Edwards, Henry Thomas (DNB00)

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EDWARDS, HENRY THOMAS (1837–1884), dean of Bangor, son of the Rev. William Edwards, vicar of Llangollen, who died in 1868, was born at Llanymawddwy, Merionethshire, 6 Sept. 1837, and educated at Westminster, where he was a Welsh 'Bishop's Boy' holding the Williams exhibition. He left Westminster in his seventeenth year with the intention of proceeding to India, but, changing his mind, studied for twelve months under the Rev. F. E. Gretton at Stamford, and then entered himself at Jesus College, Oxford. He graduated B. A. in 1860, and in the following year became curate at Llangollen to his father, who being an invalid left almost sole charge of the parish to his son. He restored the church at an expense of 3,000l. , and the number of the Welsh congregation was nearly trebled during the time of his ministration. In 1866 he was appointed to the vicarage of Aberdare, where, during his residence of three years, he caused a new church to be built at Cwmamman. The Bishop of Chester presented him to the important vicarage of Carnarvon in 1869. While there he organised a series of public meetings to protest against the exclusion of religious education from primary schools. The speeches were delivered in the Welsh language. In the same year (1869) Edwards had a long controversy in 'Y Goleuad' with a Calvinistic methodist minister on the subject of church unity. Upon the death of the Rev. James Vincent he was promoted to the deanery of Bangor, March 1876, when only thirty-nine.

He amply justified his appointment; took a foremost part in all movements tending to the welfare of the church, and especiallv promoted the work of the Bangor Clerical Education Society, the object of which was to supply the diocese with a body of educated clergyable to minister efficiently in the Welsh language, spoken by more than three-fourths of the people. In the work of the restoration of Bangor Cathedral he showed much energy, and in a short time raised 7,000l., towards which sum he himself very liberally contributed. Among his publications that which excited the most attention was a letter entitled 'The Church of the Cymry,' addressed to Mr. W. E. Gladstone in January 1870, in which he accounted for the alienation of the great majority of the Welsh people from the established church. His name will probably be remembered for his onslaught on the tea-drinking habits of modern society, which he held to be the cause of 'the general physical deterioration of the inhabitants of these islands.' In 1883 he suffered from sleeplessness and nervousness, and was greatly depressed in spirits. He consequently went for a long cruise in the Mediterranean, but with little benefit to his health. In May 1884 he was staying with his brother, the Rev. Ebenezer Wood Edwards, at Ruabon Vicarage. He committed suicide on 24 May 1884, and was buried at Glenadda cemetery on 28 May.

He was the author of the following works: 1. 'Eight Days in the Camp, a sermon,' 1865. 2. 'The Victorious Life, sermons,' 1869; 3. 'The Church of the Cymry, a letter to the Right Hon. W. E. Gladstone,' 1870. 4. 'Cymru dan felldith Babel,' 1871. 5. 'The Babel of the Sects and the Unity of the Pentecost,' 1872. 6. 'The Position and Resources of the National Church,' 1872. 7. 'Amddiffynrdd yr Eglwys,' editor and chief contributor H. T. Edwards, 1873-5. 8. 'The Exile and the Return, sermons,' 1875. 9. 'Why are the Welsh People alienated from the Church? a sermon,' 1879. 10. 'The Past and Present condition of the Church in Wales,' 1879. 11. 'Esponiad i'r pregethwr a'r athraw. Yr Efengylyn ol Sant Matthew. GydaSylwadau a mwy dau gant o draethodau pregethol gan H. T. Edwards.' 1882.

[Church Portrait Journal, August 1879, pp. 71-3, with portrait; Mackeson's Church Congress Handbook (1877), pp. 76-7; Times, 26 May 1884, p. 9, 29 May, p. 6, and 11 June, p. 10; Illustrated London News, 31 May 1884, pp. 520, 523, with portrait; Guardian, 4 June 1884, p. 828.]

G. C. B.