Lewis Evan

By Roy H. Lloyd.
Copyright 1998 by Roy H. Lloyd. Used by permission.

In the late summer of 1992 celebrations were held at a place called Adfa, in the County of Montgomeryshire, Wales, UK, commemorating the 250th anniversary of the opening of its Calvinistic Methodist chapel (now Presbyterian Church of Wales).

The chief character of the celebrations was a man named Lewis Evan. He was quite an ordinary person really, but if his work was special at all, it was because God gave him the strength to do it for Him.

Lewis Evan was born in Trefeglwys, Montgomeryshire. The family name was Lewis; his father being Evan Lewis. The baptismal records of the Parish of Trefeglwys show that Lewis Evan was baptised 18 February 1719/20. The double date is the result of the change over from the Julian to the Gregorian calender. He had three brothers, James, David and Richard, and two sisters, Dorothy and Anne.

When Lewis Evan was quite young he came to live with his grandparents at Crugnant, Llanllugan, Montgomeryshire. In those days Crugnant was a woollen mill and Lewis Evan learned to become a shuttle weaver. He has been described as a short man, quick and light in his step or walk.

On November 4, 1738, he went on a visit to Trefeglwys and to Ffridd farm. There, for the first time, he heard a man, named Howell Harris, preaching. When he came home that night Lewis was a changed person.

When the circulating schools of Griffith Jones of Llanddowror first came to that area of North Wales, Lewis Evan joined them and learned to read. Their reading book was the Bible - in Welsh, of course. He began to encourage others to read their Bible too and helped teach them to do so. In time, he had formed a reading group which became a Methodist cell.

Before very long Lewis Evan was given the task of helping to organise the work of the Methodists in North Wales. His job title was that of ‘Counsellor’ - he was third in line from the man who was in charge of the whole of Montgomeryshire and Radnorshire. Lewis Evan was the first Methodist Counsellor in North Wales and he remained a Counsellor for over 50 years. He had always been known for his ability to talk - and now his job gave him the chance to prove he could talk for God.

Over the years Lewis Evan carried on his public preaching ministry travelling as far as Anglesey and Caernarvon. Sometimes he was thrown into prison - at Dolgellau for instance. He experienced many troubles. People came to mock him and disturb his meetings. Others beat him up - either in fun or because someone had paid them to do so. But he came through it all with a good heart.

Lewis Evan lived to see the fruits of his labours when a new new chapel was built at Adfa for the Calvinistic Methodists - who had, till then, been worshipping in buildings in local farms - such as Llwyncoppa. He died on September 5, 1792 and was buried in Llanllugan churchyard. Unfortunately, nothing remains of his grave except for a section of gravestone discovered in a hedge by some workmen.

A striking memorial was raised to Lewis Evan outside Adfa Chapel by his nephew, John Lewis (the son of Richard), Felin Uchaf (Upper Mill), and this still stands today.

The chapel suffered some storm damage in the summer of 1995 and was closed. Since then the building has been completely restored and was reopened for worship on 1st November 1997. An opening ceremony was performed attended by the Moderator of the Presbyterian Church of Wales and ministers associated with the chapel, past and present, and other dignitaries. Two of the younger members of the congregation performed the task of opening the two entrance doors by being presented with the keys. Because of his family connection with Lewis Evan, the writer of this article was given the honour of unveiling a wall plaque dedicating the chapel to the memory of Lewis Evan. The chapel is now called the LEWIS EVAN MEMORIAL CHAPEL. The dedication on the plaque is written in Welsh and reads:

Adeiladwyd - 1790
Estynwyd - 1820
Atgyweiriwyd - 1997

The cost of restoring the chapel was met by donations from members of the congregation, relatives and friends; a grant was received from CADW which is a government agency concerned with the maintenance and care of Welsh historic buildings.

The writer thanks the Minister and Elders of the Lewis Evan Memorial Chapel for permission to use certain material from the handbook published on the occasion of the 250th anniversary celebrations of the chapel in 1992.

Copyright 1998 by Roy H. Lloyd. E-mail: Roy H. Lloyd

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