"Diary from Bardsey"

Extracts from the diary of William Thomas and William Jones, Missionaries to the Island (Bardsey). 1875 – 1898.


January 7.

I William Thomas Jones, Ceunant came today to Bardsey in the company of Capt Harry Williams, Rhydlios, to undertake the position of Missionary to the island. I had a warm and joyous welcome by all the islanders amongst whom was the Rev Robert Williams.

January 18.

I kept society with the children for the first time in many years on the island. I will never forget the joy of seeing the children and the pleasure of the society. And I believe I also felt the presence of Jesus amongst us today.

April 4.

Mr Evan John Williams, Cristin Isaf died today aged 64. He was buried in Bardsey cemetery on April 5th.

April 4.

The Rev Robert Williams, Hendy, died today aged 81. He was buried in Bardsey cemetery on April 8th. He had been preaching with the Calvanistic Methodists for over 40 years.

May 21.

The Honourable Lord Newborough, Mr Wynn and his son De Winton came to the island today and stayed until the 23rd of May.


£18/10/0 was collected throughout the year for various things. It has been a successful year on the whole both in seasonal and religious terms. The produce of the island and the health of the islanders has been commendable and the presence of the Lord strongly felt bringing his lambs to the fold. Eleven new members.



April 4.

Buried Bridget Jones, Tyn Llan, Aberdaron, aged 59, on Bardsey.

July 20.

The Honourable Lord Newborough came to the island and left on the 22nd.

July 30 and August 1.

The new chapel erected by the Honourable Lord Newborough for the benefit of the island, was opened today. An excellent opening ceremony was had. The following ministers attended the opening service, Mr Robert Rowlands Porthmadog and the Reverends Capt H Hughes, Gellidara, Thomas Owens, Porthmadog, Francis Jones, Waenfawr, Peter Jones, Penygroes. All the islanders attended. O Morris Williams, Nant was unanimously elected deacon. The Sacrament of the Lords Supper took place for the first time. Griffith Ty Pella came to the society.

September 7.

The Honourable Lord Newborough, Mr and Mrs Wynn came to the island today and left on the 9th.

September 10.

Samuel Elliot Rambridge the son of Mr Samuel and Mrs Sarah Rambridge, The lighthouse, was christened today.

October 3.

The men of Bardsey rescue the hands of the ship ‘Leah’ they were four in number. The ship was completely wrecked on the rocks.

October 19.

William Hughes the son of Mr Hugh and Mrs Margaret Hughes, Dyno Goch, was christened today. The sacrament of the Lords supper was officiated today for the second time on the island.


£20/12/4d was collected throughout the year. The Lord’s grace fell upon us yet again this year. Mr and Mrs Rowlands presented the chapel with beautiful communion vessels.



January 20.

I received a book titled ‘The Holy Isle’ from the Honourable Lord Newborough.

February 18.

The sacrament of the Lords supper was officiated this evening.

April 1.

John Jones, the son of Samuel and Catherine Jones was christened.

May 5.

Mr and Mrs Williams The Foundry, Porthmadog gift a christening cup to the chapel.

May 22.

The following persons paid a visit to the island today regarding the poor law rate Mr T Lloyd Murray Brown and Mr Walter Browne, local government board, London.

June 14.

RT Pritchard Esq, Ty Newydd, Fourcrosses donates a Welsh and an English Bible to the chapel, as well a hymn book to be used from the pulpit.

June 24.

The Rev John R Jones, Pencaerau and his wife spent Sunday on the island. Rev Jones preached three times, doing so in English in the evening.

July 1

The Rev Robert Evans Dynfra (late of Caernarvon) preached three times this Sunday.

July 29.

Rev Capt Hughes, Gellidara, preached three times on Sunday and also on Monday evening. During his services Ann Williams, Plas Bach, came to the society.

August 5.

Rev W Dickens Lewys MA preached, he also gave a lecture on the Bible.

August 15.

Rev DE Davies was here and his friend Mr William Thomas, Bangor gave a lecture.

August 21.

