Hughes, Joshua (DNB00)

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HUGHES, JOSHUA (1807–1889), bishop of St. Asaph, son of C. Hughes, esq., of Newport, Pembrokeshire, was born at Nevern, Pembrokeshire, in 1807. He was educated at Ystradmeurig grammar school, and at St. David's College, Lampeter; at both `his performances gave promise of future distinction. With two brothers, Hughes took orders in the church of England, being ordained deacon in 1830, and priest in 1831. His first curacy was at Aberystwith, whence he passed to St. David's, Carmarthen, and to Abergwilly. At Abergwilly he first enjoyed the intimacy of Bishop Thirlwall, whose influence left its mark upon his character. At Abergwilly Hughes worked with conspicuous zeal until 1846, when he was presented to the vicarage of Llandovery. For the twenty-four years of his residence there Hughes was one of the most laborious of Welsh clergy. He thought little of riding twenty-five miles on Sunday in order to conduct four services in his parish. His bishop made him rural dean, and his fellow clergy sent him to convocation. In 1870 Mr. Gladstone, at the suggestion, it is said, of Dr. Thirlwall, offered the vacant bishopric of St. Asaph to the Welsh-speaking vicar of Llandovery. The appointment was criticised somewhat adversely because Hughes was not a university man, was practically unknown outside the Principality, and had had exclusively parochial experience. Events justified the choice. Hughes (who was made D.D. by the Archbishop of Canterbury) administered his diocese with vigour and impartiality. Exacting a high standard from candidates for holy orders, and strenuously upholding the prerogatives of the church, he still cultivated friendly relations with nonconformity. He favoured all reasonable measures of church reform; laboured hard to secure Welsh-speaking clergy for Welsh and bi-lingual parishes; promoted the provision of services in Welsh for Welsh residents in English towns; and was one of the first as well as warmest supporters of the movement for promoting higher education in Wales. In August 1888 Hughes was struck with paralysis while at Crieff in Perthshire. He never rallied, and died there on 21 Jan. 1889. Hughes married in 1832 Margaret, daughter of Sir Thomas McKenny, and widow of Captain Gun, by whom he had three sons and five daughters.

Hughes was the author of several charges, sermons, and pamphlets. One of the latter, on 'The University of Brecknock' (n.d.? 1856, and signed `Veritas'), was much discussed.

[Record, 25 Jan. 1889; North Wales Guardian, 26 Jan. 1889; Montgomeryshire Express, 29 Jan. 1889; information from the Rev. J. Pritchard Hughes.]

A. R. B.