THE REV. JOHN GRIFFITH AND THE REVIVAL OF THE ESTABLISHED CHURCH IN NINETEENTH-CENTURY GLAMORGAN by WILTON D. WILLS FEW religious leaders in the last century were more actively involved in the religious and social life of Wales or provoked more heated controversy than the Rev. John Griffith, vicar of Aberdare between 1847 and 1859 and rector of Merthyr Tydfil from 1859 until his death in 1885. His long and turbulent pastorate spanned the most formative years in the history of Glamorgan and was associated with that part of the county in which not only the industrial but also the political and religious life of modern Wales was forged.1 The interesting feature of his life was his gradual abandonment of the strong Tory sympathies which he had expressed as the young and inexperienced vicar of Aberdare in 1847. John Griffith grew with his parish into a dedicated evangelical and involved himself completely and professionally in the evangelical crusades in the south Wales coalfield in the 1850's and 1860's: in so doing he became estranged from the Tory establishment who con- trolled county and Church affairs and from the ironmasters and coal-owners who controlled the county's economic life. John Griffith is perhaps more representative of the evangelical movement in Glamorgan than any other Anglican clergyman. Inspired in the 1840's by fear of the county social order for its survival this was a movement which attempted to revive and extend the agencies of the established Church for social and political reasons but which also 1 See especially books and articles by Mr. Ieuan Gwynedd Jones, Dr. Kenneth O. Morgan and Dr. Gwyn A. Williams. Merthyr and Aberdare was the focal point of the growth of political Nonconformity and Liberalism in Wales in the 1860's and of the labour and trade union movement in the 1880's and 1890's.