Two Wesleyan ministers are here today. They are Mr Evans, Pen y Groes, Llandegai and Mr Jones Pwllheli. Their guide was Mr John Jones, Siop, Aberdaron. We held three services at 10, 2 and 6.

September 10.

Charles Wynn esq Rhug, Corwen, his wife Mrs Wynn and their party visit the island. After looking round the chapel Mr Wynn donated 10/-.

October 14

Communion Sunday.

December 10 – 14.

We spent every evening this week, apart from Saturday, holding prayer meetings, everyone who could, attended and they felt a definite presence of the Lord in our midst.

December 15.

A shipwreck at Trwyn y Fonwent, close to the Cafn, the islands harbour. The vessel struck the rocks at midnight. The two men onboard namely Capt Thomas Jones, Amlwch and Isaac Collins of Holyhead managed to get ashore safely and were kindly given hospitality at his home by Mr Griffith Pritchard, Ty Pella.

December 23.

Communion Service.

We can testify at the end of this year that the Lord has been gracious towards us in keeping us safe from disease and other damaging things, yea we didn’t dig a grave for any soul this year either from the church or the rest of the island society. We should Praise the Lord indeed for his goodness to the son of man. We pray that his Word amongst us will continue to strengthen and save many. His Holy Spirit shines upon us perpetual and in that we shall be saved.



January 31.

Griffith Ty Pella is seriously ill.


Griffith Ty Pella’s illness causes concern amongst the islanders.

April 21.

Easter Sunday. We spent this Sunday a little different from the usual.

April 22.

Many boats arrive from Aberdaron along with lots of visitors to the island.

April 27.

Signed a petition against selling alcoholic drinks on the Lords day.

May 10.

Capt W Thomas, Bodlondeb, Morfa Nefyn and others pay a visit to the island. They pay the islanders for looking after the inscription slate of the ‘Friends’ that was wrecked on the island.

May 30.

The ship ‘Fairy’ from Caernarvon laden with passengers visits the island, but there are less than usual on board.

June 16.

The Rev David Jones, Ty Mawr, preaches this Sunday – he is given 19/4d for his services.

June 30.

The Rev H Hughes, Bryn Engan is this Sunday’s preacher.

July 2 and 3.

Preaching Festival, the following ministers take part.

Rev Robert Hughes, Uwchlaw’r Ffynnon.

Rev David Williams, Tremadog.

Rev TR Williams Pentre Uchaf.

Rev Robert Williams Rhosfawr.

Rev Robert Williams Nant.

July 7

The Rev John Hughes Edern, preached three times this Sunday, accompanying him were Miss Jones, Pentre’r Felin and Miss Kate Roberts, Shop Edern.

 July 28th

Rev Robert Williams, Rhosfawr preaches.

July 30

The ‘Fairy’ comes to Bardsey. Mrs Capt Roberts donates half a sovereign to the cause.

August 4.

Communion Sunday.

August 18.

The Wesleyan preachers are staying on Bardsey namely Mr John Evans, Aberdaron and Mr Evan Williams, Abersoch.

December 29.

Communion Sunday. A good end to the final week of this year. Prayer meetings each evening.




This month passed without anything remarkable to report, save that the Mercy of the Lord continues to surround us.

February 13.

The old brother Griffith Ty Pella is ill. This month one soul left the love of Jesus for worldly love.


Nothing remarkable to write about this month.

April 14

This evening, Whit Monday, there was a sermon in the new chapel.

May 12 to 17.

Prayer meetings were held each evening this week for the coming of the Lord amongst us.

May 25

Evan Hughes, Deunant, Aberdaron is preaching this Sunday.

June 5

Furniture for the Mission House is bought in Mr Gabriel J Jones’s shop in Pwllheli.

June 10

A boat from Rhiw tries to land on the island today the boatmen and others in it are drunk (SHAME ON THEM)

June 10

A boat from Tudweiliog comes to the island but on their return journey they are unable to get further than Porth Meudwy as there was no wind for the sails.

June 18.

A steamer from Caernarvon ‘The Princess of Wales’ paid a visit to the island today with about 108 passengers. The visitors complained that we did not have a missionary box for the island. We must arrange one for next year.

