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The Carmarthenshire Historian


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M. H. Jones 1873-1930

Although he was not born in the county, the Rev. M. H. Jones qualifies as a Carmarthenshire historian by virtue of his scholarly association with the Carmarthenshire Antiquarian Society and his role as editor of the Society's Transactions, to which he contributed many articles, during a period of twenty-five years. Otherwise he is distinguished as a leading historian of the Welsh Calvinistic Methodist connexion.

Morgan Hugh Jones was born on 26th April 1873 at Treherbert in the Rhondda Valley and first trained as a teacher before entering the ministry in 1892. After theological training at Trevecca in Breconshire he entered University College at Aberystwyth in 1897 and there took an honours degree in Welsh three years later.

Following ordination in 1902 he became pastor at Abercynon, Glamorgan, but soon moved to take charge of Water-street Chapel at Carmarthen. His association with the town was cemented by his marriage to a daughter of John Wyndham Lewis, a former minister of the chapel. In 1906 he left Carmarthen to become a tutor at the Calvinistic Methodist preparatory school at Trevecca, where he remained for three years before returning to his native Rhondda to become minister at Ton Pentre. In 1920 came another move, this time to minister at Penllwyn near Aberystwyth, before his return to Carmarthen in 1929, but his second ministry at Water-street Chapel was a short one, for he died the following year at the age of fifty-seven. He is buried in Carmarthen cemetery.

M. H. Jones took a leading part in the formation of the Carmarthenshire Antiquarian Society, of which he became the first honorary secretary. George Eyre Evans, who described him as founder of the society, has recorded how early in 1905 M. H. Jones consulted him about the setting up of an antiquarian society in the town before calling a meeting, which was held at the Guildhall. Within a few months "M.H." left for Trevecca and was succeeded as secretary by George Eyre Evans.

But he retained close connection with the society as editor of its Transactions, which office kept alive his interest in Carmarthenshire and its history. The twenty-one volumes which he edited and contributed to up to the time of his death are a memorial well-known to all who are interested in Carmarthenshire's local history. In 1911-12 he served as president of the society in succession to General Sir James Hills-Johnes, VC and in 1919 he was elected an honorary member, a distinction which had been granted to few.

As an historian, his greatest contribution was made in the field of Welsh Methodist history. Although he was already an antiquarian and would always remain one, his stay at Trevecca between 1906 and 1909 persuaded him towards an almost obsessive interest in Methodist history as a result of his study of the many records preserved there. By 1914 he was well qualified to become secretary of the Calvinistic Methodist Historical Society. Doubtless he had a hand in the formation of the C.M. Historical Society in 1916 and edited its journal, Cylchgrawn Cymdeithas Hanes Methodistiaid Calfinaidd, from its inception, jointly with others for the first four years, becoming sole editor in 1920.

The archives at Trevecca were in a sorry state when M. H. Jones arrived there, but they aroused his interest and he soon set about the laborious task of cataloguing and indexing them with painstaking dedication, thereby rendering inestimable service to students of the connexion's history. Additionally, he produced printed bibliographies, contributed many articles to the journal of the connexion's historical society, and published the Itinerary of Howel Harris. Perhaps most important was 'The Trevecca Letters', a work of research containing an extensive inventory, together with analytical essays indicating their value as historical sources. The work was submitted as a thesis for the degree of Ph.D., which was awarded to him by the University of Wales in 1929, and appeared posthumously in published form in 1932.
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