16 August 1812 Jane Nathaniel from Bardsey and Robert Williams,
Gegin Fawr, the tavern at Aberdaron were married. Sian Nathaniel was
a descendant of the old Nathaniel family on the island and Robert
was the son of William Evans (or William Bevan as he called himself
at one time) and Elizabeth (nee Turbridge). Sian was 24 years old
and Robert 18 at the time. He settled on the island where they
brought up their family at Hendy – two sons
and four daughters – William (1813),
Nathaniel (1815), Ellen (1818), Elizabeth (1821), Jane (1826) and
1812 there was a revival on the island, which influenced Robert. As
a result he began taking part in the services, interpreting the
scriptures and counselling in the prayer meetings. But after a
while something strange came over him and he turned his back on
religion and continued so for a time. During this time it is said
he lost a son (possibly William) and it was the means of his
returning to the fold. He was elected an elder and soon after
started counselling again and was accepted as a preacher and a
member of the Llyn and Eifionydd Presbytery when it met at Llithfaen.
It was on 10 August 1828 that he preached for the first time on
Bardsey and he held services, Sunday school and society meetings for
over forty years, often under quite difficult circumstances and with
very little support. The Reverend Henry Hughes, Bryncir, notes that
he preached with fervour during the revivals of 1849 and 1859,
sometimes with great rejoicing when Robert would “jump and leap with
joy and gladness”.
far as we know, he only received five pounds per annum from the Llyn
and Eifionydd Presbytery for his labour and he supplemented this by
preaching on the mainland. In addition he farmed eleven acres,
fished, worked for the lighthouse keepers and did any other
1874 the Presbytery felt he was getting old and to some degree
incapable, also the state of the church was very unsatisfactory.
The Reverend W.T. Jones was appointed a missionary on the island.
Robert Williams and the islanders gave him a warm and kind welcome.
On the morning of Sunday fourth April the following year (1875)
Robert Williams died following a short illness of three days. The
previous Sunday he had preached at the chapel. On the 8th
of April he was buried in the island cemetery in the same grave as
his wife Sian, who died in 1872.
is described as a “man of a kind temperament and strong disposition”
having “two large, strong hands, muscles like iron shackles and he
was not aware of any worry or fear. He kept his head in all dangers
and could fulfil any heavy work”. His personal appearance was
somewhat islandic and foreign.
There are several tales regarding his strength. It is said that
once a ram fell off a rock into the sea and he jumped in, got hold
of it and brought it ashore.
Another time, whilst going to his ship at Liverpool, carrying a bag
of salt on a saddle on his shoulders he fell between two ships and
he then swam ashore without the salt shifting from the saddle.
wonder, then, that his grandsons Thomas, Carreg Bach, and Harri,
Cristin Isaf, were prepared to face every challenge as recorded in
the stories The Purse and The Storm found elsewhere on
Although he was brought up in a tavern he was a zealous abstainer.
It is said that customers gave his father alcohol just to see him
berating his son. One Sunday evening he was preaching at Pencaerau
and condemning the drinking that would be at the fair in Aberdaron
on the morrow. On his way home on the day of the fair he called at
Gegin Fawr but was not made welcome, only thrown out onto the road.
People on the mainland regarded him as the bishop and, sometimes, as
the king of the island. There was no ground for this as the Cristin
family was in the royal lineage. But whilst preaching on temperance
at Betws-y-coed, Robert said that the king and queen in the country
where he lived had signed the pledge. To everyone’s
surprise, he explained that Bardsey was the country and that he and
Sian his wife were the king and queen!
One Sunday morning, when he was preaching at Pencaerau, the bailiff
was sitting in the congregation with a summons in his pocket to be
presented to Robert Williams, the island’s
representative for the Poor Law. Attempts had been made several
times previously to present it but he succeeded in avoiding them
every time. This time the bailiff intended to present it to him at
the end of the service but was persuaded that it would be wiser to
wait until the morning, rather than infringe on the sanctity of the
Sabbath. He would then have the opportunity whilst Robert was
returning to the island. By then Robert had gone into hiding until
the coast was clear.
