Ystradgynlais & District

History and Heritage

Rev W.P. Jones
Bethania Chapel, Ystradgynlais

The Rev William Peregrine Jones came to Bethania Chapel in 1897, in his fortieth year. He was minister of both Bethania and of Brynllynfell Chapel, Cwmlllynfell for fifty years until his retirement in 1947 at the age of 90. He died in January 1951, at the age of 94. The newspaper articles below expand upon his ministry and life:-

From the South Wales Voice 3rd August 1899 is the story of the Rev William Peregrine Jones' marriage:-

At Trinity Calvinistic Methodist Chapel, Llanelly, on Tuesday, by the Rev James Griffiths ("Iago Ionawr") Pembrey and William Griffiths ("Gwilym ap Leyshon") Cwmgiedd, the Rev W P Jones pastor of Bethania Calvinistic Methodist Chapel Cwmtwrch Brynllynfell, was married to Miss Martha Harris, headmistress of the infant department, Hillfield Board School Kidwelly.
The honeymoon is being spent in North Wales.

In 1920, the Reverend W P Jones' wife died. Martha Jones, nee Harris, was sixty years of age, and died on 7th October 1920, and was buried on the 11th. The South Wales Voice 16th October 1920 reported on the funeral:-

On Monday last at Bethania Burial ground, the remains of Mrs Jones, wife of the Rev W P Jones pastor of Bryn Llynfell and Bethania Cwmtwrch, who died on Friday, were laid to rest. Mrs Jones had been ailing for the last few months. The deceased lady, who was 60 years of age, was highly esteemed throughout the district.

From the South Wales Voice Saturday November 7th 1936

Lower Cwmtwrch Pastor
Rev W.P. Jones Celebrates 80th Birthday
Presentation From Congregation

Congratulations are extended to the Rev W. Peregrine Jones, pastor of Bethania Welsh Presbyterian Chapel, Lower Cwmtwrch, on attaining his 80th birthday, on Wednesday. Mr Jones activity and alertness belie his age.
On Wednesday evening a birthday party and presentation meeting was held in his honour at Bethania Chapel, when a fountain pen was presented to him.
A native of Llanddeusant, Carmarthenshire, Mr Jones was educated at Parc-y-Fynwent Acadamey, Carmarthen, under the Revs Thos. Jeremy and J.E. Davies, Llanelly. He passed on to Trefeca College and Cardiff University College.
Mr Jones' first pastorate was at Kidwelly where he remained for eight years. In 1897 he received a call to the joint pastorate of Bethania (Lower Cwmtwrch) and Brynllynfell (Cwmllunfell) Churches, the latter being a new cause. The membership of Bethania has increased from 63 to 130 and there is a membership of 150 at Brynllynfell.
A few months ago, Bethania Chapel was renovated and rebuilt at a total cost of £3,500 of which £2,000 has been paid.
Mr Jones has been for many years secretary of the Sunday School examination board at Carmarthen. He has been chairman of the West Glamorgan Presbytery monthly meeting and district meeting.
More than 150 people partook of an enjoyable repast prepared by the ladies of the church. Mr H.L. Thomas, Mardy House, was the caterer. The proceedings were opened by the offering of prayer by the Rev W.P. Jones.
Mr John William Phillips presided over the presentation meeting.
The candles were lighted and extinguished by Mr Jones, who distributed pieces of the cake to the children on Thursday night. Each family is to receive a candle from the cake.
Mrs Thomas Rosser, presented Mr Jones with a fountain pen on behalf of the members and in the unavoidable absence of the oldest member, Mr John Rees Phillips.
Congratulatory speeches were delivered by Messrs D.W. Thomas, Phillip W. Phillips (deacons); Victor Morgan (church secretary); William Morgan (contractor); Willie Williams, Pentwyn.
Bardic addresses composed by Mr Rees H. Powell, M.E., Yorath; Mr Willie Owen, Mr Watkin Phillips, and Rev W.R. Roderick, Rhiwfawr, and Merch Meurig, were also read.
In his reply, Mr Jones was in reminiscent mood and referred to his long ministry of 40 years at Bethania and Brynllynfell.
The secretarial arrangements were carried out by Mrs Evans, Spencer Terrace.

