Ronald D. Dennis, trans. and ed., Defending the Faith: Early Welsh Missionary Publications (Provo, Utah: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, 2003), xiii-xix.
In the fall of 1847, William Howells, a lay Baptist minister in Aberdare, South Wales, read a forty-page pamphlet published by Dan Jones, the leader of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Wales. Howells was so affected by the pamphlet that he determined to seek out its author and be baptized a member of the new religion, although he had not ever spoken with an LDS missionary.
Dan Jones’s account of the baptism appeared in the Millennial Star a short time later: “He came four miles purposely to be baptized, though he had never heard a sermon, only reading my publications; especially my last reply . . . finished him entirely, and he came in as good a spirit as anyone that I ever saw, and has just returned on his way rejoicing” (9:364). Some three decades ago when I read about the power of Jones’s pamphlet I was eager to know its contents.
My curiosity eventually led me to learn the Welsh language and translate the pamphlet in question (A review of the lectures of the Rev. E. Roberts, [a Baptist minister in Rhymni], against Mormonism, which were delivered in Caersalem, September the Second, and in Bethania [a Congregational chapel], September the Third, in Dowlais, [J13]) and many other mid-nineteenth-century items published by the Latter-day Saint press in Wales.
The earliest mention of such a press is in a letter that Dan Jones wrote to Thomas Bullock in 1855 concerning Jones’s steamboat the Maid of Iowa. Jones quoted Joseph Smith’s words to him shortly before the Martyrdom: “I have a check in the house for $1200; as soon as I can get it cashed you shall have $1100 of it, and the start for Wales, not with your fingers in your mouth but prepared to buy a press, and do business aright.”
Joseph Smith and Dan Jones first met on 13 April 1843 when the Maid of Iowa arrived at Nauvoo with some two hundred British Saints. Jones had converted to Mormonism about three months earlier and had eagerly anticipated a personal acquaintance with his new spiritual leader. The Prophet took an immediate liking to Jones and his steamboat. And Captain Dan Jones felt an immediate loyalty to Joseph Smith, a loyalty that Jones maintained to his death in 1862.
Levi Moffatt and Dan Jones each had half ownership in the Maid of Iowa. Moffatt complained bitterly that their freighting business on the Mississippi had been greatly damaged by his partner’s conversion to Mormonism. His complaining ceased, however, when on 2 June 1843 he received “two notes for $1,375” from Joseph Smith for his half of the 60-ton, 115-foot steamboat (History of the Church, 5:416). With that transaction, the Maid of Iowa and its captain entered full-time service for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
One year later, Joseph Smith arranged to buy Dan Jones’s half of the steamboat, thus liberating Jones to answer the call to missionary service he had received in May 1843. Because of the confusion surrounding the Martyrdom, Jones did not ever receive the promised money for his half of the Maid of Iowa. Thus, he was unable to purchase the press he had apparently discussed with the Prophet. This did not deter him from publishing materials in favor of the Church during his first mission to Wales, but they had to be done on a hired press instead of the press he had hoped to own.
Jones published his first pamphlet in Wrexham, North Wales, just three months after arriving in the land of his birth. Eight months later he published his second pamphlet, this time in South Wales. The press he used was one located in Rhydybont, a small village near Llanybydder in Carmarthenshire. The owner of the press was Dan Jones’s older brother, the Reverend John Jones, an ordained Congregationalist minister who supplemented his income with his printing activities. Because he agreed to print the “dull and idiotic” writings of the “Mormons” his colleagues of the cloth accused him of operating a “prostitute press” (Seren Gomer, or Star of Gomer, December 1847, p. 375). The Reverend Jones’s reaction to such accusations was calm: “Our work in printing their books proves nothing more than the fact that our press is made of iron and its owner is a free craftsman” (Y Golygydd, or The Editor, January 1846, p. 2 of the wrapper).
By the time of his departure, four years later, Jones had published the following:
- Fourteen pamphlets ranging in size from 4 to 104 pages, a total of 328 pages.
- Thirty full issues of a periodical from July 1846 to December 1848, a total of 580 pages.
- A scriptural commentary in defense of Mormonism, a total of 288 pages.
- A hymnal containing 133 hymns, a total of 64 pages.
