By the beginning of 1820 Anglesey had not as yet seen any widespread awakening. There may have been the occasional sermon from a visiting preacher fresh from the stirring scenes of a Caernarfon or Bala Association which might have sparked the expectation that something greater was soon to occur, but nothing of significance seems to have happened until 1822 when finally a very powerful revival broke out on the island, chiefly among the Calvinistic Methodists. Its beginnings in the summer of the previous year were small, confined to the young people at Bethel in the parish of Trefdraeth. A detailed account is given in Goleuad Cymruby one of the elders who supervised the work and held special fellowship meetings for the young people affected.The movement gradually grew in strength throughout the remainder of the year, with more and more becoming concerned for their spiritual state, and rejoicing and leaping when they felt they had obtained salvation. It did not extend to other congregations until 1822, when it became more general. By the end of February it had spread to six neighbouring localities. Writing at the end of May, John Elias refers to the revival and a monthly meeting that had been held at Glasinfryn in mid March:
The Revival is spreading in Anglesey these days so that I believe it will lay waste the wilderness of our land. We had a very comfortable Monthly Meeting lately. Every place was too small. It was necessary to go out into the field, and there was a multitude of people there, more than you have seen in many Associations, and the unction was invincible. It began in the Schoolhouse where I am.
Goleuad Cymru,ii (1822), pp. 421-4, 493-5, 517-8, 539-40.
John Elias, Memorandum book, NLW, CMA Bala 56.
NLW, MS 9030E, as quoted in Goronwy Price Owen, ‘Llythyrau John Elias o Fôn: Astudiaeth Destunol ac Arweiniad i’r Prif Themâu’ (University of Wales Ph.D. Thesis, 1999), cyf. 2, p. 329.
1821-2 Anglesey. Began at Bethel in 1821:‘AN ACCOUNT OF A REVIVAL OF RELIGION IN ANGLESEY;
In a Letter to the Publisher.
SIR.—I have taken it upon myself to be so bold as to send to your Goleuad a short account of the revival in Bethel, Trefdraeth parish, Anglesey.—It started on the 1st day of July 1821, when W.I. preached in the evening from John 6:37. The truth affected one young lad in a convicting way: he remained behind in the private meeting, though he could not say much, but wept and shook. For some months he was very confused in his mind at the view of his perdition. But now it was clear to him, and others also, that the Lord had revealed his Son as a suitable Saviour to him; and presently he praised the Lord for what he had done for his soul.—A time after that, at a private meeting, a girl of 9 years old broke out crying out, and thanked God for sending his Son to the world, &c.; and with that, another girl, 12 years old, shouted out, in similar words: and so also did several other children.—One of the brethren inquired what was acting on their minds. They answered that it was not because they had the account of their perdition in Adam, but that God had enlightened them to see it, and that they needed to know Jesus Christ, and that made them shout out and give thanks.—Seeing this, I announced a private meeting for the children, and about 15 came together. In such a meeting it was expected that each would say a verse publicly. The Lord showed his satisfaction with this by manifesting himself and his Son to the children so that they broke out in praise, and the theme of their praise was Jesus Christ, and him crucified. Next, one of the boys read a portion of the Bible and gave out a verse to sing, and I went to pray for their cause; and after that, I asked them about some of the clearest and most foundational subjects of religion, and about their own experiences, &c. They answered consistently, confessing their sorrow for sin, and confidence in Christ, &c. About the middle of the meeting, a boy or a girl gave out another verse to sing; and after that I urged them to endeavour to conduct themselves in all things consistent with the gospel of Christ.—I held meetings for the children similar to this every week for some months, without any of the religious friends with me, apart from one mother in Israel; and none of the meetings would finished without some thanking and praising Jesus Christ, clapping their hands and praising, sometimes for two hours without ceasing. Sometimes one of the naughty children of the area would come to watch them and mock them; but as they heard them praising, and repeating the scriptures, they also would break out crying, “I too am a lost sinner—What should I do to be saved?” &c. Thus the fellowship grew continually until the number was about 40—And as new ones were received in, I asked them carefully about the work of the Holy Spirit upon their souls. To this they generally replied that they were very sorry for sinning against God and that they saw to some degree the evil of it, and were very thankful to God for sending his Son to save sinners, &c. Then I would ask all in respect to their salvation, and ask for the consent of each of the children to accept such into the fellowship.
I observed that on a girl, who had been in the society since her birth, God began to work on first in this revival; which continues until now. Her mother once asked her how many hymns she could say; she said two hundred. Her mother asked what she has to say as she rejoices with the children; she replied, O mother! the more that I say, the more God gives to me to say. I will only be able to say a little of the evil that I see in sin and of the goodness of God in delivering his Son for sinners.
