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Rhydyparc Unitarian Chapel in the parish of Eglwys Fair a Churig

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

VISIT TO RHYDYPARC

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VISIT TO RHYDYPARC  BY J.M.T.

From YR YMOFYNNYDD - DECEMBER 1958

TRANSLATED BY ANNE OWEN TAYLOR

This is a translation of part of an article in the December 1958 issue of the Unitarian magazine, Yr Ymofynnydd, describing two visits to Rhydyparc Unitarian Chapel in the parish of Eglwys Fair a Churig in Carmarthenshire. The first visit by Thomas Thomas took place in 1882. Even at this time, the minister Jenkin William , had to cover 4 chapels - Rhydyparc, St Clears, Penrhiw and Panteg. The second visit was in 1958. The chapel had closed but was in good enough condition to hold a one- off service. The cemetery was overgrown but 30 volunteers cleared it before they held the service. Around this time a list was made of the monumental inscriptions. The passage translated concentrates on the history of the chapel.

"Why was the chapel of Rhydyparc established around 1788 ? It was in the middle of nowhere and the only path leading to it had to pass through the farmyard of Ffynonlas Isaf. The answer partly lies in the theological drama that was taking place in the local area at the time. Rhydyparc was a small branch off the Glandwr church, which in turn was a small branch off the Henllan church. This was an age when people wished for the right to think for themselves and to question.

Around 1707-9, there were two parties in the Henllan church - the High Calvinists with Lewis Thomas as their leader and the Liberal Calvinists (which later became the Arminianists and the Unitarians) under the leadership of Daniel Owen. The following was recorded in an old edition of YMOFYNNYDD " Owen would call the Thomas Lewis party "Antimoniaid" and Lewis would call Daniel Owen's followers "Neomaniaid". If they were calling each other insulting names it was no wonder they lost their temper" In my opinion this was more of a sign that people knew the meaning of labels rather than insulting behaviour. As said Sion Gymro "There was a questioner in the house".

In the middle of the debate the dissenters established the churches of Rhydyceisiaid and Glandwr under the leadership of David Phillips. He was later expelled from Glandwr and around 1788 established Rhydyparc Chapel. It is worth mentioning the first minister of the chapel - Owen Davies, Trelech. He was born at Ffaldybrenin in 1719. Because he sympathised with those who broke away from Glandwr, Trelech closed the door on him and as a result he went to Rhydyparc. He wasn't an Arminian in the mould of Jencyn Jones, Pantycreuddyn nor an "Ariad" like Dafi Dafis, Castellhywel but more of a Liberal Calvinist. When the church became Unitarian around 1791, he went off in a huff and arranged to be buried in Trelech because he was fearful that if he was buried at Rhydyparc, his grave would be desecrated.

This is just a suggestion of the happenings at the church around that time and much more could be written but this is probably not the right place. The Rev. Davies was followed by David Phillips whose relations are the old faithful Blaentrefle family. The Rev. Gwilym Evans and I had the pleasure to meet the descendants of the old family a year ago when we visited Saint Clears and Rhydyparc. Miss Lillie Phillips, Kieffe, St Clears, who died a little while ago was there. Her brother is a doctor and lives in Saundersfoot. Miss Phillips, Cilblaidd, Llanybydder is also a member of this family     ( High Sheriff of Carmarthenshire and Olympic Ice Skater). Another relation, Mr James Phillips farms at Blaentrefle at the moment.

After the time of Rev. David Phillips perhaps the story of Rhydyparc is not so interesting apart from their expulsion as "Addolwyr" because they did not believe in the Trinity. (See T.O.W. in YR YMOFYNNYDD 1930 &c) A new building was constructed under the leadership of Titus Evans, Onnenfawr around 1860."

Names mentioned in the 1882 visit:

James Phillips, Blaentrefle, Llanwinio

Rev. William Rees, District Officer (a fellow student of Thomas Thomas at Carmarthen College)

John Dafis, Alltyblaca

Mr Evans, Trefenti, St Clears

Mr & Mrs Phillips, Mermaid, St Clears

Miss Phillips, Station Hotel, St Clears (sister to Mr Phillips)

Definitions from the New Oxford Dictionary;

Calvinism: The Protestant theological system of John Calvin and his successors, which develops Luther's doctrine of justification by faith alone into the emphasis on the grace of God and centres on the doctrine of predestination.

Arminian: relating to the doctrines of Jacobus Arminius (1560-1609) a Dutch Protestant theologian who rejected Calvinist Doctrine of predestination. His teachings had a considerable influence on Methodism.

Unitarian: a person, especially a Christian, who asserts the unity of God and rejects the doctrine of the Trinity. A member of a church or religious body maintaining this belief and typically rejecting formal dogma in favour of a rationalist and inclusivist approach to belief.