Three of his children, Nathaniel, Ellen and Ann remained on the
island where they brought up their families. Elizabeth went to
Aberdaron, married Robert Evans from the parish of Llanengan, and
brought up their family in the village before moving to Plas
Minffordd and some of their descendants have gone to various parts
of England and Wales. As a young lad their eldest son, Robert, went
to live with his grandparents, Robert and Sian Williams, at Hendy,
Bardsey and settled there.
Jane went to Abersoch where she brought up her family; she suffered
a great bereavement in the death of her daughter and son-in-law at a
young age within two years of each other. Following her own death
two years later her eight-year-old granddaughter was left an orphan.
Nathaniel married Mary Williams from Aberdaron and settled at Carreg
Bach. They had two sons and a daughter. Robert, their eldest died
at sea, Thomas stayed and worked at home. Jane was off the island
for a time. There is a picture of her on old postcards standing in
front of Carreg Bach, which is described as Miss Jane Williams’
Ellen married a neighbour, Evan Williams, Cristin, and had two sons
and a daughter – Harri, William and Mari.
The three remained unmarried and lived at the family home, Cristin
Isaf. After Mari injured her leg, probably fractured it, the
brothers told the doctor that she had become too old to go to much
expense on her! Harri died suddenly one day “having had a clean
shirt and a boiled egg for breakfast” according to Mari. William
carried coal from the Cafn and always wore a gold watch chain.
William and Mari remained on the island until 1925, when most of the
old families left the island. Their living conditions had
deteriorated and they went to live at Tremnant, Aberdaron. This was
the first time Mari had left the island in 25 years and she died
soon after in 1926. William then went to live with his cousin,
Jane, at Hendre Bach, Rhosfawr, until his death in 1929. A report
in the Herald Cymraeg mentions he was an interesting
companion, enjoyed reminiscing about Bardsey. The day of his
funeral at Aberdaron was very wet and stormy.
Ann married Rees Griffith, a master mariner of Brynmawr, Anelog, and
they made their home at Hendy with Robert Williams. Three children
were born to them, Ruth, William and Jane. Ruth settled in
Abersoch, married John Henry Jones, ran a shop and brought up a
family. William did not marry until after his mother died in 1910.
His wife was Jane
Jones, Gladstone, Aberdaron. William was not happy because of the
difficulties in obtaining a doctor to attend to his sick mother and
he, his wife Jane and cousin Robert decided to leave the island
around 1912 and move to Abersoch where they lived the rest of their
is likely that Jane, the youngest, was regarded as being a
“spinster” as she was over 30 years old and unmarried. However,
cupid arrived unexpectedly one day. Edward Owen of Llanbedrog went
across to visit family and William Roberts, Hendre Bach, Rhosfawr
went with him. When they arrived at Aberdaron the farmer of Plas
Bach was very angry because the joiners who were to erect his hay
shed were blind drunk at Aberdaron. But William placated him by
saying the two of them were joiners and if they were given suitable
clothes and tools they would build the hay shed for him. They were
there for three weeks and by the end William had found love and
eventually he and Jane, Hendy, were going to get married. But the
courtship was not easy. Jane’s family was
Calvinistic Methodists and William’s family
Baptists and, as a result, there was strong opposition from both
families. But it is said there was more opposition from Jane’s
mother Ann (her father had already died). Jane greatly offended her
mother and probably this was reflected in her inheritance. However,
William and Jane got married at Bwlch Chapel, Llanengan on 9
September 1903. A few days after the wedding Jane went back to
Bardsey and William went to the Baptist Union meeting at Liverpool.
Jane lived on the island for about three years after her marriage
before moving to Hendre Bach before the birth of her eldest son Rhys
(the birth was registered as Rees). By this time her mother-in-law
had died and she bore the responsibility of running the home. Jane
joined the Baptists and
you could easily say that she become more of a Baptist than her
husband! Another son, William Nathaniel, was born while her mother
was still alive but there is no mention that she returned to the
island until her mother’s death in 1910. A
telegram came to the post office at Fourcrosses informing her of her
death and a boat was arranged to come and meet her at Ffynnon Fair
to take her over to the island. She returned there again to assist
William and Mari to move to the mainland. By this time she had
another son around twelve years old, Robert William (Bob) who
remembered going there with her to clear up.
But Jane, my grandmother, never forgot her roots; because, hanging
on the wall opposite to where she used to sit at the table to eat
and sew there was a large aerial photograph of the island, which was
noticeable when one entered the room.