July 23

Today a ship from Pwllheli bought the furniture for the Mission House from Mr John Gabriel Jones, watchmaker, Pwllheli.

 NB – On the 15th the Steamer Princess of Wales was here. And on the 16th we had a preaching festival.

September 1

Eisteddfod on Bardsey – but doesn’t live up to its name. The steamer ‘Princess of Wales’ brings visitors to the Eisteddfod.

September 4

Sleeping for the first time in the new Mission House.

September 17

The ‘Princess of Wales brings passengers from Aberystwyth.

October 13.

Harvest Festival. Preaching at six. Collection for the light £1/2/3d


Nothing to report this month.

December 1

The island’s missionary collection in hand £10/12/7d.

December 25.

Christmas meeting with the children when we give them presents.




Trying our best to promote the way to the Gospel by education and morals in the Sunday and daily school.

January 31.

Thomas Jones, Evan Jones, son has a terrible accident today. His face is severely injured by the mare.


Nothing of importance to write in the chronicle this month.

March 20

Liberal meeting, where I used Esiah 58 –6 to explain matters.

April 9

There’s a bonfire on top of the mountain in honour of Watkin Williams MP and Lord Newborough.

April 16

Robert Williams, Carreg Bach dies away at sea.

Mai 24 to 25

Preaching Festival on Bardsey.


Nothing to note.

July 20

The ‘Fairy’ with a great deal of passengers on board visited the island today.

August 2

A new member joins the society today, Jane Williams Ty Newydd.

August 11

Two strange preachers are here preaching today.

August 12

Griffith Williams, Plas Bach dies.

August 16

His funeral, we take him to Aberdaron to be buried..

September 7

Today we received a magnificent bell to place in the new chapel from Mr John Gabriel Jones, Pwllheli’ His gift is very much appreciated.

September 9.

Today we put the bell in its rightful place.

October 4

Harvest festival. All the islanders are present. Collection for the light 17/7d.  Evening sermon Luc 12 –16-21.

October 27.

It’s too stormy to hold a prayer meeting this evening.


I spent this month in London. Therefore I cannot account for the happenings on the island, but to say things went on as best they could, everyone doing his bit faithfully and with dedication.

December 13

Tonight Mr Thomas Pritchard, Ty Pella and Mr William Williams Cristin, finished collecting the missionary collection. Yet again a handsome sum of £11/7/6d was received. The total of the various collections comes to £22/9/7d

December 31

Even though Bardsey is not what we would wish for in terms of education, morals and religion, each year brings new hopes and signs and it would be safe to say that the last year has seen a marked improvement in all aspects. We had a year of good spiritual and physical health given to us by the grace of God. There was also a revival of faith with more islanders attending services. We must surely praise the Lord for his goodness and wonder to the son of man. We had only one death this year.




At the start of this year we had a week of Prayer meetings, but I was unable to complete the week as I was prevented from doing so by illness and stormy weather. Such snow as we have had has not been seen on the island for very many years. The whole island was covered in snow. Hurricane winds blew the snow all over creating drifts that were covered in thick ice. Dozens of birds fled the island and dozens more were blown off the cliffs. This is a terrible tempest.

January 24

A boat goes over to the mainland to fetch Dr Owen to come and see John Williams, Ty Bach.


I went over to the mainland this month to deliver a report on the condition of the mission on Bardsey, at the Monthly Meeting held at Fourcrosses on the 7th.


It’s been a month of strong and gale force winds.

April 4

I went round to count the people for the Government Census. The population of Bardsey was 71.


As this month was a fine one many people came to visit from Aberdaron in their boats. Nothing much else happened.

July 21 and the following days.

Mr Kinsley form Caernarvon has come to the island to photograph the islanders and various sights on the island. The ‘Fairy’ pays a visit with 68 passengers on board. Haymaking this week on the island.

August 11

Rev Capt Hughes, Gellidara and Rev Jones, Plastirion, Pwllheli come to the island to preach.

August 12

Preaching Festival.

