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History of Brechfa Church from
   ' Teulu Teilo'
  by Bob Lenny and Patrick Thomas

 

9. 'Jones Abergoleuí: a Victorian Parson and his curate.

The clergyman who replaced Joshua Davies was no stranger to the parishioners of Brechfa. David Jones had been Curate of Abergorlech since 1832 and had been living at Abergoleu in the parish since the early 1840s, while serving both Abergorlech and Llanfihangel Rhos-y-corn. He continued to be responsible for Abergorlech after his appointment to Brechfa by the Lord Chancellor in 1855 and his induction to the parish in January 1856. The people of Brechfa knew him as 'Jones Abergoleu' and it is said that he was particularly popular with the children because he used to give them shining new pennies as a 'calennig' on Dydd Calan (New Year's Day). Some students used to come to him at Abergoleu for tuition.

David Jones introduced a 'cwrdd paratoi' - a service of preparation including a sermon - on the Friday before the monthly Sacrament Sunday. His estimate of the average number of communicants ('Between 20 & thirty') is probably more accurate than the rather generous figure given by his predecessor. By 1860 he had begun to hold a lecture and prayer meeting every Thursday evening. He also broadened the repertoire of hymns sung in the church. Joshua Davies had been content with the 'Psalms of David and the Rev'd David [Daniel?] Rees' composition.' David Jones added to these 'Williams Pantycelyn' (1857) and the hymnbooks of 'Rev Mr Williams North Wales' (1863) and 'Rev Dd. Jones' (1866).

The impression conveyed is of a Rector who was striving hard both to deepen the devotional life of his parishioners and to improve the quality of the worship in his church. His efforts were largely financed from his own pocket. In 1877 the churchwardens recorded that the church was kept clean 'at the charge of the Incumbent.' When they were asked 'From what sources do you provide for the repairs of the Church and the expenses of Divine Service?' they replied that "The Incumbent is doing it.' However his hard work seemed to have had some results. By 1877 the average number of communicants had risen to 'About sixty-five,' while there was a Sunday School of 'About fifty.' The parish also had a day school attended by 60 children. The Rector took part in their religious instruction.

He had also acquired an assistant curate. The Reverend John Richards had started training at Queen's College, Birmingham, in 1873. Three years later he was ordained deacon by the Bishop of St Davids and sent to assist in the parishes of Brechfa and Abergorlech. He lodged at Castle Green in Brechfa. One of his tasks was to help with the Sunday School. By 1880 David Jones had reached a great age and was in poor health. His wife had died in October 1877. She had been buried next to the gate into Brechfa churchyard. David Jones himself sent his resignation to the Bishop on the 25th of March 1880. At about this time John Richards filled in the Visitation Returns for his ailing Rector. He noted that as 'Stipendiary Curate' he was supposed to receive £80 a year. However when asked 'Is the stipend fully and regularly paid?' he answered 'No'. John Richards seems to have left Brechfa shortly afterwards. It is not known what became of him - his name does not appear in the comprehensive list of Anglican clergy in the 1890 Crockford's Directory. David Jones also left the parish on his retirement.

The parish clerk throughout this period was Thomas Thomas (1809-77), a tailor by trade, who lived with his wife Anne at 'Vicarage', the thatched glebe cottage in which successive Rectors had refused to reside. Joshua Davies first mentioned Thomas' name as clerk in 1842, noting that his salary was 'One Pound Per annum Paid by the Clergyman,' and adding that "The Clerk's fee was formerly paid from the church rate.' By 1848 Thomas Thomas was only paid Ten to fifteen shillings' for his duties as clerk, though he received 'twenty shillings' again from 1851 until David Jones replaced Joshua Davies. The new Rector initially cut the clerk's wages to 'Ten shillings a year...From my own pocket,' but then in 1863 generously trebled them to £1-10-0, at which sum they remained until the clerk's death. Thomas Thomas' willingness to put up with these fluctuations in salary is a tribute to his faithfulness as parish clerk. He also served as 'clochydd' (sexton) of the church. His great-great-grandchildren include three present members of St Teilo's Church: Mr Bob Lenny, Meillioncn; Mrs Iris Lenny, Broderi, and Mrs Nancy Davies, Forest Lodge.