From the South Wales Voice of 16th June 1951 came the article on the centenary of Bethania Chapel, which included the following information:-

In 1897, the church extended a 'call' to the Rev W P Jones, Morfa Church, Kidwelly, and the membership then was at 75.

In 1933, the old chapel was demolished and the present one, situated in a delightful spot on high ground, facing the valley, was opened in January 1935, the late Mr D W Davies Ystalyfera, performing the opening ceremony.

The late Rev W P Jones ministered at Bethania Church with marked success for 50 years; and on attaining his 90th birthday in November 1947, he relinquished the pastorate.

The South Wales Voice newspaper of Saturday 30th November 1946 records a public meeting in honour of Rev W.P. Jones held upon the announcement, but not yet the enactment, of his resignation of the pastorate of Bethania Chapel:-


The members of Bethania, Lower Cwmtwrch, with a view to recognising the long ministerial work of their pastor, Rev W P Jones, who has tended his resignation, held a public meeting at the chapel on Thursday night of last week. The meeting was large and representative and among those present were many former members now resident in distant places. The Rev Robert Beynon, BA, Abercrave, presided.

Brief speeches were made by the Rev Robert Davies, Landore, who recalled the days when both were fellow students at Trefecca College. "I have not resigned yet", said he, "but I am giving the matter sincere attention. We shall be then marching together again as in the days of old."

Mr Rhys Powell, ME, on behalf of Cwmgiedd, the mother church of Bethania, addressed the meeting with appropriate verses of poetry.

Mr Charles Edwards, speeching on behalf of the Tabernacl church, Ystradgynlais referred to the sincerity and singleness of heart of Mr Jones as a preacher.

The Rev D Beynon, representing Jerusalem Chapel, Ystalyfera emphasised his many contacts with Mr Jones and his debating powers at the "Cyrddau Misol"

Mr James Powell, speaking on behalf of Bethel, Cwmtwrch, recalled Mr Jones coming to the locality as a young man.

The Rev Robert Thomas, Cwmllynfell, referred to the friendship which existed between them.

The Rev Iris Hopkin, representing Ebenezer Church, said his knowledge of Mr Jones was little as he had only recently come to the neighbourhood. He brought greetings and good wishes from Ebenezer Church.

Mr W A Griffiths, on behalf of Capel Newydd, thanked Mr Jones for services rendered by him to them at Capel Newydd.

The Rev W P Thomas, speaking on behalf of Beulah Church, said he did not come to pronounce judgment but to express admiration. There was none equal to "Hen Gorff" for showing respect to their ministers. This meeting being a good example. On behalf of Beulah Church he brought with him hearty greetings and sincere good wishes.

Mr Fred Pedrick, Nantyffyllon, a former member of Brynllynfell church, mentioned his boyhood days when he was deputy organist at Brynllynfell and felt glad of the directive counsel of Mr Jones.

Mr D W Williams, deacon at Brynllynfell church, referred to the great work accomplished by Mr Jones among them. It was their intention to mark this occasion also at Brynllynfell.

Mr Phillip Phillips, senior deacon at Bethania, spoke of the long friendship between them and presented Mr Jones, on behalf of the church with a handsome cheque.

The Rev W P Jones suitably responded, stating it was a great tax upon him to sit and listen to the many speeches made that night and he thanked all for their presence, hoping he could still be of some service to the church and locality.

In the 4th November 1950 edition of the South Wales Voice there is an article on the 94th birthday of Rev W.P. Jones who was now the former pastor of Bethania:-

Rev W P Jones' (Bethania) 94th Birthday

The Rev WP Jones, former minister of Bethania Church, Cwmtwrch, celebrates his 94th birthday on Saturday (tomorrow). He was born under the shadows of the Black Mountains at a small farm naed 'The Cwrt' at Llanddeusant, Carmarthenshire. He was the only surviving child out of ten children. HIs father reached the age of 102, and his grandfather 95.

His first pastorate was at Morfa Church, Kidwelly. He came to Cwmtwrch in 1896, and having held the pastorate for 50 years, he retired on attaining his 90th birthday. He is the oldest Presbyterian minister in the West Glamorgan Presbytery, oldest not only in years at 94 but oldest on the list of ordained ministers.

