Welsh Journals

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QUAKER AND ANTI-QUAKER LITERATURE IN WELSH FROM THE RESTORATION TO METHODISM DURING the first Yearly Meeting of Welsh Friends held at Redstone, Pembrokeshire, in 1682, the need for translating Quaker literature into Welsh and disseminating it throughout the principality was mooted and agreed upon for the first time.1 The decision marked a watershed. Hitherto, save for brief lapses into the vernacular, all the Quaker literature distributed within Wales had been in the English language. Only in the writings of Morgan Llwyd, who never fully embraced Quakerism as a faith (he admitted that 'much, but not all, truth lay with them'),2 was full justice done to their tenets in the Welsh tongue. Llwyd's literary skills, however, attracted no disciples and it was left to ardent Welsh missionaries like Richard Davies of Cloddiau Cochion and John ap John of Ruabon to 'declare the Word of the Lord' by word of mouth. It is significant that practically all serious discussion of doctrinal issues in print was being carried out in English. Even the fierce literary controversy between Quakers and Baptists which reverberated through Radnorshire and adjacent counties between 1655 and 1670 was sustained throughout in English tracts, although several of the disputants and certainly a large majority of the hearers were fluent Welsh-speakers.3 In spite of the successes of the Welsh Renaissance scholars in the Tudor and early-Stuart periods, it is clear that there was still no guarantee that the Welsh language was universally accepted as an appropriate medium of intellectual discussion. In terms of patronage by the gentry, the Welsh language had most certainly lost ground by the Restoration period and, even at this advanced stage, there were many who were still not persuaded that it was a suitable medium for theological controversy or politico-legal protest. Thomas Williams, vicar of Llanrwst, was voicing a widespread anxiety when he claimed in 1691 that his mother tongue was bound in captivity *1 am grateful to Professor Glanmor Williams for reading, and commenting on, an earlier draft of this article. 1 Glamorgan County Record Office (hereinafter referred to as G.C.R.O.), D/DSF 2, p. 483. I J. H. Davies (ed.), Gweithiau Morgan Llwyd o Wynedd, Vol. 2 (1908), letter XV, pp. 268-69. For the literature involved, see J. H. Davies, 'Bibliography of Quaker Literature in the English Language relating to Wales', Journal of the Welsh Bibliographical Society, Vol. 1, no. 7 (1914), pp. 203-25, and Geoffrey F. Nuttall, The Welsh Saints, 1640-1660 (1957), pp. 57-61.