Griffith Jones, Llanddowror 
(1683 - 1761)

Griffith Jones was a priest in the Carmathenshire village of Llanddowror and is remembered for establishing the first "church" schools in Wales. He was born in Pant-yr-efail in the village of Penboyr, Carmathenshire. Little is known of his early life, but we know that Griffith Jones was drawn to the ministry. He became a curate in Glynrhedyn and Talacharn before being made vicar of Llandeilo. He served the parish for five years before moving to be the rector in the parish of Llanddowror in 1716.When Griffith Jones arrived in Llanddowror, he soon discovered that very few of his parishioners were able to read and couldn't understand his sermons.

Griffiths Jones

As a result, Griffith Jones embarked on a campaign to educate the people of his parish. He used the church as a base for this purpose and was very successful in making the villagers literate. Other parishes in the country heard of this initiative and wanted to establish a similar initiative in their parishes. However, educated priests such as Griffith Jones were few and far between and he decided to overcome these difficulties in an innovative way. He decided to teach the villagers of Llanddowror to read. They in turn became teachers and were sent to parts of Wales to teach the people to read. 

They would stay in an area for up to three months until someone in that area became proficient enough to take over the role of teacher in the "school". They would then move on to another area to start the work again. These "teachers" would be paid for their work from money collected by Griffith Jones.Soon, many rich landowners contributed to this endowment fund, none greater than Madam Bevan, who carried on the work after Griffith Jones died in 1761. She continued Griffith Jones' work until her death in 1779.

 A page from Salmau Can Edmund Prys which Griffiths Jones used to teach his parishioners to read.

Madam Bevan

Llanddowror Parish Church, where Griffith Jones was Rector and established his "schools"

Griffith Jones' home in Pen-byor.


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