August 13

The preachers return to Aberdaron.

August 16

Mr O Robyns Owen, Pwllheli visits the island.


Nothing much to report other than that most important of all that the Lord in his grace and wisdom smiles upon us.

October 10

Harvest Festival.

October 14

A storm of wind and rain the like of which no one on the island can recall ever experiencing before. This has been a very tempestuous month indeed.

October 23

Communion Sunday.


This month in relation to Bardsey can be best described as the month of the great imprisonment, when it was three weeks before any communication could be had with Aberdaron. This was due to gale force winds that lasted from the 8th to the 29th of this month. It’s been thirty five years since the islanders were stranded for so long.


The islanders main topic these days is a lifeboat for Bardsey. The Honourable Charles Wynn is working tirelessly on our behalf in this matter.

December 19

Our friends Thomas Pritchard, Ty Pella and William Williams, Cristin have again finished the collection for the mission and the amount is £11/12/5d. Total collections amount to £19/4/2d

December 26

We held our Christmas meeting this evening in the school house. It was an enjoyable and constructive meeting an the schoolhouse that had been admirably decorated by Mrs M Bowen and Mr D Briggs of the Lighthouse. The progress in the children’s education could be clearly seen in their excellent singing and recitation. Many of the islanders gave speeches and Old Father Ty Pella, Griffith Pritchard was in good form and emphasising the worth of an early education, and that everyone should make the effort and strive for knowledge. This year again has passed with no deaths or serious illness on the island. Even though the boats came close to disaster many a time and being lost in heavy fog they all thankfully returned safely. For this we must praise the Lord for his wondrous goodness and salvation from all ills.



January 1

This year begins on the Sabbath. Stormy wet weather also herald in the New Year.


Nothing to report.


Much the same.


Trying our best to get a lifeboat here. I preached a lot in English this month.


The men from Trinity House, build a new house at the lighthouse. A ship brings a load of coal. I sent the money for the coal to Mr Williams and Sons Liverpool on the 30th of the month.  


Trying to get a grant from the Government for the daily school. Mr Watts has to hire a boat to come over on the 26th to examine the children. Mr Watts praises the children’s work but as the school is beyond the realms of the Government he cannot allow a grant to be given.

July 28

The Rev O R Morris from America comes to Bardsey.

July 30

Rev O R Morris gives a sermon.

July 31

Rev O R Morris gives a lecture on America.

August 11

Professor John, his wife and the Rev John Owen MA, Cricieth and Thomas Owen, Pwllheli pay a visit to the island – they pass comment on the stone near Plas Bach.


The ‘cause’ is still alive in the land.

October 1

A new member joins the society.

October 9

Harvest Festival. Collection 16/1d.

October 15

Sabbath evening. Accepted six that were raised in the church to become full members.


Nothing important to chronicle.


Mission collection £12/1/6d. Christmas meeting with the children – excellent. We again witnessed God’s blessings upon us, even though some were ill no one passed away. We held prayer meetings to end the year.



January. This year began as the other ended with prayer meetings during the week. Many joined us and we felt a warmth and knew that God was amongst us. On the 16th Griffith Williams, Ty Pella, a faithful member has died. He died after suffering a fit having just finished his supper. He came to religion on the day that the new chapel opened which was August 1st 1876, having been faithful to the creed for over seven years, he died aged 78 and had a respectable burial on the 20th and an eulogy on the 21st . He will be sorely missed, but for his part he will be joyous at being accepted to the glory of the Lord.


A new minister comes to Bardsey.


March 12.

I William Jones, Gosen, Llanaelhaiarn, in the company of the Rev William Thomas Jones, former minister of the island, came to the island today to undertake the position of missionary to the island. I had a joyous and kind welcome from all the islanders without exception.

March 13

I preach for the first time this evening.

"Rev William Jones and his children"

April 21.

Mrs Mary Jones, Garregfawr dies aged 84. It was only but a short while since she found religion. I visited her each day during her illness. Amongst other things she told me that she was afraid that she would not be able to enter the Kingdom of Heaven, but I told her that if she had any love for Jesus in her heart then she would most certainly be accepted. She replied “Yes indeed I do” “I love Him”. And that’s how she died living in hope. Her body was taken over to Aberdaron for burial. The burial took place on the 25th if April.

