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John Edward Williams (1819-1896)


John Edward Williams was born in approximately 1819 at Mochdre, Montgomeryshire, the son of Richard and Mary Williams. They were certainly at Upper Wernhir in 1841 and John took over the running of the farm, probably at some point in the 1840s. He moved to Steppes farm, Gwernesney probably at the end of 1851 and farmed there until 1873 until he made his final move to Ty Poeth farm, Llanfihangel Pontymoile. He died on 17th May 1896 at Pontymoile.

This photograph of John Edward’s family was taken at Ty Poeth farm, in the early 1890s.

Pictured: Front row: Eliza (nee Evans) and her husband John Edward Williams.


Left to right back row: Alfred Henry Williams, Sara Emma Williams, Hannah Agnes Williams, Edward Oliver Williams, Harriet Matilda Williams, John Walters MBE* who married Mary Temperance Williams.


* John Walters, from Llanover, was chief accountant at Panteg Steelworks and was awarded the MBE for his services during the first world war. He helped set up a military hospital at Panteg House in Griffithstown and also helped set up facilities for the Belgium refugees who were sent to Pontypool.

John married Eliza Evans on 20th May 1847 at Usk Baptist Chapel. They had quite a number of children together:

Emily Augusta  (born 1849 Llanbaddock, died 1907 San Francisco USA)

Eliza (Born 1850 Llanbaddock, died 1913 at Pontypool Hospital)

John Benjamin (born 1853, Gwernesney, died 1911 Seattle USA)

Mary Temperance (born 1855, Gwernesney, died 1936 Griffithstown, Pontypool)

William (born c.1855 Gwernesney)

Edward Oliver (born 1858 Gwernesney, died 1939 Pontypool)

Alfred Henry (born 1859 Gwernesney, died 1933 Griffithstown, Pontypool)

Arthur Sydney (born 1861 Gwernesney, died 1939 New Zealand)

Sara Emma (born 1863 Gwernesney, died 1933 New Inn, Pontypool)

Harriet Matilda  (born 1865 Gwernesney, died 1923 Griffithstown, Pontypool)

Hannah Agnes (born 1868 Gwernesney, died 1923 Griffithstown Pontypool).

So what else do we know about John? His obituary in the Free Press told the story of his life, in this way:

“The deceased, who was 76 years of age, and was very highly esteemed throughout the district, had, during his long and useful life, actively identified himself with every good movement which tended to ameliorate the condition of all classes of society. He took especial interest in the cause of Temperance, of which he was a strong supporter for more than 50 years. As a Guardian of the Pontypool Union, as a member of the Panteg Local Board and of the School Board, and in other public offices, he rendered valuable services to the community. Mr Williams was a native of Montgomeryshire. He was baptised in the year 1840 Glascoed, where he remained about 12 years; he then removed to Llangwm, and was also connected with the Church worshipping at Usk until he came to Pontypool. He resided at Typoth Farm for about 23 years. So respected was he that he was called upon to fill the office of Deacon in all the churches with which he was associated. He took a very active part in religious work, and often filled neighbouring pulpits”.

John’s 3rd Great Grandson, Darren Davies who kindly provided this information and the photograph added this information:

“John Edward’s wife, Eliza Evans, was the sister of Cornelius Evans who farmed at Glascoed Vach and is already on your site. I’ve attached a photo of Cornelius (you can see this on his page)

John Edward must have remained a member of Glascoed Baptist Chapel, even whilst residing in Gwernesney, until he moved to Pontymoile – On your site he is down as a subscriber, June 6th 1870. After Glascoed, the family briefly joined the Baptist chapel in Griffithstown before joining Crane Street in Pontypool. I’ve attached a transcription of John Edwards funeral from the Free Press. The dashes in some of the names were actually like that in the newspaper.”

Darren also mentioned:

“In the history of Glascoed chapel there is a possible reference to John Edward – ‘In 1850 it was agreed by church and minister that John Williams should exercise his talents for the ministry and on May 12 he commenced his public labour. Scrutiny of Pontypool Baptist College entrants over that period, does not reveal his name, therefore it is presumed that he remained a “lay preacher.” Was this the John Williams who lived at Upper Wern Hir and later moved to The Steppes Farm, Gwehelog?’

I’m not sure this can ever be proven, although John Edward was certainly strongly associated with the local Baptist movement and was a friend of Dr Edwards, Principle of the College when it was in Pontypool and when it moved to Cardiff. He was at John Edwards funeral.”