Dan Jones returned to Wales on his second mission toward the end of 1852 and served until April of 1856. During this time period he acquired his own press on which he published the following:
- Twenty-one pamphlets ranging in size from 2 to 52 pages, a total of 274 pages.
- Seventy-two full issues of a periodical from January 1854 to March 1856, a total of 1,152 pages.
When Dan Jones departed Wales in early 1849, following his first mission, a young man by the name of John S. Davis assumed the printing responsibilities of the LDS church in Wales. Davis had become converted to the Church in Carmarthenshire in 1846 while setting the type for some of Dan Jones’s early publications. For five years, from January 1849 to December 1853, Davis directed all publishing and printing for the Church on his own press. His production of LDS church materials during this time period is staggering:
- Twenty-five pamphlets ranging in size from 2 to 72 pages, a total of 302 pages.
- One-hundred-twenty-nine issues of a periodical from January 1849 to December 1853, a total of 2,352 pages.
- Fifteen poems ranging in size from one page to four pages, a total of 28 pages.
- Three hymnals:
— The 1849 hymnal, containing 194 hymns, a total of 112 pages.
— The 1851 hymnal, a second edition of the 1846 hymnal, a total of 64 pages.
— The 1852 hymnal, containing 575 hymns, a total of 384 pages.
- A register book for recording membership information, a total of 184 pages.
- A new edition of the Testament of the twelve patriarchs, a total of 74 pages.
- Six translations into Welsh:
—The first general epistle, a total of 12 pages.
—Lectures on faith, a total of 40 pages.
—The great first cause, a total of 28 pages.
— The Book of Doctrine and Covenants, a total of 320 pages.
—The Book of Mormon, a total of 496 pages.
—The Pearl of Great Price, a total of 85 pages.
The combined efforts of Dan Jones and John Davis spanned an eleven-year period and resulted in an impressive total of 7,167 pages—2,686 by Jones and 4,481 by Davis. These publications gave a powerful boost to the proselyting activities of the small group of missionaries for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints during that time period in Wales. But because they are all in the Welsh language (with the exception of a two-page pamphlet in French and five poems in English) the publications are virtually unknown in the field of Church history today.
Believing that the valiant efforts of Dan Jones and John S. Davis deserve to be known, I offer this volume of translations. They are prepared in “facsimile translation” form—a translation into English in a format that resembles the Welsh originals as much as possible. The brief section entitled “Facsimile Translation Considerations” contains greater details concerning this procedure.
My facsimile translation of Prophwyd y Jubili (Prophet of the Jubilee), the periodical that Dan Jones produced during his first mission, was published in 1997 by the Brigham Young University Religious Studies Center. My facsimile translation of the first year (1849) of Udgorn Seion (Zion’s Trumpet), John Davis’s continuation of Jones’s earlier periodical, was published in 2001, also by the Brigham Young University Religious Studies Center.
The current volume contains facsimile translations of seventy items plus facsimiles of five poems produced by the nineteenth-century Welsh Mormon press:
- Thirty-five pamphlets published by Dan Jones.
- Twenty-one pamphlets published by John Davis.
- Fifteen poems published by John Davis:
—Six poems in Welsh by John Davis.
—Four poems in Welsh by other poets.
—Four poems in English by John Davis.
—One poem in English by John Taylor.
- Two pamphlets published by Thomas Jones and printed by John Davis.
- One poem published by Dewi Elfed Jones.
- A book list published by Daniel Daniels.
A brief discussion of each item is on the introductory page that precedes its translation. Discussions of all the items (except for P1 and O4) are also in my Welsh Mormon Writings from 1844 to 1862: A Historical Bibliography, published by Brigham Young University Religious Studies Center in 1988. Welsh Mormon Writings (hereafter identified as WMW) is a companion volume to Defending the Faith: Early Welsh Missionary Publications, and the reader may consult the discussions in WMW to obtain further details concerning the appearance and content of each of the seventy-five items (with the exception of Tom’s Escape, a one-page poem by John Davis [P1], and a two-page book list [O4] that surfaced after WMW had gone to press).