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MONUMENTAL INSCRIPTIONS RHYDYPARC CHAPEL
RECORDED BY SALI DAVIES
TRANSLATED BY ANNE OWEN TAYLOR
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1. William Phillips, Blaentrefle, died June 14 1901, aged 70

Also Margaret Phillips, wife of the above, died Aug. 4 1913, aged 72 (second wife)

2. Mary wife of William Phillips, Castle Mawr, Llanwinio, died Jan 20 1881, aged 50 years (first wife)

Also Hannah, daughter of the above, died April 21 1878, aged 16 years

3. James, son of the above, died Oct. 20 1883, aged 26 years

Also John, son of the above died Sept 13 1888 aged 24 years

4. Anna Phillips, Dyffryn, Llanboidy parish died April 14 1858 aged 72 years
5. John, son of Rees and Amy of Blaentrefle, died March 7 1861 aged 22 years 6. Benjamin Jones, Lamb, Blaenwaun, Llanboidy, died Sept. 16 1887 aged 69 years
8. Esther, daughter of Rees and Amy Phillips, Blaentrefle, died May 14 1858 aged 16 years 10. Rees Phillips, father of William Phillips, Blaentrefle, died Nov. 12 1883 aged 84 years

Also Amy, his wife, died Dec 25 1884 aged 76 years

11. Anna Evans, daughter of John Evans, Vronscawen, Llanboidy parish, died March 6 1823 aged 6 years. 12. John Evans of Ffynonlas, late of Vronscawn, Llanboidy parish, died Dec, 26 1846 aged 70 years
13. Benjamin Griffith, Bank, parish of Llanboidy, died Sept. 27 1838, aged 64 years

Also, Phebe his wife, Feb 28 1858 aged 85 years

Also, 3 of their children - Thomas, Mary and Ann

14. John Evans, Colston, Laugharne. Born Jan 2 1839. Died May 30 1881
15. Lewis son of James & Mary Evans of Danyrhendy, parish of Llanwinio ( late of Castle Lloyd in the parish of Laugharne) Died June 8 1872 , aged 21 years 16. Hannah, daughter of James and Mary Evans, Fronisaf in the chapelry of Eglwysfair. Died Nov. 14 1855 aged 16 months
17. James Evans, Danyrhendy, parish of Llanwinio. Born Jan 1804. Died April 21 1881 Also Mary Evans relist of above Born Dec 7 1809. Died April 2 1886.
18. Rees Davies, Rhyd. Died Feb 23 1827, aged 70 years

Also Esther his wife, died June 27 1822 aged 57 years

Also, Margaret, daughter of Rees & Esther Davies died Nov. 27 1820 aged 25 years

19. Rev. David Phillips, Pantymaen parish of Llanwinio  (The First Minister) Died June 11 1825 aged 74 years

Also Lucy Phillips, wife of the above, died July 21 1800 aged 50 years

20. John Rees Dyffrynbroidyn, Llanboidy. Died Feb. 16 1892 aged 54 years 21. Elizabeth Rees, formerly of Dyffrynbroidyn, Llanboidy parish, died Oct. 8 1873 aged 71 years.

Also, James R. Jones, grandson of the above, died Aug. 28 1889 aged 29 years

22. Sarah William wife of David William Llwyngarreg, Llanwinio parish died Sept. 11 1852 aged 47 years
23. Thomas Phillips, Rhydcarlleon, parish of Llanwinio. Died Jan. 9 1843 aged 36 years 24. Esther, wife of Joseph Walters, Rhydodyn in this parish. Died June 1788 aged 60 years
25. James Phillips formerly of Rhydgoch, Llanwinio. Died Feb. 7 1845 aged 77 years 26. Theophilus Phillips, Rhosgoch, Eglwys Cwmin parish. Died Sept 16 1850 aged 89 years
27. Mary wife of Phillip Jones Rhydyparc. Died Nov. 7 1882 aged 54 years Also Thomas son of Phillip and Mary Jones Rhydyparc. Died March 25 1855 aged 20 years
28. Mary, wife of James Phillips, Blaentrefle, Llanwinio, Died Aug 20 1848 aged 73 years Also James Phillips, Blaentrefle, died July 4 1859
28. Elizabeth Jones, Minyrafon, Betws Road, Ammanford. Died Oct. 27 1911 aged 75 years 29. Morys Sion of the parish of Llanfyrnach, Dyfed. Died Sept 7 1820 aged 48 years

Also, Esther his widow. Died April 14 1858 aged 82 years

Also, Ystyfyn, their child. Died March 12 1815 aged 7 years

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