Dictionary of Welsh Biography


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DAVIES , WILLIAM DAVID [P.] ( 1897 - 1969 ), minister (Presb.), college tutor and author ;

b. 18 Jan. 1897 in Glynceiriog, Denbs. , only son of Isaac Davies , Presb. minister , and his wife. His father moved to Rhyd-ddu , then to Bryn-rhos , and finally to Bangor . The son was educated at Caernarfon county school and Friars School , Bangor . He gained a scholarship to Jesus College , Oxford , but his studies were interrupted by the war. Having registered as a conscientious objector , he served as an agricultural worker in Llŷn . Whilst there he began to preach at South Beach church , Pwllheli . After the war he returned to Oxford , where he gained a sec- ond class in classics, ancient history and philosophy, and a first class in theology. He gained a B.D. degree for research work, becoming the first Nonconformist to return to Wales with this Oxford degree. He was a scholar of his college and was offered a Fellowship and an appointment as tutor of theology at the University. But since he was intent on being a Presbyterian minister he could not accept their terms which required that he become a member of the Church of England .

In 1923 he was ord., and he served his ministry in the churches of Shirland Rd. , London ( 1923-26 ), and Cathedral Rd. , Cardiff ( 1926-28 ). In 1925 he m. Margaret Evelyn Palmer and they had a son. He was appointed professor of the history of religions and the philosophy of religion in 1928 at the Theological College , Aberystwyth , but resigned in 1933 following some unfortunate events. It became apparent that his mind was disturbed , and he displayed a split personality for the rest of his life. He moved from place to place and lived at Neath and Machynlleth , and he also lived in one or two other districts as a member of staff on the weekly newspaper, Y Cymro . He had charge of the churches in the pastorate of Llangadfan, Mont. , but the few months he spent with them proved calamitous. Eventually he moved to Llandrindod Wells , where Ithon Road church gave him the opportunity to recover. He d. there 7 July. 1969 . His friends and admirers raised a fund to place a monument on his grave.

W.D. Davies had a pleasant personality, he was a first-class scholar and a powerful preacher . He possessed particular qualifications required to meet the needs of the mid-twentieth century. He excelled also as an author who could readily draw upon all sources of learning and literature. He published some books on religious topics, namely Cristnogaeth a meddwl yr oes ( 1932 ), Datblygiad Duw ( 1934 ), and a penetrating and highly readable handbook on the Epistle to the Ephesians ( 1933 ). During his ‘itinerant’ period he took an interest in writing essays and poems — this is when he began to call himself W.D.P. Davies , though no-one knew what ‘P’ stood for. [He said ‘P’ was for ‘ Pechadur ’ (sinner), but it may have derived from his wife's maiden name.] He published Y diafol i dalu ( 1948 ), and Tannau telyn crwydrol ( 1953 ). Presbyterianism , and Wales in general, suffered a deep loss from the dualism which wrecked his personality.

Sources:

  • Blwyddiadur y Methodistiaid Calfinaidd , 1970 , 277;
  • personal acquaintance.

Author:

Reverend Gomer Morgan Roberts, M.A., (1904-93), Pont-rhyd-y-fen / St Dogmael's / Llandybïe

Published date: 2001