Thirty-four items discussed in WMW are not included in Defending the Faith. Dan Jones’s 288-page The scriptural treasury (item 20) is too bulky to include, and John Davis’s Register of the members (item 34) consists mainly of empty pages intended for the recording of membership information. The following is a list of the other thirty-two items not included (periodicals, hymnals, collections of publications, items translated from English, and pamphlets having identical contents to other editions—the item number is the one used in WMW):
- Prophet of the Jubilee. Item 5. This periodical is available in facsimile translation in its entirety.
- Capt. Jones on Mormonism, in 1846. Item 9. Advertised in the July 1847 issue of Prophet of the Jubilee as a collection of seven publications. The two extant volumes of item 9 have only six of the publications advertised. One is the first six issues of Prophet of the Jubilee. The other five publications are included in Defending the Faith.
- What is the gospel? Item 10. Included in its entirety in its second edition (item 11).
- Capt. Jones on Mormonism, in 1847. Item 19. The only extant copy of this volume contains the twelve issues of Prophet of the Jubilee for 1847 plus six other publications. All six of the other publications are included in Defending the Faith.
- Zion’s Trumpet. Item 23. The first twelve issues of this periodical are available in facsimile translation.
- Collection of new hymns. Item 28.
- The first general epistle. Item 32.
- Lectures on faith. Item 41.
- The great first cause. Item 53.
- Testament of the twelve patriarchs. Item 59.
- The Book of Doctrine and Covenants. Item 60.
- The compilement. Item 61. An 1851 collection of twenty-eight publications by John Davis. Twenty-five of these are included in Defending the Faith. The three not included are The first general epistle (item 28), Lectures on faith (item 41), and The great first cause (item 53).
- Bilingual hymnal. Item 64.
- The Book of Mormon. Item 65.
- Observations on that which is in part, and that which is perfect. Item 68. Included in its entirety in its first edition (item 35).
- The Pearl of Great Price. Item 69.
- Collections of hymns. Item 70.
- The compilement. Item 71. An 1853 collection of thirty-four publications by John Davis. Thirty-one of these are included in Defending the Faith. The three not included are Lectures on faith (item 41), The great first cause (item 53), and the 1852 edition of Observations on that which is in part (item 68). The entire contents of the last item, however, are in the 1850 edition of Observations on that which is in part (item 35) which is included in Defending the Faith. One of the thirty-one items from The compilement that is included in Defending the Faith but not given a separate discussion in WMW is the one-page poem Tom’s escape (P1).
- Capt. Jones on Mormonism, in 1854. Item 92. An 1855 collection of fifteen publications by Dan Jones bound with the 1854 issues of Zion’s Trumpet. All fifteen of the items are included in Defending the Faith.
- Capt. Jones on Mormonism, in 1855. Item 97. An 1856 collection of ten publications by Dan Jones bound with the 1855 issues of Zion’s Trumpet. All ten of the items are included in Defending the Faith.
- Works authored by Capt. Jones. Item 98. The three extant volumes by this title have a combined total of twenty-six publications—twenty-four by Dan Jones and two by Thomas Jones. All of these items are included in Defending the Faith except for The scriptural treasury (item 20).
- Marriage and morals in Utah. Item 99.
- The true faith. Item 100.
- True repentance. Item 101.
- Water baptism. Item 102.
- The Holy Spirit. Item 103.
- Spiritual gifts. Item 104.
- Necessity for miracles. Item 105.
- Universal apostasy. Item 106.
- Latter-day kingdom. Item 107.
Ronald D. Dennis
- Size. The sixe of the page and the print of the original has been enlarged by about thirty persent to facilitate reading. To match the size of the other items, new typesettings have been prepared for the five poems originally composed in English and published by John Davis.
- Leading and point size. Whatever variations occur in the space between lines and in the print size of the original are imitated in the translation as closely as possible. Occassionally the leading of the last few pages of a publication was considerably diminished in order to fit in a greater number of lines. I have not imitated this procedure, the result being a difference of as many as twenty lines on any given page of the translation as compared with the original.
- Pagination and groupings. The page numbers of the original publication are imitated in the translation. Some items such as the broadside poems do not have page numbers. The four major groupings of the seventy-five items are indicated with pages having a gray border. The items in each of the four major groupings are separated from each other by pages having a gray background and a black tab. Against the gray background is a discussion for each item.
