Griffith Jones (priest)

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Griffith Jones.

Griffith Jones (early 1684 – 8 April 1761) was a minister of the Church of England famous for his work in organising circulating schools in Wales. His name is usually associated with that of Llanddowror, Carmarthenshire.

Jones was born in 1683 or 1684 at Penboyr, Carmarthenshire, and christened on May 1, 1684. He was educated at Carmarthen Grammar School. He was ordained in 1708 and appointed rector of Llanddowror in 1716. He remained there for the rest of his life.

Jones was an enthusiastic member of the Society for the Promotion of Christian Knowledge, and in 1731 he started circulating schools in Carmarthenshire in order to teach people to read. The schools were held in one location for about three months before moving (or 'circulating') to another place. The language of instruction in these schools was the language of the people, Welsh. The idea was met with enthusiasm and by his death, in 1761, it is estimated that over 200,000 people had learnt to read in schools organised by Jones throughout Wales.

Jones taught people to read that they might know those things that were necessary for their salvation – the curriculum at his schools consisted only in the study of the Bible and the Catechism of the Church of England. But in doing so he created a country with a literate population with a deep knowledge of the Christian scriptures. This in turn is believed by many to have played a key role in making the people of Wales ready to accept Methodism.

Jones is often thought of as the forerunner of Methodist ideas in Wales. He was a powerful preacher and he would preach in the open air, as later the Methodists would do, and bring upon himself the censure of bishops for preaching at irregular meetings. He lent his critical support to the Methodist revival, and was associated with the early leaders. Daniel Rowland was converted through his preaching.

His work was sponsored by the wealthy philanthropist Bridget Bevan, who continued to manage and support the schools after Griffith's death.


  • Davies, Gwyn (2002), A light in the land: Christianity in Wales, 200–2000. Bridgend: Bryntirion Press. ISBN 1-85049-181-X
  • Walker, David (Ed.) (1976), A history of the Church in Wales. Penarth: Published for the Historical Society of the Church in Wales by Church in Wales Publications.
  • Cavenagh F.A, Professor of Education, University of Swansea, 1930. "The Life and Work of Griffith Jones of Llanddowror". Published at Cardiff, University of Wales Press Board, 1930.
  • James, E. Wyn, ‘Griffith Jones (1684–1761) of Llanddowror and His “Striking Experiment in Mass Religious Education” in Wales in the Eighteenth Century’, in Volksbildung durch Lesestoffe im 18. und 19. Jahrhundert / Educating the People through Reading Material in the 18th and 19th Centuries, ed. Reinhart Siegert, with Peter Hoare & Peter Vodosek (Bremen, Germany: Edition Lumière, 2012), 275-92. ISBN 978-3-943245-03-5.

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