Dictionary of Welsh Biography

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JENKINS , JOHN DAVID ( 1828 - 1876 ), cleric, philanthropist ;

b. at Merthyr Tydfil , 30 Jan. 1828 , the son of William David Jenkins (d. 1834 ), Castellau Fach , Llantrisant, Glam. , and Maria , widow of Thomas Dyke , druggist , Merthyr Tydfil . He was educated at Taliesin Williams 's school at Merthyr , Cowbridge grammar school , and Jesus College , Oxford ( B.A. 1850 , M.A. 1852 , B.D. 1859 , and D.D. 1871 ). While at Oxford he became a good classical and oriental scholar , and in after years became proficient in modern languages . He was ordained priest on 15 Oct. 1852 , and was sent to the Cape of Good Hope , where he landed in Nov. 1852 . Shortly after his arrival bishop Gray sent him to Pietermaritzburg in Natal , 20 Jan. 1853 . Here he remained for the next six years; he was especially charged with the ministrations to Her Majesty's forces there, and at various outposts. He was made canon of Pietermaritzburg by bishop Colenso in 1856 . At the end of this period he was invalided home. He returned to Oxford where, feeling that railwaymen had no parish, he devoted a large portion of his time in visiting them, and was widely known and respected as the ‘ Rail men's Apostle ’; there, too, he wrote a considerable book on the history of the Christian Church . The first volume of this was printed at Oxford , 1869 , under the title of The Age of the Martyrs (later translated into Welsh and published at Cardiff , 1890 ); the rest of the book is still in manuscript. He became vicar of Aberdare , 7 March 1870 , but only lived there six years, dying on 9 Nov. 1876 , at the age of 48.


  • The Weekly Mail , 11 and 18 Nov. 1876 ;
  • Yr Haul , June 1926 ;
  • Cardiff Free Libraries: Catalogue of Printed Literature in the Welsh Department (1898) , 1898 , 253;
  • Notes on the Ancient Parish of St. John the Baptist, Aberdare (2nd ed.), portrait, 30, etc.;
  • C. Wilkins , The history of Merthyr Tydfil (Merthyr Tydfil, 1867) , 1867 , 294.


Watkin William Price, M.A., (1873-1967), Aberdare

Published date: 1959