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Hanes Eglwysi Annibynnol Cymru

(History of the Welsh Independent Churches)

By Thomas Rees and John Thomas; published in 1871+.

 

This chapel history was extracted by Gareth Hicks from the CD published by Archive CD Books (Feb 2008)  - no translation

Proof read by Gareth Hicks (March 2008)

Translation by Steve Stephenson (Oct 2008)


Bethlehem, Llanharan

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(Vol 2, p 221-223)

"Yn y flwyddyn 1690, yr oedd offeiriad o'r enw Lewis yn dal bywioliaeth y plwyf hwn a phlwyf Llanilid, ac yn aneddu gydag un Mr. Mathews, yn Meiros. Yr oedd yr offeiriad hwn yn flaenor mewn annuwioldeb. Yr oedd yn hoff iawn o chwareu cardiau, a dywedir y byddai ef a'i gyfeillion yn eistiedd lawer nos Sadwrn gyda'r cardiau hyd doriad y wawr Sabboth, yna eilliai ei farf ar y Sabboth, ac clai i'r eglwys, ond anfynych byddai neb ond y clochydd yno yn ei gyfarfod. Byddai ef ac un William Thomas weithiau yn ymladd ceiliogod ar y fynwent. Yr oedd hefyd yn un blysig iawn am gwrw. Tra yr oedd yr unig athraw crefyddol o'r cymeriad hwn nis gallesid disgwyl fod llawer o grefydd yn y plwyf. Nis gwyddom pa bryd y terfynodd y creadur gwael hwn ei yrfa lygredig; ond effeithiodd ei ymddygiad i wneyd yr ardal yn ddiarebol o annuwiol. Pa fodd bynag, fe ddaeth yr amser nodedig i'r Arglwydd drugarhau wrth y lle pechadurus hwn i fyny. Tua y flwyddyn 1730, trwyddedwyd ty neu ddau ar Waun Llanhari at bregethu ynddynt, a daeth Mr. David Williams o'r Watford; Mr. Henry Davies, Blaengwrach, ac eraill, i'r ardal i bregethu, ac fe fendithiodd yr Arglwydd eu llafur. Rywbryd rhwng 1730 a 1734, cafodd eglwys Annibynol i chorpholi yn y Garth, yn mhlwyf Llanharan. Mr. Henry Davies, Blaengwrach oedd gweinidog a ofalai yn benaf am yr eglwys ieuangc hon. Yr ydym yn cael yn llawysgrif Mr. Davies fod yma ddeunaw o aelodau ar yr 16eg o Fai, 1734. Eu henwau

222

oeddynt John Richard, henuriad ; William How, diacon; Thomas Henry, James Richard, William Meyrick, John Thomas, John Williams, Richard Bassett, Phlarw Thomas, Jannet Thomas, Catherine Thomas, Margaret How, Margaret Thomas, Barbara Thomas, Gwenllian David, Ioan David, Gwenllian --- , a Pryswydd Walter. Nis gwyddom pa cyhyd y bu'r praidd bychan yn addoli yn y Garth. Yn mhen rhyw gymaint o amser aethant at y Counsellor Powell, perchenog y rhan fwyaf o bentref Llanharan, i ofyn am le i osod yr arch ynddo. Caniataodd eu cais iddynt gyda'r sirioldeb mwyaf. Rhoddodd dafarndy yn nghanol y pentref iddynt at eu gwasanaeth, yr hwn a gyfaddaswyd ganddynt i fod yn dy addoliad yn lle bod yn synagog Satan. Buont yno yn addoli hyd farwolaeth Mr. Powell. Yna daeth ei frawd, yr hwn oedd yn offeiriad rhagfarnllyd, i feddiant o'r etifeddiaeth, a chan nad oedd hawl gan ei frawd i roddi lease gyfreithlon ar y lle i'r gynnulleidfa, cymerodd feddiant o hono a gyrodd hwynt allan i'r heol gan feddwl, mae yn debyg, y buasai wrth hyny yn lladd Ymneillduaeth yn y gymydogaeth. Ond camgymerodd. Yn wyneb cael eu hamddifadu o'u haddoldy, aeth y bobl at un Mr. Jones, perchenog y fferm a elwir y Coedbychan, a chawsant dir ganddo ef at adeiladu capel a chladdu eu meirw, mewn man prydferth iawn ar fin y ffordd fawr, ac o fewn chwarter milldir i bentref Llanharan, ond yn mhlwyf Llanbedr-ar-fynydd. Yr ydym yn tybied mai tua y flwyddyn 1780 yr adeiladwyd y capel. Bu Mr. Lewis Jones o wasanaeth mawr i'r achos hwn tra y bu yn Mhenybont. Ni bu yma yr un gweinidog sefydlog cyn y flwyddyn 1774, pryd y daeth Mr. Thomas Lewis o Dy'nycoed, Glyntawy, yma. Efe gafodd y llafur o fod a'r llaw flaenaf yn adeiladaeth y capel a thalu am dano, ond ni chafodd fyw yn hir i bregethu ynddo, canys bu farw yn y flwyddyn 1783. Cyn pen llawn flwyddyn wedi marwolaeth Mr. Lewis, rhoddwyd galwad i Mr. Noah Jones, gweinidog yr eglwysi yn y Cwmmawr a Rhydymardy. Bu ef yma ac yn y Taihirion yn barchus a dylanwadol iawn hyd ei farwolaeth ddisymwth ddydd Nadolig, 1814. Yn mhen tua blwyddyn wedi ei farwolaeth ef rhoddwyd galwad i Mr. David Jones, gweinidog yr eglwys yn Ebenezer, Aberdar. Darfu i'w ddoniau poblogaidd ef luosogi yr eglwys a'r gynnulleidfa yn fawr, a bu yn llafurio yma hyd y flwyddyn 1829, pryd y rhoddodd y lle i fyny, ac y cyfyngodd ei lafur i'r Taihirion a Bethlehem, Pentyrch. Chwefror 4ydd, 1830, urddwyd Mr. William Griffiths, myfyriwr o athrofa y Neuaddlwyd yma, ac efe oedd y gweinidog cyntaf a urddwyd yn y lle. Gwinidogion wedi eu hurddo mewn lleoedd eraill oedd y tri fuont yma o'i flaen. Ar yr achlysur o urddiad Mr. Griffiths pregethwyd ar natur eglwys gan Mr. W. Jones, Penybont ; holwyd y gofyniadau gan Mr. D. Jones, Taihirion; dyrchafwyd yr urdd-weddi gan Mr. M. Jones, Bethesda, Merthyr ; pregethwyd i'r gweinidog gan Mr. W. Davies, Rhosycaerau, ac i'r eglwys gan Mr. D. Griffiths, Castellnedd.# Bu Mr. Griffiths yn gweithio yma yn egniol a ffyddlon am flynyddau cyn gweled nemawr o lwyddiant ar ei lafur, ond yn flwyddyn 1841, torodd diwygiad grymus allan yma ac ychwanegwyd amryw ugeiniau at yr eglwys. Bu yma ddiwygiad effeithiol iawn drachefn yn 1860 a 1861. Yn y flwyddyn 1836, tynwyd yr hen gapel i lawr, gan ei fod yn rhy fychan ac yn dra dadfeiliedig, ac adeiladwyd y capel presenol. Maint y capel hwn yw 36 troedfedd wrth 24 tu

