Peter Williams and Llandyfaelog village, near Kidwelly
Llandyfaelog means ‘church of St Tyfaelog’: llan open land; land enclosed to safeguard produce and belongings; or consecrated ground, church. The personal name has two elements: the honorific ty- and the personal name Maelog, which appeared in the Life of Gildas (written in the 6th century).
Llandyfaelog is the final resting place of Rev Peter Williams (1723-1796), famed for producing a version of the Bible which ordinary people could afford. Homes throughout Wales had one.
As a young man Peter was a teacher, including in Carmarthenshire’s Circulating Charity Schools. He continued in this role in nearby Bancycapel and in Llandyfaelog vestry, now renovated by the present owner. Peter was ordained a deacon but after being dismissed from three curacies for his “enthusiasm”, he became a travelling Methodist preacher from 1746.
When not travelling, Peter lodged at Pibwr-lwyd, Carmarthen, with David Bowen, whose grandson Thomas Charles was to become a highly influential Methodist leader. Peter marred Mary Jenkins in 1748 and the couple rented Moelfre, near Camarthen, but were turned out when the owner learnt of Peter's Methodism. They returned to Pibwr-lwyd before renting Gellilednais, near Llandyfaelog, c.1760, a farm leased by Mary’s father and which Peter farmed and improved.
He later acquired Woodbine Cottage (shown in the old drawing) and installed a pulpit there, to create the village’s first Methodist meeting house. It’s said that he met churchgoers in the churchyard after Sunday morning service and invited them to his meetings. Woodbine eventually became the location of the village’s last Post Office, 1970s-1980s.
As more worshippers attended, he established the village’s first Methodist chapel in 1780. Rebuilt in 1844, the chapel closed for worship in 1981. Within the parish of Llandyfaelog, the vicar also allowed Peter Williams to use the old chapel of ease at Llangynheiddon, Bancycapel, as a meeting house – today the site of Bancycapel Methodist Chapel.
Despite greatly advancing the Methodist cause, Peter was excommunicated from it after a dispute over one aspect of his interpretation of the bible. He returned to Llandyfaelog for his final days and is buried in St Maelog’s churchyard.
With thanks to Peter Stopp, of the Carmarthenshire Antiquarian Society
Postcode: SA17 5PP View Location Map