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'HORRID UNINTELLIGIBLE JARGON': THE CASE OF DR. THOMAS BOWLES IN a letter to Edward Samuel in October 1736, Lewis Morris-Llewelyn Ddu o Fôn-bemoaned the fact that his native county was seldom favoured by clerical controversies. The most waspish critic of his generation, Morris thrived on controversy and strife, and members of the established church had good cause to despise his caustic manner and lethal turn of phrase. 'Any body that hath Eyes', he once wrote, 'may see that their [i.e. bishops and clergymen] business is F.ing ye poor Laity out of their money. Morris would have been mortified, therefore, had he known that his own death in April 1765 would rob him-by the margin of a year-of the opportunity of exercising his natural pugnacity and manipulative skills when Anglesey was rocked by a clerical scandal known as 'the Bowles affair'. In April 1766, Dr. John Egerton, bishop of Bangor, appointed Dr. Thomas Bowles, a rotund, English-speaking septuagenarian, to serve as rector of Trefdraeth and Llangwyfan, two parishes in south-west Anglesey where the overwhelming majority of inhabitants were able to speak and understand Welsh only.3 Over the following seven years, Bowles's presence in north Wales gave rise to heated debates, numerous pamphlets, essays and poems, and a protracted court case. Public outrage matched local anger, and prior to the celebrated Homersham Cox affair in 1871,4 it is hard to think of a case involving the interests of the Welsh language which provoked such indignation and fury. The Bowles case merits serious attention since it sheds light on the condition of the Welsh language, the strength of popular Anglicanism, and the threat to community values in the mid-eighteenth century. Thomas Bowles hailed from Wiltshire and was the eldest of eight children born to Matthew and Anne Bowles. He was born on 1 January 1695. His father was a native of Corfe Castle in Dorset and served as rector of Donhead St. Andrew in Wiltshire from 1683 until his death, at the age of ninety, in 1742.5 Thomas Bowles was a solemn, bookish young man who was happy 1 H. Owen (ed.), Additional Letters of the Morrises of Anglesey (1735-86), part 1 (London, 1947), p. 47. 2 University College of North Wales (henceforth U.C.N.W.), Bangor (Mostyn) 7606. 3 National Library of Wales (henceforth N.L.W.), Records of the Church in Wales, Bangor Episcopal Registers B/P/13; B/BR/4. 4 H. T. Edwards, Codi'r Hen Wlad yn ei Hoi, 1850-1914 (Llandysul, 1989), pp. 173-86. S Wiltshire County Record Office, Salisbury Diocesan Archives, Donhead St. Andrew P.R.1732; Sir Richard Colt Hoare (ed.), The History of Modern Wiltshire (6 vols., 1822-4), IV, 50-54; J. Foster, Alumni Oxonienses, 1500-1714 (vols. 1-2, 1891), pp. 160-61.