Dictionary of Welsh Biography

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JONES , MORDECAI ( 1813 - 1880 ), promoter of British Schools, colliery proprietor, etc. ;

b. 2 May 1813 at Brecon , son of Richard Jones , boat-builder on the Brecon Canal . He was educated at the expense of a coal-merchant at Brecon , and later succeeded his patron as the proprietor, trading in coal and lime from Llanelly , Brecknock , to Brecon by means of boats on the canal. He owned a brewery at Brecon ( 1841 ), purchased the Abergavenny Gas Works , and was chairman of the Brecon Gas Works from its beginning until his death. He was also successful in his colliery enterprises, sinking the Nantmelyn Colliery , Cwm-dare , in the Aberdare Valley , in 1866 , and the Mardy Colliery in the Rhondda Fach Valley in 1876 . He sent the first load of coal from the latter to Brecon on the day he took office as high sheriff of Brecknock . He was mayor of Brecon in 1854 and a deputy lieutenant for Brecknock , and chairman of the Brecon School Board from its formation up to 1879 . He was an ardent Calvinistic Methodist from his youth, and did much in promoting the establishment of Welsh and English Calvinistic Methodist churches ; he granted freely freehold sites for all denominations on his Mardy estate.

He was one of the chief promoters of the British and Foreign School Society in South Wales , and a contributor to the Normal School , Brecon ( 1846 ). He incurred the wrath of the editor of The Principality [ Ieuan Gwynedd , q.v. ] by supporting the efforts of David Charles III (q.v.) , Trevecka , in the face of the strong opposition of the Independents and Baptists , to combine Government aid with voluntary charity. He agreed with the policy of the North Wales Calvinistic Methodist Association in supporting the ‘ Cambrian Education Society ’ [see Owen , Sir Hugh ] to establish schools and obtain Government grants. He was secretary to the group of Calvinistic Methodist ministers and elders in Brecknock who sent a Memorial to J. P. Kay Shuttleworth of the Committee of Council on Education , urging that H.M. Inspectors of Schools should have a knowledge of Welsh ( June 1848 ). At a conference held at Merthyr Tydfil , Nonconformist ministers from Monmouthshire , Glamorgan , and Brecknock decided to accept Government aid, and the ‘ South Wales British Schools Association ’ was formed, with Mordecai Jones as Treasurer and Sir Benjamin Hall as president ( Y Diwygiwr , Ion. 1855 , 36). He d. 30 Aug. 1880.


  • Theophilus Jones , History of the County of Brecknock (Glanusk edition), iv, 257, 297, 309;
  • The Principality , 8 June and 8 Sept. 1848 ;
  • Y Diwygiwr , May 1846, Jan. 1855 ;
  • letter in the Brecon Museum, 12 March 1841 ;
  • The Weekly Mail , 4 Sept. 1880 ;
  • Elizabeth Phillips , A history of the pioneers of the Welsh coalfield (1925) , 205-7, 249;
  • personal knowledge.


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

Corrections and additions:


He was the son of a nephew of Robert Jones , Rhos-lan ( DWB , 507-8); see an article by J.E. Caerwyn Williams in Trans. Caerns. Hist. Soc. for 1964 .


Published date: 1959