Robert Jones - Ochr y Foel, Llanllyfni ~ 1806-1896
Jones was born in a farmhouse named Dolwenith near
Llanllyfni on 14th November 1806. When he was fourteen
days old he was baptised at Saint Rhedyw's Church.
His family moved to Cae'r Waun in the same parish
when he was four years old. He lived there for about
28 years. He moved to his wife's house, Ochryfoel,
Mynydd Llanllyfni, where he lived for more than 58
years. He was a true son of the district, and it
is said that the sharp contrast between the romantic
scenery and the hard life of the country-people exerted
a strong influence upon him.
attended the Methodist Sunday School which was held
in Catrin Samuel's house, next to Rhwng y Ddwy Afon.
(Only the ruins may be seen now.)
Image: Dolwenith, where Robert Jones was born in 1806
only had one year in Llanllyfni Church School, and
that when he was 12 years old. Pupils had to attend
each service on a Sunday, but he was thrashed many
a time for being absent from church.
as a rubbler in the quarries as there was little
choice for a boy at that time. But he delighted
Image: Ochr y Foel, where Robert Jones lived for 58 years.
In the picture is his daughter Ann Owen, with her husband.
he had no time for the Church of England,
the Rector of Saint Rhedyw's, John Jones, was a great
him by lending and giving him books. Over the years,
he collected a large number of the choicest books
on Theology. He and the rector remained friends until
John Jones died. Very close to Cae'r Waun lived Alsi
Hughes, a zealous member of Ebeneser Baptist Church.
Robert Jones would visit her frequently at Taleithin
Isaf in order to discuss religious matters and in
particular his doubts about Methodist doctrine. He
was converted and was baptised in the River Llyfni.
In 1834, he started to preach. "A careless and
untidy individual by appearance, without understanding
of his fellow-man", according to some people,
but to those who knew him better, "an other-worldly
believer, unshakeable in his convictions, and a loyal
friend." He was ordained in Ebeneser, Llanllyfni
started to visit Mrs Margaret Hughes, a widow,
in her parent's house - Ochryfoel. She was born at
Maes y Geirchen, near Bangor, in 1800. John Thomas
son of Thomas Pritchard, Ochryfoel, Llanllyfni) was
her father, and Ann - the eldest daughter of Maes
y Geirchen - was her mother. They moved
order to keep the Four Crosses Hotel near Menai
sometime between 1805-7. Her grandmother died
in 1817, and her father inherited Ochryfoel. Margaret
married John Hughes, her cousin, who was born
1798: A handsome man, it is said, who died of
tuberculosis in 1828. They said he was a Baptist by
She was baptised in the River Llyfni, in the
summer of 1829.
Jones at 40.
Jones was still living in Cae'r Waun. But although
the journey was only a mile, it was very difficult.
He would cross rivers, walls and marshland to see
her. They would read and talk generally, as members
of the same chapel. After some months, Margaret implied
that they ought not to meet so frequently, lest people
were to say that they were lovers. Robert answered, "But
we are lovers, and who cares whether they say it
or not!" During the winter of 1837-8, he would
wear clogs and carry a lantern in his hand, because
the ground was so wet and the night so dark. Sometimes
Margaret would laugh at him because he looked so
odd! There was an obvious answer to this inconvenient
situation. Therefore Robert and Margaret married
on 23rd February 1838. Margaret inherited the farm
some years later, and they lived in Ochryfoel for
the rest of their lives.
said "In the midst of all difficulties I had,
for many years, unsurpassed respite from the troubles
of the world. Providence gave this great priviledge
to me by giving me a wife who was both faithful and
devoted who took upon herself my care. This she did
most willingly and diligently. She did more for me
in this sense than did anyone else." She died
on 10th January 1875.)
Campaign for Education
appears that Robert Jones felt throughout his life
the effect of having so little education in his early
years. "The absence of educational opportunities," he
said, "was most significant; this lack is one
which the writer feels most strongly in the face
of the challenges he undertook."
Rector of Llanllyfni, John Jones was also keen to
build a British School in the village, (although,
as a Churchman, he should have favoured a National
School, he recognised the fact that most of the people
to William Hobley, the establishment of the British
School is attributed to the monthly meeting of the
Llanllyfni Methodists which was held in Nebo in 1860.
(In Capel Bach: the large chapel was not opened until
25th June 1861.) Although Robert Jones, Ochr-y-Foel,
was not a member of the monthly meeting, he attended
the meeting to emphasise the need for the school.
He blamed the Methodists to their faces that it was
they who were to blame for the lack of a school.
They were by far the most numerous religious group.
is believed that this attack by Robert Jones caused
three Methodists, Thomas Jones (Swyddfa'r Post),
William Jones (Coed Cae Du) and Robert Roberts (Nant-y-Gwyddel),
to discuss the matter together and they decided that
William Jones should go to Bangor to ask John Phillips
to press the appropriate authorities to have a school
in Llanllyfni. (The school was opened in 1862.)
says in his memoirs that he had the greatest respect
for the Reverend. John Jones, Talysarn (perhaps the
most influential Methodist of the day), who was a
loyal friend to him, who would defend him in every
instance when others would mock.
was appointed Chairman of the Baptists of Wales in
published 12 books, the most important being his
anthology Gemau Duwinyddol (see below), and he worked
hard to sell them with the only purpose of sharing
profit he received to keep a number of small chapels
from closing. He also wrote a large number of hymns.
the Tithe War he was a loyal Liberal.
Jones at 95, five months before his death in 1896.
he reached that final peace far from the troubles
of the world, he showed forebearance in his final
illness. His daughter cared for him with much tenderness." He
died peacefully on Good Friday 3rd April 1896. He
is buried in Ebeneser Cemetery where he had been
Minister for 60 years.
In July 2007, nantlle.com received an e-mail from Jessica Blank who wrote to
us having found a copy of Robert Jones' anthology,
Gemau Duwinyddol, in a charity shop in Florida (or
thrift shop as they are known in the USA).
Jessica kindly sent nantlle.com the following scanned images of the book:
Image: The cover of Gemau Duwinyddol by Robert Jones.
Image: The introduction to Gemau Duwinyddol by Robert Jones.