Dictionary of Welsh Biography

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EVANS , JOHN ( 1723 - 1817 ), ‘of Bala ’, Calvinistic Methodist exhorter .

Born at Glan'rafon , Wrexham , 30 Oct. 1723 ; his parents removed in 1727 to Adwy'r Clawdd — it was John Evans who gave the land on which Adwy chapel , the first Methodist chapel in North Wales , was built, 1750-3 . For a while he was a weaver , then a miner in the Minera lead-mines , but in 1742 he went to Bala and resumed the craft of weaving ; later he was a book-binder , and later on in life (in the trust deed of Adwy chapel in 1804 ) is described as a ‘ tallow-chandler .’

In 1744 he m. Margaret , daughter of the poet Morris Roberts (d. 1723? ) , of Llanuwch-llyn ; their daughter m. William Edwards ( 1773 - 1853 ) , the hymn-writer . In 1745 , Evans was admitted into the newly formed Methodist society at Bala , and soon began to itinerate in the surrounding country, but it was not till 1765 that he was officially given the status of exhorter . He acquired great repute as one of the most reliable leaders of North Wales Methodism ; his ready wit was matched by acute observation and wise judgement. The scheme for paying for chapels by small regular contributions was of his devising. When Thomas Charles settled at Bala , John Evans became his right-hand man. By the end of the century he had become an incorporation of North Wales Methodist tradition, and it was appropriate that his reminiscences should be published by Charles in the Drysorfa , 1799 , 1809-13 (separately reprinted, Machynlleth , 1885 ). Not less appropriate was it that John Evans , as ‘the oldest and most respected man in the Connexion,’ should open the first Calvinistic Methodist ordination service in North Wales , 19 June 1811 , at Bala . He d. 12 Aug. 1817 , and was buried at Llanycil .

It was John Evans who in 1759 translated John Wesley 's Primitive Physick , and in 1761 his Rules of the United Societies , but the expenses of publication seem to have been borne by Thomas Foulkes .


  • Robert Jones (Rhoslan) , Drych yr Amseroedd ;
  • Y Geiniogwerth (Denbigh) , 1849 ;
  • W. Williams , Methodistiaeth Dwyrain Meirionydd (1902) ;
  • D. E. Jenkins , Life of Thomas Charles (Denbigh, 1908) , consult index;
  • H. Llew Williams , Hanes y Methodistiaid Calfinaidd yn Adwy'r Clawdd (1947) ;
  • Gildas Tibbott, Cylchgrawn Cymdeithas Hanes y Methodistiaid Calfinaidd , 1961, 26-35, 53-60;
  • Goronwy Prys Owen, Atgofion John Evans y Bala (1997);
  • and the usual books on early Welsh Methodist history.


Emeritus Professor Robert Thomas Jenkins, C.B.E., D.Litt., Ll.D., F.S.A., (1881-1969), Bangor

Published date: 1959