Welsh Journals

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Catholicism in Wales in the Eighteenth Century + Daniel J Mullins A lecture given at the Reception launching volume I of this Journal In the first issue of this Journal, Father T G Holt, quoting Philip Jenkins, writes: 'In 1773 there were only nine priests in all Wales and 750 Catholics 475 of them in Monmouthshire, which county was the one exception in the story of the decline of Welsh Catholicism. It is certainly true that Catholicism in Wales reached its lowest point in the eighteenth century and that the Methodist revival caused consid- erable concern to those who tried to guide and maintain the scattered Catholic communities of those difficult days. The purpose of this short paper is to examine, however briefly, Father Holt's statement and the evidence that is available. Although Father Gregory Powell (Dewi Nantbran) was concerned about the effect of the Methodist revival on his Catholic flock, the problem was not all one-sided. The only one of Howell Harris's children to outlive him was his daughter, Elizabeth. On 10 May 1782 she became the second wife of Charles Prichard, a papist doctor in Brecon. 1 The Journal of Welsh Ecclesiastical History, I (1984) p 12. 2 An illustration of this concern is forcibly expressed in the introduction to Sail yr Athrawiaeth Gatholig, (London, 1764), by Fr Gregory Powell, parish priest of Abergavenny. 3 cf R T Jenkins, Yng Nghysgod Trefeca, (Caernarfon, 1968), p 147.