Dictionary of Welsh Biography


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JONES , JOHN OWEN ( Ap Ffarmwr ; 1861 - 1899 ), journalist ,

son of Owen and Emma Jones ; b. at Ty'n y Morfa , Trefdraeth , Anglesey , 1 Jan. 1861 . Following his father's death and his mother's second marriage, the family removed to Cae'r Llechau , Dwyran (about 1865 ). Educated at the Board school , Dwyran , he was apprenticed at 14 as a draper to Lewis Lewis , Caernarvon . During this period he read widely in the works of authors like Darwin , Huxley , Ruskin , and Carlyle , and attended a school kept by a Mr. Kirk in the town. From there, he went to University College of Wales , Aberystwyth for three years, following this with a year at Owens College , Manchester . For a period after this, he was London correspondent of Y Genedl Gymreig and the North Wales Observer and Express .

He returned from London to set up a school at Dwyran , and continued to write for the newspapers . Some of his contributions on many subjects may be seen in the North Wales Observer and Express , Y Werin , Y Genedl , and Y Cymro during 1883-95 , and in Y Geninen 1891 , 1892 , and 1897 .

In 1891 he was appointed sub-editor of the newspapers published by the Welsh National Press at Caernarvon . He removed to Merthyr Tydfil in 1895 to become editor of the Merthyr Times , and in 1897 went to Nottingham as leader writer of the Nottingham Daily Express (see under Edwards , David . During this time, he wrote a biography of Gladstone ( Cofiant Gladstone , Caernarvon , 1898 ). He d. at Nottingham 2 March 1899 and was buried in the Methodist burial-ground , Dwyran , 7 March . A memorial was placed on his grave in 1902 , partly by subscriptions from Anglesey farm labourers .

As his pen-name suggests, he took a great interest in agricultural matters , and he is remembered particularly for his efforts to ameliorate the working conditions of Anglesey farm labourers . As a journalist he naturally wrote on many subjects, including a very effective series of articles on the state of the Established Church in rural Wales . But on his return from London to Dwyran , he took up the cause of the farm workers , and published a series of articles on this subject in the North Wales Observer and Express . A Welsh version of these was published in Y Werin , a halfpenny paper which developed as the main organ of the movement to secure improvements in agricultural working hours. Meetings were held throughout Anglesey , culminating in a conference at Llangefni on Easter Monday 1890 , when a reduction of two hours a day was secured from the farmers . A similar conference was held at Llangefni , 2 May 1891 , and an unsuccessful attempt made to form an agricultural labourers union . In spite of this failure, the farm workers determined to express their appreciation of Ap Ffarmwr 's efforts on their behalf, and at a further public meeting at Llangefni , 11 May 1893 , he was presented with a gold watch by them. At this meeting, too, a resolution was passed to form a union, calling on Ap Ffarmwr to take the lead in this effort. No union was formed, however, owing to the opposition of the farmers , the unwillingness of the workers to pay subscriptions and, possibly, because Ap Ffarmwr moved to Merthyr before completing the work. A good example of his style may be seen in an article in Y Cymro , 31 July 1890 , which states his views on the part which workers should play in politics. (See further under Edwards , David and Griffith , R. A. )

Sources:

  • R. Hughes , Enwogion Môn, 1850–1912 (1913) ;
  • Hanes a Chyfansoddiadau Arobryn Eisteddfod [Môn] Llanerchymedd, 1911 (Llangefni, 1912) , 98-132, essay by O. Llew Owain ;
  • Y Genedl Gymreig , 16 May 1893 , 7 March 1899 ;
  • on the movement to form the Union, see D. Lleufer Thomas , The Royal Commission on Labour Vol. II, 125-43 (C 6894-xiv, 1893).

Author:

Frank Price Jones, (1920-75), Bangor

Published date: 1959