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A HISTORY OF HANOVER Chapel, LLANOVER INCLUDING A BRIEF HISTORY OF ROBERT JERMAIN THOMAS, THE KOREAN MISSIONARY by Herbert Hughes Puritanism and Early Nonconformity entered Wales largely through the border counties and this was particularly true of Monmouthshire. The first Independent (or Congregational) church in the country was established at Llanfaches in 1639 and the earliest Baptist church at Olchon in 1633. (The latter is technically in Herefordshire but was at this time within the Diocese of St David's and the language of the district would have been Welsh, as indeed was the case in large tracts of the English county as well as the whole of Gwent at the time.) Leaders of the calibre of William Wroth, Walter Cradoc, Morgan Llwyd and Vavasor Powell were all men of the border. Cradoc was, in fact, born in Llangwm in Gwent and worked in Wrexham and Shrewsbury among other places; Wroth was a native of Abergavenny and Powell was born in Heyop in Radnorshire. They all laboured at a time of great political and religious ferment when new ideas about church and state were pursued with fervour and dedication, with not a little harassment by the authorities. The Marches and a few protective squires became havens of escape in difficult times. The membership of Llanfaches church was drawn from a wide area but soon after its formation it branched out into diverse districts where new churches were established. Included in this pattern were churches at Pen-maen (Mynydd Islwyn), Usk, Llantrisant, Llangwm, Llangybi, Abergavenny and Newport. By the end of the nineteenth century there were at least sixty-five churches of the Independent Welsh language persuasion established in Monmouthshire and included among the earliest was the church at Llanofer which was formed in 1644. We must not at this stage think of chapel buildings but of congregations meeting in private homes or in the Long Rooms of taverns; nor must we distinguish too clearly between Baptists and Independents since they often worshipped as one congregation: the divisions would appear later. Sometime between 1662 and 1667 a Mr William Thomas who was a member of the other early Baptist cause in Wales at Ilston in Gower married the daughter of Mr George Morgan, Llantrisant, one of the members of the congregation which met in the district of Llahofer. He seems to have been the leading minister until his death in 1671 but by 1672