|This old chapel in Llanvaches was built on the site of the first Nonconformist
outpost in Wales. The original was built in 1639 as a Congregationalist
chapel, just before the English civil war. Two hundred years later
the great linguist and traveller George Borrow passed this chapel
while walking the old Chepstow Road on a journey he later wrote up in Wild
Wales. The first Welsh Baptist chapel was at Ilston in Glamorgan and
dates from 1649.
The 1660 restoration of the monarchy in England was followed by religious intolerance and a severe regime lasted until the 1689 Toleration Act. The Quaker movement was established in 1668 and several writers have pointed out that Quakerism had an appeal to the Welsh landowning class of the time. This, combined with the fact that Quakers faced the most severe persecution, led to the high representation of the Welsh in the new colony of Pennsylvania.
Muriel Bowen Evans (Nonconformity in the 2nd edition of Welsh
Family History) says that " ... the roles of Nonconformity were
so dynamic that if those searching for their Welsh ancestors wish to understand
their social milieu they must take account of it. Moreover, by the second
half of the nineteenth century, the proportion of chapel adherents among
those who attended places of worship was so high that almost all researchers
into family history in Wales must expect to have had some Nonconformist
|Note: A Nonconformist is a member of a religious group detached from the official Church of England (and in Wales, from the Church in Wales). Quakers, Baptists, Congregationalists, Unitarians and Methodists represent some of the different flavours of Nonconformity.|