He still looks well, comes down into the kitchen daily, and enjoys a chat. All his faculties are unimpaired. Though he no longer preaches, his heart is in Bethania and often members have to turn in after the service and give a report.

The death and funeral of the Rev W.P. Jones is recorded in the South Wales Voice of Saturday 13th January 1951:-


In the death of the Rev W. P. Jones, Maesyderi, Cwmtwrch has lost its oldest inhabitant and the Welsh Presbyterian Connextion its oldest in the list of ordained ministers. He celebrated his 94th birthday last November.
Previous to his coming to Cwmtwrch in 1896, he ministered for seven years at Morfa Church, Kidwelly, being his pastorate. On his reaching his 90th birthday in November 1947, having held the joint pastorate of the Brynllynfell and Bethania churches for 50 years with amrked success, he retired from the active ministry. He continued to fulfill his preaching engagements the following 2 years, when his strength began to fail him and he became confined to his homes. He was twice married. His only surviving sister, who has celebrated her 90th year, resides at New York, USA.
He was born in 1856 at a little farm under the shadow of the Black Mountains in the village of Llanddeusant, Carmarthenshire. He was one of ten children.

A vein of longevity ran in the family, his grandfather reached the age of 95 while his father reached the century.
The Rev W.P. Jones was nurtured in the wake of the great Welsh Religious Revival of 1859, and the hallowed influences of that movement was evident in his life and preaching.
When in his teens, he became prominent in the religious and social life of the village, and counselled by the deacons of the church, he began preaching when twenty years old.
Scholastic advantages were then got only by much sacrifice. He entered the preparatory school known then as "Ysgol Parc y Velvet" Carmarthen, the principle being the Rev Thomas Jeremy. After a year at Carmarthen, he left to follow a special Collegiate Course at Llanelli, under the direction of the Rev J E Davies, MA. Subsequently he was admitted to the Trefecca College. He had not the physical commanding dynamics of the old Welsh pulpit giants, neither had he the clarion-like voice that would rise to the famous Welsh "Hwyl".

He was physically frail and short of stature but had amazing vitality. His preaching was intensely evangelical and in his heyday was in much demand at special preaching meetings. He could not tolerate humbug and cant, was a severe critic of social evils, and one of the most unostentatious. In private conversation he indulged in much humour but would always avoid being facetious in his pulpit.
He belonged to the old generation of preachers, who by their sincerity and singleness of heart and deep convictions, have left an indelible impression upon the religious life of Wales.

The funeral took place on Monday and was largely attended. Following a short service at the house, a public service was held in Bethania Chapel.
The officiating ministers were Rev J.R. Hughes, Bethania; WP Thomas, Beulah; Pastor George Griffiths, Tro'rgleien; Gray Edwards, Ystradgynlais; D R Beynon, Ystalyfera; J D Jones, Pontardawe; Owen Williams, Ystradgynlais.
Mourners were: Miss Megan Morgan, Miss Gwyneth Morgan, step-daughters; Daniel Philip Morgan, Newport; W Emrys Morgan, London; Miss Doreen Fuller, Swansea, niece; Mr and Mrs Davies, Trap, Llandeilo, Mr W Howells, Brynamman, cousins; Captain D Brynmor Anthony, Cardiff, nephew; Mr and Mrs Jack Jones, Ystradgynlais, niece and nephew; Phillip W Phillips, Mr and Mrs Rees Phillips, brothers-in-law; Mrs Margarent Ann Phillips, sister-in-law; Mr and Mrs Tom Mitchell and family, Mrs G George, Mr and Mrs E T Roberts and family, Mr Myrddin Phillips, Mr John W Phillips, Mr Tom Phillips, Mrs David Phillips, Mrs I Evans, Mrs Griffith Hopkins, Mrs May Williams and family, Mr Phillip Williams, Mr Glyn Phillips, Mr Ben Reynolds, Mr and Mrs Tom Lewis, Mrs Aneurin George, Mr and Mrs Sidney Jones, nephews and nieces.
The undertaker was Mr Aneurin George, Ystalyfera.

William Peregrine Jones and Martha Jones - The grave in Bethania cemetery, with the headstone laid flat for safety reasons



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