- Number referring to Welsh Mormon Writings. The discussion for each item also contains the identification number used in Welsh Mormon Writings from 1844 to 1862: A Historical Bibliography.
- Paragraphs and sentences. The tendency of nineteenth-century writers was to use fewer paragraph breaks and much longer sentences than might seem appropriate today. However, for the sake of flavor, the inordinate paragraph size and the seemingly interminable sentence length are imitated in the translations, except in a few instances for clarity’s sake.
- Brackets and parentheses. The only editorial comments in the translations are those of the authors of the originals; consequently, all brackets and parentheses are theirs.
- Italicized words. Italics in the originals are retained in the translations. Besides the normal practice of italicizing the names of periodicals, books, and ships, the editors used italics either to provide emphasis or to indicate the use of a borrowed word or phrase from English.
- Poetry. The primary focus in translating the poetry contained in this volume has been its content. Consequently, rhyme and meter have been ignored.
- Punctuation. Some changes in punctuation and capitalization have been made to facilitate reading.
- Quotations. Even when placed between the appropriate marks, quoted material in the original publications often did not contain the exact wording used in the source. This is also true when the scriptures are quoted. This lack of precision is imitated, as is the method used for citing scriptural chapter and verse.
- Typesetting errors. The typesetters of the originals sometimes inverted letters, cited verses that did not match the accompanying scriptural quotation, left incomplete sentences, misspelled words, or committed other typesetting errors. Lacking an unobtrusive method of indicating in the translations such aspects of the originals and fearing that confusion would result for today’s reader if such flaws were duplicated, I decided to correct these imperfections in the translations.
- Place-names. The modern spelling is used for all place-names. The name in English is used for places that have both an English name and a Welsh name.
- Proper names. I have corrected the spelling of biblical and historical names; however, I have preserved the spelling used for all other proper names even when the same individual’s name has variant spellings.
- Titles of foreign-language publications. To facilitate reading, I have used the English translations for all foreign-manguage titles that appeared in the originals. The following is a list of these translated titles and their corresponding Welsh or French titles:
The Baptist Y Bedyddiwr
The Editor Y Golygydd
The Gospel L’Evangile
The Prophet Y Prophwyd
The Review Yr Adolygiad
The Revivalist Y Diwygiwr
Star of Gomer Seren Gomer
Star of the Saints Seren y Saint
The Times Yr Amserau
The Treasure Yr Eurgrawn
The Trumpet Yr Udgorn
Welsh Hero Gwron Cymreig
Zion’s Trumpet Udgorn Seion
A little more than three decades ago I acquired my first originals of materials published in Welsh by Dan Jones and John Davis. Their contents were a mystery to me. Over the years as more of these fascinating publications came into my possession I felt a growing desire to have translations of them for historians and fellow Welshophiles. In 1976 while on sabbatical in Wales to study the Welsh language, I arranged for Patrick J. Donovan, a graduate student at the University College of Wales at Aberystwyth, to prepare an English translation of Dan Jones’s first pamphlet. Later on Lyn Mererid, Linda Thomas, Glenda Carr, Marilyn Davies, and several other kind individuals from Wales helped me translate a few other pamphlets. Over the years Geraint and Zonia Bowen have provided valuable assistance with translation “trouble spots,” as have my good friends, D. L. Davies, Huw Walters, and Delyth Edwards. Several years ago Linda Hunter Adams and a number of her students at the Brigham Young University College of Humanities Publications Center did many hours of proofreading. More recently Mel Thorne and several of his students, also of the College of Humanities Publications Center, have read proof. Jane Clayson has helped greatly with the typesetting. I am also indebted to Hannah Jenkins and Esyllt Dafydd for their help with translation dilemmas. I also wish to thank the Brigham Young University Religious Studies Center staff for their assistance: Richard D. Draper, Anna M. Anderson, Devan Jensen, James s. Lambert, Mary Frances Nielson, Charlotte A. Pollard, Susan R. Stone, and Heather M. Whitehead. Andrew Livingston of the Institute for the Study and Preservation of Ancient Religious Texts created borders and arabesques that added to the facsimile quality for several of the pamphlets and poems. To all, for their time and expertise, I express my gratitude.