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Flintshire Historical Society publications


Vol. 17 1957

Thomas Jones of Denbigh, 1756-1820

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On the 9 September, 1796, Thomas Jones, a preacher living in Mold, received
a letter from his friend, Thomas Charles of Bala, who was in London at the time. I
Charles, with other nonconformist leaders, had been given luncheon on board the
ship Duff which had recently returned from carrying thirty missionaries with their
families to the South Sea Islands, under the auspices of the London Missionary
Society. It had been a thrilling voyage. The ship had broken the speed record
for those days by travelling 11,000 miles in just over seven weeks. On arrival
the missionaries received a great welcome, being given accommodation in a
building which had been prepared against the promised return of Captain Bligh
of the Bounty. And, to crown everything, the fruit of the bread tree was ready
to hand for the first communion service to be held on the Islands. Thomas Jones
was so delighted with the letter that he sent it to the Calvinistic Methodist
Association of October 3rd, where he was asked to undertake its translation into
Welsh and its publication.'
The success of this letter in creating interest in missionary enterprise all through
Wales and in raising funds for the cause led Thomas Charles and Thomas Jones
to bring out a religious journal in Welsh. There was urgent need for such a publica-
tion, especially for travelling evangelists, who were mostly self-educated. Unable
to afford current periodicals in English, even when they could understand them,
they had little enough to read in Welsh apart from the Bible. During the eighteenth
century the few attempts at publishing periodicals in Welsh had come to an
untimely end. Nobody had sufficient capital to finance them for long in a country
where literacy was low, money scarce and transport primitive. So a venture of
this kind required a great deal of faith and some financial backing. Fortunately
Thomas Jones had both, together with the ability to write clearly and concisely;
while Charles had the necessary contacts and in April, 1799, the first number
of the Trysorfa Ysprydol or Spiritual Treasury appeared under the joint editorship
of the two friends. It was printed by W. C. Jones of Chester, and Thomas Jones
saw it through the press. Only six numbers appeared and it never paid,* for the
circulation was less than 600. Its contents, however, were varied and of a high
1 Llythyr at Mr. T. Jones o'r Wyddgrug yn cynnwys Hanesfer ofordaith Iwyddiannus y Lhng
Duff. Caerlleon. 1798.
2 D. E. Jenkins, Thomas Charles of Bala, ii. 191.
3 Idwal Jones. Thomas Jones o Ddinbych—Awdur a Chyhoeddwr (includes bibliography).
Journal of the Welsh Bibliographical Society. July, 1939.
Isaac Ffoulkes. IAais Rhyddid. 1904. p. 10.
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