April 29

Eulogy for Mrs Mary Jones, Garregfawr.

May 29

Rev G Griffiths, Cephas, Aberdaron preaches this evening.

June 23

Received Missionary Box as a gift from Mr James Thomas, Holyhead.

June 24

Christened Thomas Jones, Mission House.

July 1

Revs Henry Parry and Evan Williams here to preach.

July 29

Rev Evan Hughes, Plas Ffordd preaches.

July 31

Preaching Festival.

Rev Hugh Hughes, Gellidara, Llywelyn Edwards, Charles Edwards MA Aberystwyth and Capt Thomas, Bodlondeb who is representing the monthly meeting.

August 1

The ministers leave the island.

October 15

Harvest Festival.

December 25

Christmas day. We have a literary evening. The children have learnt their work exceptionally well.



January 6 to 12

Prayer meetings were held as usual all week. There is no doubt that God is among us.

August 17

Rev R Williams, Pencaerau preaches.

October 20

Harvest Festival.

December 25

Excellent annual meeting.



January 11 to 17

Prayer meetings and clear indications that the Lord is pouring his Spirit over us.

April 19

Began prayer meetings with the younger members

June 29

 John H Jones, Mission House was christened by the Rev Thomas Owen, Porthmadog, who on the island on a visit with the ‘Snowdon’ Porthmadog.

December 25

Christmas day. We hold a brilliant annual meeting. The singing and recitation are excellent. The ‘cause’ continues to progress and is succeeding in many ways, the Sunday School is better than ever before.



February 2

Today William Hughes Dyno Goch, the eldest of the island’s residents dies he was 71 years. He had suffered a long and wearying illness. He was buried on the island on the 6th.

February 7

Whilst preaching this morning I felt the definite presence of the Lord as Nathaniel Williams, Safn Pant, Aberdaron came to the service for the first time ever.


Today Mrs Ann Williams Plas Bach died aged 77. She had been a faithful member of the church for many years, and was very industrious in the works of the Lord.




We began this year with prayer meetings, attendance was good, but the presence of the Lord was not felt and they were uneventful.


Rev Robert Williams preaches.

October 3

Harvest Festival. It was a good service and some presence of the Lord could be felt.


On the whole it has been a good year and we have experienced the goodness of God and enjoyed good health and no one gone astray.



Held the usual prayer meetings, but failed to complete them due to illness. Many islanders suffered from the measles that caused many of them to be absent from chapel. No fatalities occurred during the outbreak.




Held prayer meetings and it was obvious that the Lord was giving us clear indications that he was pleased with our progress here.

January 17

Tonight the Rev Robert Williams, lectures on America, it was very interesting and many attended and were well satisfied with the lecture, which they all thought was excellent.

August 11

Thomas Edwin Davies of the Lighthouse is christened.

October 14

Harvest Festival and clear indications of the presence of the Holy Spirit.

November 20

The remains of Lord Newborough were brought to the island to be buried in a tomb in the old cemetery of the Holy Saints. The grave was dug under the auspices of Mr Thomas Williams, Penbryn, Llidiardau, Aberdaron.

December 25

Christmas day. We had an evening of entertainment in the school house, that had been beautifully decorated by Mrs Bowen of the Lighthouse. Miss Bowen and Miss Jane Pritchard.

December 26.

Today the children were given a party in which they received tea and ‘bara brith’ Mrs Bowen, Miss Bowen and Miss Pritchard waited on the tables.

. During the year Miss ME Marsh, Ty Brith, Carno donated over a hundred books and a beautiful bookcase to be kept in the chapel. The books are lent out to the islanders and have so far proved an invaluable asset.



The year began yet again with prayer meetings, but they had to be cancelled due to an outbreak of influenza.

July 4

Miss Rosina Davies an Evangelist from the South, visits the island. Nathaniel Williams Carreg Bach becomes a member of the church.



