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Parochial Lives

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Manylion a Disgrifiad y Llyfr | Book Details & Description

  • ISBN: 9780863817908
  • Author: Roger L. Brown
  • Publication September 2002
  • Format: Paperback, 182x123 mm, 212 pages

An entertaining collection of biographies of eight Welsh Victorian clergy, comprising an analysis of their parochial, ecclesiastical and cultural activities together with an appreciation of their literary compositions. 8 black-and-white illustrations.

Gwales Review
The parochial lives of the title are those of eight Victorian clergymen: William Latham Bevan of Hay (who will be known to fans of Kilvert's Diary); William Evans of Rhymney; William Walsham How of Whittington; David Jones of Penmaen-mawr; Rice Morgan of Llansamlet; Richard Williams Morgan of Tregynon; David Parry of Llywel; and Edward Burnard Squire of Swansea. Their succinct biographies illuminate the dominant themes of Anglican life at the time: competition from the powerful Nonconformist denominations; poverty, the threat of disestablishment (although this did not actually take place until 1920); resentment against the Anglo-Welsh bishops (not one Welsh-speaking bishop was appointed between 1702 and 1870); the Evangelical movement and, obliquely, the influence of Tractarianism. As such, it is a useful contribution to religious studies for the general reader, providing an easily accessible overview of the nineteenth century church not generally available, since studies in Welsh History invariably show the negative aspects of the church as opposed to the positive aspects of nonconformity.

Roger Brown's book goes a considerable way to redressing the balance and should encourage readers to pursue their studies further and obtain a fairer picture. It is interesting to see these different personalities fighting the church's corner, not all of them in edifying ways, though the majority certainly do credit to the beleaguered church. The book, however, also demonstrates the immense influence of Nonconformity on evangelical churchmen who emulated its preaching style and indeed imitated with considerable success what would today be described as its 'outreach' activities in their parishes.

Although the biographies rely mainly on secondary sources, some now long out of print, Roger Brown has also used original records, such as those of Queen Anne's Bounty and the Ecclesiastical Commission. There are a few typographical errors, and, on page 197, the reference should be to the Augean stables. One caption is incorrect - that to Ellis Owen Ellis's cartoon of three English-speaking bishops being driven out of Wales by Richard Williams Morgan brandishing a leek, since Bishop Thirlwall is named instead of Bishop Bethell, whereas Thirlwall had learnt Welsh.

Susan Passmore