Dictionary of Welsh Biography

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DAVIES , JOHN ( 1772 - 1855 ), school teacher and missionary .

He was a school teacher under Thomas Charles of Bala at Llanwyddelan in 1800 and afterwards missionary for fifty-four years under the London Missionary Society in the South Sea Islands ; b. 11 July 1772 at Pendugwm , a little farm, in the parish of Llanfihangel-yng-Ngwynfa, Mont. He was a weaver 's son, and after a little education in Madam Bevan 's schools he himself set up a school at Llanrhaeadr-ym-Mochnant . He joined the Methodists and used to worship at a private house called Penllys . When a call went out for teachers for the island of Tahiti , he volunteered for the work, was accepted, and, with his wife, set sail, 5 May 1800 . Elizabeth Davis records a visit which she paid him in Tahiti .

He came from the same neighbourhood as the hymnist Ann Griffiths [some of his work is included in the edition of her hymns published by Owen M. Edwards ] and wrote frequently to her brother, John . There is also still extant a great deal of correspondence addressed by him to John Hughes ( 1775 - 1854 ) , of Pont Robert .

He was the author of a dictionary and grammar of the Tahitian language and translated into that language the Pilgrim's Progress , substantial portions of the New Testament and Psalms , Brown 's catechism, the Westminster catechism , and a number of smaller works. His History of the Tahitian Mission, 1799-1830 , ed. C.W. Newbury ( Cambridge ), was published in 1962 .

Although he was blind for the last ten years of his life he continued his devoted labours; he d. 19 Aug. 1855 after having served abroad for an unbroken period of fifty-five years.


  • R. Williams , Montgomeryshire Worthies (1894) , 40-1;
  • G. Penar Griffith , Cenhadon Cymreig , 129-33;
  • E. Lewis Evans , Cymru a'r Gymdeithas Genhadol, sef hanes ei Chychwyn (1945) , 30, 36, 59, 181, 193.


Reverend Dr Evan Lewis Evans, D.Th., (1898-1978), Pontardulais / Swansea

Published date: 1959