department)
EDWARD DAVIES of Coychurch
THOMAS DAVIES of Coity
WILLIAM DAVIES of Neath
Curate of Neath 1762-71 was dismissed for preaching in the open air, but then acepted as curate of Llanguick (Pontardawe).in the Diocese of St,Davids, 1771-75. Also sereved as curate of Michaelston- super-Afan. From 1775 until his death in 1787 he preached throughout Wales, and his latter years were spent at Gyfylchi chapel.
HOWELL HOWELLS of St.Lythans
Methodist curate of St.Lythans; lived at Trehill in St.Nicholas, Methodists continued to go to him for communion even after the methodist secession. He fell foul of Bishop Marsh for his methodism and was dismissed from his curacy. Howells, however, continued to preach as a methodist until his death in 1842 aged 92.
OWEN JENKINS of St.John's, Cardiff
Vicar of St.Johns read prayers on the steps of Cardiff Castle when John Wesley preached there in 1769
DANIEL JONES of Llangan
DANIEL JONES of Radyr
Curate of Radyr 1785-1821. Acting for Andrew Windsor, the Rector, son of the Earl of Plymouth and later himself Earl of Plymouth. Daniel Jones married well and lived at his wife's home in St.Fagans, where he kept a school and maintained the methodist society which had been started by Christopher Bassett. Methodists from St.Fagans area would go to Radyr for communion. He was the brother of Hezekiah Jones (below)
HEZEKIAH JONES of Cadoxton-juxta-Barry
From Carmarthenshire, curate of Cadoxton-juxta-Barry by 1781 and sometimes also served at Sully, Lavernock & Penarth. By 1788 he had transformed Cadoxton from a parish of 5 or 6 communicants to one of 50 or 60. Supporter of the Bible Society and the Church Missionary Society. Probably involved in the beginnings of the methodist cause in Cadoxton. Moved to St.Brides Wentloog, Mon. in 1802, though he still lived at Cadoxton some 25 miles away. Appointed Vicar of St.Brides Wentloog and Coedkernew, Mon. 1816 by Bishop Watson Died 1833.
EVAN PHILLIPS of Llangynwyd
Curate of Llangynwyd, admitted to the methodist association of Neath in 1780. Died 1783.
HENRY PHILLIPS of Coychurch B>
WILLIAM THOMAS of Neath
Curate of Neath, he was mentioned by Howell Harris as a "serious clergyman"
NATHANIEL WELLS of St.John's, Cardiff & St.Andrews Major
Of a prominent Cardiff business family. He was the opponent of Christopher Bassett for the incumbancy of St.John's, Cardiff. Arminian in his beliefs and a supporter of the Wesleys. However, he was not a temporate man, and was in trouble at times for drinking. Had to be forced to marry his servant girl who was having his child (her uncle was James Matthew of Aberamman & Rhoose, member of the influential local Matthew family ).
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