Monday, 26 October 2009

It's in the blood

After blogging about my trip to Lithuania to visit the home-town of my great-grandfather George, a few people wanted to know more about my discoveries in the family tree. Well George was my mother's mother's father, and another interesting character was my father's father's father, David Jones.
David was born in 1841 in the small town of Pontyberem in the Gwendraeth Valley of south-east Carmarthenshire, between Carmarthen itself and Llanelli. His father, John, was from a local family well-known in Calvinist Methodist circles, and numbered not one but two CM ministers among his uncles and great-uncles. Like many in the nineteenth century David headed for the industrial areas of Glamorgan, and I found him in 1861 working, like his father, as a tailor in Maesteg. However, by the mid-1860s my father recalled hearing that David was a policeman, and records show there is indeed a policeman called David Jones in Penarth at that time.
And then the Lord intervened! In 1866-1870 David Jones is studying for the ministry at the Baptist College in Pontypool (now in Cardiff) and by 1871 is living in Cardiff where he is a Baptist preacher, and where he meets his wife Jane Lewis. They are married at Tabernacl Chapel, on the Hayes in Cardiff on 13th May 1874. That same year he is ordained a minister at the village of Pontrhydyfen near Port Talbot where he was probably preaching at the time (later the birthplace of Richard Burton). In 1876 he takes up his first post at Gilgal Chapel in Porthcawl. This was only to last, however for three or four years, because by 1881 he is a minster and bookseller in Bridgend. He would never be a full-time minister again, but was ever after in great demand as a preacher and for his powerful gift of public prayer. David and Jane had six children, including my grandfather John Daniel. Somtime in the 1890s the family moved to Cardiff, perhaps after the opening of the new Market, where he opened the religious bookstall, perhaps because a relation of his was now minister at Tabernacl. From his base in the market he supplied, as he had done at Bridgend, many of the Chapels in the Cardiff area. He died in August 1921, aged 79 or 80.
So that's how the Joneses came to Cardiff, and while Baptist David was selling his books and preaching in Bridgend in 1881, with his wife who was born and brought up in Cardiff, with roots in the Vale of Glamorgan, poor old George Gudwen from Prussia was drowned in Cardiff's East Dock, leaving his young Irish and very Catholic widow Annie. An unlikely foursome, yet these two couples' grandchildren married and produced - yours truly, a Catholic priest. It's in the blood, as they say...
The pictures show Capel Ifan, old St John's Church, Pontyberem, where David's parents were married, and Cardiff Market.

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