Dictionary of Welsh Biography

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BRYAN , JOHN ( 1776 - 1856 ), Wesleyan Methodist minister .

Born at Llanfyllin , where he spent much of his childhood with his uncle, a certain John Rogers . At the age of 12 he moved to Shrewsbury , and then in the course of the following years to Corwen , Bala , and Wrexham , whence, in 1798 , he went to Chester as an assistant in the drapery business of the Misses Williams , daughters of Richard Williams of Rackery , near Gresford . He underwent the spiritual experience of conversion in Dec. 1798 and joined the Welsh Calvinistic Methodists at Chester , but he soon transferred his membership to the Octagon , the Wesleyan Methodist chapel in the city. In Feb. 1800 he began to preach as a local preacher , and during the next eighteen months he gave useful assistance to Owen Davies and John Hughes , the two missionaries appointed by the Methodist conference to North Wales in 1800 . In Aug. 1801 he was admitted to the Wesleyan Methodist ministry , and itinerated on various circuits in Wales until 1815 . From 1815 until 1824 he travelled on circuits in England , but he left the ministry in 1824 and resided at Leeds as a grocer and tea-merchant until 1831 . In that year he returned to Wales because of the failing health of his wife, and set up as a grocer in Caernarvon , where he continued to serve as a local preacher until within a few weeks of his death. He died 28 May 1856 .

Bryan was somewhat tactless and impulsive, and occasionally his flashing wit hurt. But as a translator of some of John and Charles Wesley 's hymns into Welsh , as well as some of Owen Davies 's theological essays; as a champion of Arminianism against Calvinism ; and, above all, as an original and effective preacher , he was a valuable addition to the ranks of the Welsh Wesleyan Methodist missionaries in the early days of the 19th cent. , and was the means of converting many to religion and to the church he served so long.


  • William Davies , John Bryan a'i Amserau (Bangor, 1900) ;
  • NLW MS 3504;
  • A. H. Williams , Welsh Wesleyan Methodism, 1800-1858 its origins, growth and secessions (1935) , 97-8, 170-1, and passim .


Albert Hughes Williams, M.A., (1907-96), Cardiff

Published date: 1959