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Christmas Evans: Welsh Nonconformist

Christmas EvansChristmas Evans (1766-1838), Welsh Nonconformist divine, was born near the village of Llandyssul, Cardiganshire, on the 25th of December 1766. His father, a shoemaker, died early, and the boy grew up as an illiterate farm labourer.

At the age of seventeen, becoming servant to a Presbyterian minister, David Davies, he was affected by a religious revival and learned to read and write in English and Welsh. The itinerant Calvinistic Methodist preachers and the members of the Baptist church at Llandyssul further influenced him, and he soon joined the latter denomination.

In 1789, he went into North Wales as a preacher and settled for two years in the desolate peninsula of Lleyn, Carnarvonshire, whence he removed to Llangefni in Anglesey. Here, on a stipend of £17 a year, supplemented by a little tract-selling, he built up a strong Baptist community, modeling his organization to some extent on that of the Calvinistic Methodist. Many new chapels were built, the money being collected on preaching tours which Evans undertook in South Wales

In 1826 Evans accepted an invitation to Caerphilly, where he remained for two years, removing in 1828 to Cardiff. In 1832, in response to urgent calls from the north, he settled in Carnarvon and again undertook the old work of building and collecting. He was taken ill on a tour in South Wales, and died at Swansea on the 19th of July 1838. In spite of his early disadvantages and personal disfigurement (he had lost an eye in a youthful brawl), Christmas Evans was a remarkably powerful preacher. To a natural aptitude for this calling he united a humble mind and an inquiring spirit; his character was simple, his piety humble and his faith fervently evangelical. For a time he came under Sandemanian influence, and when the Wesleyans entered Wales he took the Calvinist side in the bitter controversies that were frequent from 1800 to 1810. His chief characteristic was a vivid and affluent imagination, which absorbed and controlled all his other powers, and earned for him the name of "the Bunyan of Wales."

From The Encyclopædia Britannica. 11th ed. New York: Encyclopædia Britannica, 1910.

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