Tomorrow is Halloween – the eve of All Hallows’ or All Saints’ Day. It is also the anniversary of what is regarded as the start of the Protestant Reformation – the appearance of Matrin Luther’s 95 theses. This year is special – it is the 500th anniversary of the event.
So it is an ideal time to draw attention to one of the Library’s more fascinating collections. Edmund Jones (1702-93) of Pontnewydd near Pontypool was popularly known as Yr Hen Broffwyd (the Old Prophet) and his library of books is the most interesting if not the only chapel library of such rarity to have survived in Wales. It comprises 80 volumes of Welsh and English Protestant sermons and theological writings, mainly from the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, almost all of which have been marked by Edmund Jones. Some have detailed notes, such as his opinion on the contents of the volume and from whom he received it; in two of the books he wrote inside that they were given to him by John Wesley. The books have all been catalogued by myself, and are therefore available for users to read and research the impact that these early Protestant sermons had on Jones and the Welsh public.
Edmund Jones was deeply interested in the new Methodist movement in Wales in the 18th century pioneered by men such as Howell Harris, Daniel Rowland and William Williams, Pantycelyn, (whose birth was celebrated this year and noted in this blog a couple of weeks ago). His form of Christianity was more experiential and heartfelt than the cerebral form which was still favoured by many in the established Anglican Church at the time. He professed a belief in spiritualism and apparitions which may have been derived from the new ideas spreading at the time. His reputation in this regard rests on his alias of The Old Prophet and a book which he wrote entitled Relations of Apparitions in Wales. This contains accounts of alleged supernatural occurrences in Wales, which Jones attested to. Can you, the reader, find any evidence in some of the notes seen in his books (see images above) to confirm some of his strange beliefs?