Tuesday, February 14, 2017

David John Davies - Following the Trail

My Great Grandfather left a short personal 'testimony' of what occurred during and after the religious movement known as the Welsh Revival. His grandson Roy passed it along to my parents who passed it along to me. Hidden within this are a great many place names and tantalizing tidbits of information not just from a grander historical narrative, but from a personal family perspective. One such moments references his brother David John Davies who was also a pastor.

Roy took this testimony and annotated it with historical evidence and further short biographies of people and places mentioned. One such reference read, "The March 1931 issue of Redemption Tidings, the official magazine of the Assemblies of God in Great Britain and Ireland, reported that the Assembly Hall where the funeral service was held was crowded out and hundreds of people failed to get admission. According to Ron Evans, a member of the church in Ystrad Rhondda of which D. J. Davies had been pastor, satin cloth bookmarks with details of his death and funeral were produced to commemorate his work. Ron Evans’s father kept one in his bible for many years afterwards but later it was lost."

I never expect to recover one of those commemorative bookmarks, but I had the issue of an old Pentecostal magazine I could begin to track down.

I ran a quick google search and soon discovered Redemption Tidings was also the name of an old hymn book that the Assemblies of God in the United States published. Wrong Redemption Tidings. I continued to search and discovered that getting an old copy of the Redemption Tidings in question was notoriously difficult. I contacted several people I know who are pastors within the Assemblies of God in Great Britain today and none of them were aware of any. To be honest, most didn't even know such a magazine existed.

I kept searching and eventually found a place that I could buy the entire digitalised collection. Unfortunately it was quite expensive. I intend to buy this collection later because several of my ancestors worked with the Assemblies of God and the early Pentecostal movement which this collection documents. There's an outside chance they might be mentioned in them. For now though, I did not and do not have the money to buy it for the one article in one issue that I was after.

I stored the link to the digital collection on my research list and continued to search. I ran across a magazine called "Heroes of the Faith." I read it initially because it was documenting the life of the Jeffrey's brothers. Within the magazine was a short piece snipped from my Great Grandfather's story about how he baptised them both. I stored it as source evidence for later. Then, at the very end of the magazine, was an old one-page copy of a Redemption Tidings. I quickly found the editors email and sent him a message asking if he had access to the digital copies and if he could possibly locate the March 1931 issue.

The next day I received an email with a copy of the magazine, inside of which was the brief summary of David John Davies' funeral.

A digitalised copy of the original Redemption Tidings
announcement of David John's Funeral
Here is a transcript.

"With Christ"
Mr. D. J. Davies (Yystrad)

There was a very large and representative gathering at the funeral of our beloved brother D. J. Davies, Pastor of Ystrad Assembly, who was also a General Executive Member and also Treasurer of the South Wales District. Our beloved brother was among the first in South Wales to receive the Baptism of the Holy Spirit, so that for more than twenty years he has laboured untiringly and unceasingly in the Rhondda Valley. He was admired by all for his pure life and character. He stood definitely for a life filled with the Holy Ghost. His Assembly at Ystrad of which he was the founder and Pastor will greatly miss him.

On Monday February 10th he was laid to rest at Penrhis Cemetery. The funeral was presided over by T.Mercy, Secretary of South Wales District, assisted by E.C. Morgan and members of South Wales Presbytery. The Assembly Hall was crowded out, hundreds failing to get admission, while a very impressive service was held. Our brother was held in very high esteem, all that took part, Bros. W. Attwood of Risca, D. Davies, of Aberamann, L. Jenkins, of Newbridge, A. Griffiths, of Gedreaman, J. Lickey, an Elder of the Assembly, spoke in very high esteem of their association with our brother, how he has helped and encouraged them in their difficulties.

Our South Wales District will miss our brother as Treasurer and as a counsellor, and the Assembly at Ystrad will miss their Pastor and Leader. Our sympathy is extended to his dear wife who has stood shoulder to shoulder and has laboured faithfully with him since the Welsh Revival."


I want to make a few small notes about this article. The first is that the cemetery in question is actually spelled Penrhys, not Penrhis as the article states. The Welsh and English language have often clashed over spellings. 

Second, I have put in a request at Find A Grave to see is his headstone can be found. I am also not sure how he died, so I will try and discover this. 

Thirdly, I understand that his wife, Julia Edith Davies, re married and emigrated to America. I hope one day to reconnect with that side of the family as all I have at present is one picture of David John Davies. 

David John Davies May 4th 1879 -  Feb 4th 1931

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