#Dysgedydd, 1830. Tu dal. 86.

223

fewn i'r muriau, ac oriel gyfleus ynddo. Traul yr adeiladaeth oedd 289p., yr hyn a dalwyd hyd at 60p. erbyn dydd yr agoriad. Agorwyd ef Mawrth 15fed a'r 16eg, 1837, pryd y traddodwyd pregethau gan Meistri Rowlands, Pontypool ; Jones, Tredegar ; Jones, Penmain ; Jones, Penybont ; Hughes, Dowlais, ac eraill. Bu Mr. Griffiths yn rhyfeddol o ddefnyddiol yma ac yn Nhreoes am yn agos i ddeugaiu mlynedd, a bydd ei enw yn perarogli yn yr ardal a thrwy yr holl sir am lawer o flynyddau etto i ddyfod. Bu farw yn yr Arglwydd yn 1867. Dilynwyd ef gan Mr. J. W. Morris, yr hwn a urddwyd yma Awst 18fed a'r 19eg, 1868. Ar yr achlysur pregethwyd ar natur eglwys gan Mr. J. B. Jones, BA., Penybont ; holwyd y gofyniadau gan Mr. W. Williams, Hirwaun; dyrchafwyd yr urdd-weddi gan Mr. J. Evans, Maendy ; pregethwyd i'r gweinidog gan Mr. H. Evans, Penbre, ac i'r eglwys gan Mr. J. Davies, Caerdydd.*

Nid ydym yn gwybod am neb a gyfodwyd yma i bregethu ond y dogion canlynol: -

COFNODION BYWGRAPHYDDOL. (only the names have been extracted)

THOMAS LEWIS. Ganwyd ef yn Nghwm-Ebwy-fawr, plwyf Bedwellty, sir Fynwy, yn y flwyddyn 1706...........................

NOAH JONES. Ganwyd ef yn y Trasserch, amaethdy yn mhlwyf Llangafelach heb fod yn mhell oddiwrth gapel Baran, yn y flwyddyn 1747.................

WILLIAM GRIFFITHS. Ganwyd ef Mai 30ain, 1806, mewn amaethdy a elwir Rhydhir, yn mhlwyf Trefelen, gerllaw Narberth, sir Benfro.....................

