The Ruthin Quakers. By A. Grace Roberts. rl' HE Quaker message was carried to Ruthin in 1826 by Joseph Jones, a native of the 1 Vale of Clwyd and a grandson of Jonathan Hughes, the bard of Llan- gollen," mentioned with admiration by Borrow in Wild Wales." At an early age Joseph was apprenticed to the printing trade, and later was employed by the printing firm of Harvey and Dalton, of London, who were well-known mem- bers of the Society of Friends. Here he became acquainted with the famous philanthropist, Peter Bedford, of Spitalfields, under whose influence he was converted to the Quaker faith. John Jones, a brother of Joseph Jones, had enlisted in the Royal Marines at the age of six- teen, and in 1826, for the first time after an ab- sence of ten years, the brothers met at their home in Ruthin. In spite of a fine military record, John was soon ardently impressed by Joseph's convictions, with the result that he felt that all war was in- compatible with the teaching of Christ, and that his conscience would no longer suffer him to bear arms. There were, however, great diffi- culties in being released from military service ultimately by paying a fine of one hundred pounds and finding two substitutes he was set free. John Jones then settled down as a tradesman in his native town of Ruthin, and later was re- ceived into the Society of Friends. With the zeal of a convert, he threw himself into the task of reviving Quakerism in the Vale of Clwyd. A meeting-house was acquired, and the movement gradually increased in strength. It was, how- ever, in great disfavour in the reactionary and feudal atmosphere of an ancient town like Ruthin this feeling increased when the Quakers, following the traditions of those harried and persecuted members of their sect, who emigrated with William Penn, refused to pay the church rate. Among the Ruthin Church records we find that by an order of Vestry held in St. Peter's Church, Ruthin, on the twenty- third day of February, 1737, an assessment of ninepence in the pound of church mise be im- posed upon the inhabitants and land holders of the said parish for and towards the repairs of the said church." With a courage worthy of their predecessors, the Ruthin Quakers resisted this imposition. The only article of any value which they possessed as a religious body was an old clock which ticked away in the silences of the humble little meeting-house. The clock was duly seized and put up for sale, but was bid for and purchased by the admirers of John Jones and his followers, and returned to the Friends. This became an annual proceeding, until the time when the meeting-house was given up. After a time, John Jones realised the futility of endeavouring to further the interests of the cause so near his heart, unless at the same time his disciples could be taught to read the Scrip- tures in Welsh. For this purpose he opened a Sunday School, which considerably strengthened the influence of the movement in Ruthin and the neighbouring districts, but unfortunatel) it was discontinued. William Jones, the son of John Jones, writes somewhat wistfully One would naturally have expected that his brethren in the faith would have given my father every encour- agement in this work, but such was not the case." At that time English Friends did not regard the Sunday School movement with favour, and intimations were given to the Ruthin Quakers that their labours could not be regarded as consistent with the principles of the Friends, but only as creaturely activity." There is no reason to doubt that if this action had not been taken, Quakerism might have held its ground in the Vale of Clwyd to the present day. However, in spite of discouragement, the little band nobly persisted in its efforts it was tem- porarily reinforced by a small number of converts from the neighbouring town of Denbigh, but, as the years rolled by, its strength gradually waned, and at last the meeting-house was given up. The meetings were afterwards held in John Jones' house one by one the members dropped off, until the gatherings were composed almost exclusively of the family. One old man, how- ever, William Williams, a nailmaker by trade, walked from Denbigh, a distance of eight miles, every Sabbath to join in the little gatherings. The six children of John Jones were brought up in the Quaker faith, and, though often sad- dened and depressed by what he deemed to be the failure of his life's work, he was greatly cheered in his old age by the records of his sons who carried the message to all parts of the world. The day before his death he was greatly touched by a poignant message from his son, Jonathan Hughes Jones, who had emigrated to Australia, and who also lay dying. Tell father," so ran the message, that before I died, I wished him to know that I was very thankful that I was brought up as a member of the Society of Friends, and that I considered his yielding to God in his youth had been greatly blessed both to him and to his family. This is the last message from his affectionate son, who died in the full assurance of forgiveness, through the atonement made by Jesus Christ our Saviour." Another of the sons of John Jones, William Jones, who, strangely enough, was born in the year the Quaker movement was initiated in Ruthin, acted as the Commissioner of the Friends' Relief Fund during the Franco-German War, and later became the successor to Henry Richard as Secretary of the Peace Movement.