Symud i'r prif gynnwys

SPIRITUAL NURSERIES: GRIFFITH JONES AND THE CIRCULATING SCHOOLS GRIFFITH JONES of Llanddowror has been regarded as an educational pioneer, a pre-cursor of the Welsh methodist revival, and as one of the most influential figures of eighteenth-century Wales. Such statements are true, and in making them most commentators have rightly stressed the spiritual nature of his work. Yet few historians have stressed that Griffith Jones was, above all, a missionary pioneer, and that within the context of Anglican life and worship. This is possibly because the result of his work can be more readily seen in educational terms or because his movement has been over-identified with the methodist revival, and that generally for polemical reasons. It is the contention of this article that Griffith Jones's circulating schools were an Anglican affair, a major missionary enterprise of the eighteenth century, and that Jones had the support of a far greater number of clergymen within the church of his day than has been previously supposed.! John Mcleish's assertion that the clerical support given to Jones forms 'a miserable record' when set against his public and private appeals for assistance,2 is a judgement shown to be utterly unreasonable when set against the evidence. Nevertheless it is an assertion still made, as witness the comments made by D. O. Swann in a review of my book, The Welsh Evangelicals of 1986.3 Between 1740 and 1776-7 annual reports of these circulating schools were issued under the title Welch Piety. Although Jones died in 1761 the schools and the reports were continued by his associate. Madam Bevan, who died in 1779. Apart from the issues for the years 1741-2 to 1745-6 and 1747-9 all the reports contained testimonials from clergy and, in a few instances, from parishioners. Some were simply a signed testimonial that the work had been carried on in accordance with the instructions given the master and had received the approval of the incumbent or curate of the parish concerned; others were more elaborate. Each issue contained between thirty and forty, sometimes more, such testimonials, and in one issue, of 1749-50, it appears that the names of all those who gave testimonials were recorded. It was generally made clear that these were but a selection of those which had been received. In 1751-2 two hundred such certificates and letters had been received in that year from clergymen, and it was mentioned that over 2,000 had been received since the schools began. In 1758-9 a selection had been made from over three hundred certificates and letters, as was the case in 1762-3. A note in 1746-7 indicates that at least one hundred testimonials had been received concerning the work and usefulness of the schools, but the cost of printing was too prohibitive to print more than a selection.