 

Translation by Steve Stephenson (Oct 2008)

In 1690 a priest  named Lewis held the living in this parish and in the parish of Llanilid and dwelt with one Mr Matthews in Meiros. This priest was a leader in ungodliness. He was very fond of playing cards, and it is said he would be sitting with his friends many Saturday nights with his cards until the break of dawn on Sunday, then he would shave his beard  on the Sabbath and he would go to church; but often there was nobody but the sexton to meet him. Sometimes he would be with one William Thomas killing cockerels in the cemetery. He was also very desirous of beer. While he was the only religious teacher of repute  it is not surprising that there was not a lot of religion in the parish. We do not know what time this wicked creature ended his corrupt career but his conduct made the area proverbially ungodly. Whatever, the appointed time came for the Lord to take pity on this sinful place. Around the year 1730 a house or two in Waun Llanhari were licensed for preaching, and Mr David Williams from Watford came with Mr Henry Davies (Blaengwrach)  and others to the area to preach, and the Lord blessed their labours. Sometime between 1730 and 1734 an Independent church was established in  Garth, in the parish of Llanharan. Mr Henry Davies (Blaengwrach) was the minister who took the main charge of this young church. We have it in writing by Mr Davies that there were 18 members on the 16th May 1734. Their names were:-

John Richard (Elder), William How (Deacon), Thomas Henry, James Richard, William Meyrick, John Thomas, John Williams, Richard Bassett, Phlarw Thomas, Jannet Thomas, Catherine Thomas, Margaret How, Margaret Thomas, Barbara Thomas, Gwenllian David, Ioan David, Gwenllian......?, and Pryswydd Walter.

We do not know how long the small flock  worshipped in  Garth. After some length of time they went to Councillor Powell, the owner of the largest part of Llanharan village, to ask for a place to worship in. He agreed to their request with great enthusiasm. He gave an ale house in the centre of the village to them for their use, this was adapted for them so that it would be a place of worship in place of a synagogue of Satan. They were worshiping here until the death of Mr Powell. Then came his brother, who was a predjudiced priest, having possession  from his inheritance, and because there had not been a request from his brother to the congregation for a lawful lease, having come into possession he turned them out onto the street thinking, most likely, that this would put an end to Nonconformity in the neighbourhood. But he was mistaken. In the face of having been deprived of their place of worship the people went to one Mr Jones, owner of the farm that was called Coedbychan, and received land from him to build a chapel and bury their dead in a very beautiful place on the edge of the main road, within a quarter of a mile from the village of Llanharan, but in the parish of Peterston super Montem (Brynna). This would have been about the year 1780 when the chapel was built. Mr Lewis Jones was of great service to this cause while he was in Bridgend. There was no minister established here before the year 1774 when Mr Thomas Lewis of Ty'nycoed, Swansea Valley, came here. He had the work of being the chief hand in building the chapel and paying for it, but he did not live long to preach in it, as he died in 1783. Before the end of the year when Mr Lewis died a call was sent to Mr Noah Jones, minister of the churches in Cwmmawr and Rhydymardy. He was here and in Taihirion very respected and influential until his sudden death on Christmas day 1814. Within two years of his death a call was sent to Mr David Jones, minister of the Ebenezer church, Aberdar. It happened that his popular talents increased the church and its congregation greatly and he laboured here until1829 when he gave the place up and and he confined his labour to Taihirion and Bethlehem, Pentyrch. On the 4th February 1830 Mr William Griffiths, a student of Neuaddlwyd college, was ordained here. He was the first minister to be ordained here. The three ministers who were here beforehand had been ordained in other places. On the occasion of Mr Griffiths' ordination the preaching on the nature of the church was given by Mr W Jones (Bridgend), the questions were asked by Mr D Jones (Taihirion and Bethlehem, Pentyrch), the ordination prayer was raised by Mr M Jones (Bethesda, Merthyr), preaching to the minister was Mr W Davies (Rhosycaerau) and to the church by Mr D Griffiths (Neath)*. Mr Griffiths was working here energetically and faithfully for years before any success of his labour could be seen, but in 1841 a strong revival broke out here and added some scores to the church.There was a very effective revival here again in 1860 and 1861. In 1836 the old chapel had been pulled down because it was too small and rather decayed and the present chapel was built. This chapel measured 36 feet by 24 feet within the walls and it had a convenient gallery in it. The cost of building was 289, this had all been paid except for 60 by the day of the opening. It was opened on 15th and 16th  March 1837 when sermons were delivered by Messrs. Rowlands (Pontypool), Jones (Tredegar), Jones (Penmain), Jones (Bridgend), Hughes (Dowlais) and others. Mr Griffiths was amazingly useful here and in Treoes for nearly forty years and his name  will be renowned in the region and the whole county for many years yet to come. He died in the Lord in 1867. He was followed by Mr J W Morris, who was ordained here on August 18th and 19th 1868. On the occasion the sermon on the nature of the church was given by Mr J B Jones BA (Bridgend), the questions were asked by Mr W Williams (Hirwaun), the ordination prayer was raised by Mr J Evans (Maendy), preaching to the minister by Mr H Evans (Pembrey) and to the church by Mr J Davies (Cardiff)

We do not know of anybody who was raised here to preach except the following:-

* Dysgedydd, 1830. Page 86.

Biographical Notes (Only the names have been extracted)

Thomas Lewis. Born in Cwm-Ebwy-Fawr, in the parish of Bedwellty, Monmouthshire in 1706.

Noah Jones. Born in Trasserch, a farmhouse in the parish of Llangyfelach, not far from chapel Baran, in 1747.

William Griffiths. Born on 30th May 1806 in a farmhouse called Rhydhir in the parish of Trefelen near Narberth, Pembrokeshire.

 

 


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