January 17

Mr John Griffith Pencaerau visits the island on behalf of the monthly meeting to report on how the ‘cause’ is getting on.

January 27

Mr John Griffith returns home from the island. The weather was to be bad to cross back before now.


March 13

Put a new flagstaff on the top of the mountain.

March 17

Winifred Jones is born at the Mission House.


Mrs Neal of the Lighthouse dies aged 32. Her last words were “Oh the bright beautiful home”.

April 7

Mrs Neal’s funeral on Bardsey.

June 7

Winifred Jones is christened at the Mission House.

July 4

The painters come to the lighthouse. The manager is Mr Goodwin.

July 9

The lighthouse tower colours are changed from white to red and white.

August 21

A monument is brought from Caernarvon to put on Lord Newborough’s grave.

September 4

The Honourable FG Wynn visits the island.

September 16

The monument for Lord Newborough’s grave is finished. The height of the monument is twenty five feet, width 25 feet and weighs 22 tons.

November 4

Mr Thomas Bowen leaves the island having been a supervisor at the lighthouse for over 17 years.

December 3

Mr Bowen dies at Pwllheli aged 68.

December 8

Mr Bowen ‘s funeral at Denio.



January 13

Ellen Hughes, Dyno Goch, marries in Liverpool.

March 18

Maggie Jones Ty Bach dies aged 51.

March 24

Her funeral on Bardsey.


Rev Hugh Pugh, Penygraig and Mr John Jones Bodychenan visit the island on behalf of the monthly meeting.

October 25

Mr Edwrad Neal, leaves the lighthouse for St Tudwals Lighthouse.

November 14

Thomas Ty Newydd dies aged 62.

November 15

I went over to the mainland to fetch a coffin.

November 16

I returned to the island with the coffin, and then went back with the body to the mainland.

November 17

Thomas Jones’s funeral at Aberdaron cemetery.

November 19

I returned from the funeral.

December 15

Hugh Williams, Dyno Goch is born.



Hugh Williams, Dyno Goch’s christening

May 9

Mr and Mrs Davies leave the lighthouse for Holyhead.



The Honourable FG Wynn and Mr G Tarren from Caernarvon pay a visit to the island




Influenza affects most of the islanders.

May 8

Nathaniel Williams the eldest of the islanders dies aged 80. He died quite suddenly.

May 11

Nathaniel Williams is buried on the island.

July 18

Painters at the lighthouse. Mr Goodwin is the foreman.



March 15

This Sabbath evening Capt John Williams, stays for the service – there is great joy because of this.

March 22

Mary Ellen, Dyno Goch is christened.

June 9

A ship brings coal to the island.

June 26

A ship brings materials to re build Carreg Bach.

June 29

Workers come to put a new roof on Carreg Bach and to repair other houses. Their foreman is Mr Thomas Williams (Penbryn).

October 7

An unforgettable storm – the tides have risen quite high.

October 21

Ellen Hughes, Dyno Goch, dies aged 77.

October 24

Ellen Hughes, Dyno Goch’s funeral on the island.



June 15

Mr Jenkins, the lighthouse keeper falls over the cliff on the mountain. Two weeks later he dies in hospital in Holyhead.

June 23

Queen Victoria’s Jubilee, she has reigned for 60 years. A tea party was held on the island, donated by Miss Marsh, Carno.

August 4

Maggie Jones, Mission House is born at 6.15 pm.

October 9

George Norton and his family leave the lighthouse.

November 11

Mrs Margaret Williams, Ty Bach dies, she is buried in Aberdaron.



April 30

Margaret Ann, Dyno Goch is born.

May 2

Hugh Dobson, the farm servant at Plas Bach is accepted as a full member of the chapel.

August 7

Maggie Jones, Mission House is christened by the Rev W G Hughes, Uwchmynydd.

October 20

Margaret Ann, Dyno Goch is christened.

December 4.

Ellen Jones Garreg Fawr dies aged 65.

December 8

Her body is taken over to Aberdaron for burial. The weather was bad at the time and we had to make a coffin from materials on the island.


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