God having thus visited the children, working began to appear in the Church, so that they praising became confused together. And as the people of the region heard of this, they came and stayed in the houses around the chapel, until the rejoicing broke out; and then they went in, many [?] hundred in a few minutes.—Sunday night, December 30, the prayer-meeting and private society had past very quietly; but before a great many had gone out, a little girl gave out the verse of a hymn, and started to sing it. With this, all the children and everyone sang together, praised, and leapt at the power of the revelation of the glory of Jesus to them. I do not remember ever hearing or seeing such a thing among a congregation of 120, between people and children. I happened to have gone out at the time
(GC 1822, pp.421-4, 493-5, 517-8, 539-40)
Bethel: ‘In the year 1822, this church, like other churches in Anglesey, had a strong and powerful revival. At this time she was a ‘joyful mother of children,’ and ‘came rejoicing, gathering her sheaves.’ The ministry was with such power that the most stubborn could not withstand it. The uncomfortable feelings between the members melted away like ice in the heat of the sun. The Sun of Righteousness shone with healing in his wings, and the Holy Spirit was poured out on all flesh—old and young, men and women, on the world and the church.’ (Pritchard, Methodistiaeth Môn, p.155; MC ii. 518-9)
Spread to many other places. ‘In the year 1822, the whole county had a very powerful visitation. This is considered one of the chief, if not the chief, revivals that Anglesey has ever had. Harvest came—a season of harvesting and gathering in the sheaves with rejoicing throughout the whole county, having sown in tears. Zion began a joyful mother of children; and the talk throughout the regions was, ‘This and that man was born in her.’ We cannot follow it to every neighbourhood. Aberffraw and Bethel, and their surroundings received a large portion of the shower. The Sabbath School in Bethel grew from 40 to 200. This was the year of that wonderful Association that was in Llangefni: the congregations of Bethel and Aberffraw met, and went together to Llangefni, and had a prayer-meeting on the highway; and Elias preached in Llangefni [on 20th June 1822, see J.E. Memorandum book CMA Bala 56] on Isa. 52:10; “The Lord hath made bare his holy arm in the eyes of all the nations,” &c. When he described the Lord making bare his arm, and pointed with his arm, as was his custom, he undid the base of his sleeve almost all around. That was a fearful meeting. It is said that so many handkerchiefs were never seen out before, and of the glorious use they were put to; namely, drying the tears that were flowing listening to the gospel. If pocket handkerchiefs ever answered their purpose, this was the time. Others were moved with rejoicing, having lost complete control of themselves! It is clear that such a sight was never seen before in Anglesey, or since. The thanksgiving was heard miles away! We almost think that the angels there rejoiced by the thousand to see sinners repenting. The people held prayer-meetings along the roads as they returned home. One was in Lon y Dyffryn—not far from Pen-y-garnedd. It was three o’clock in the morning when they reached their homes. Prayer-meetings were held each night in the chapels, and some in the corners of the quarries; the sound of singing and praise was throughout the whole county; the heavenly fire had taken complete control of the island. Amlwch and its environs felt the ‘powers of the world to come’ that year. The Rev. Moses Jones, of Pen-cae-newydd, in Eifionydd, was the chief instrument in setting these regions of fire. The Rev. Michael Roberts, Pwllheli, was to come with Moses Jones, and he was known as one of the most powerful and popular preachers of the age. Both were to be in Bethlehem on the Sabbath night, and some went from Amlwch to hear Michael Roberts, in all likelihood, because Moses Jones was a young man who had just started preaching; but Michael Roberts did not come with Moses Jones, because of ill health; but one greater than Michael Roberts came with him, namely the ‘Master of assemblies.’ Moses Jones had an unusually powerful meeting; great rejoicing broke out there, and among those rejoicing were the people from Amlwch. They went home singing and praising; on the following Thursday night, several came to the church meeting. Consequently, Moses Jones became very popular; the chapels were too small to contain the hearers. We remember when very young being very eager to hear him preach after hearing our mother talking so much about him. In the heat of this revival our dear brother, the Rev. Robert Hughes, Gaerwen, came to faith; and if what we heard is true, on top of Mynydd Parys, returning from Llanerchymedd, having been there hearing Moses Jones, the dawn broke upon him, and he broke out in praise and thanksgiving. In the body of the year about 170 souls were added to the church of Amlwch.’ (Pritchard, Methodistiaeth Môn, p.368-9)
30 May 1822
I am weary of waiting for a reply to the letter I sent you with W.S. It is certain that some coldness has developed lately between you and I, the cause of which is completely unknown to me. Please inform me in a reply . . .
The Revival is spreading in Anglesey these days so that I believe it will consume the wilderness of our land. We had a very comfortable Monthly Meeting lately. Everywhere is too small. It was necessary to go out into the field, and there was a crowd of people there, more than you have seen in many Associations, and the unction was invincible. It began in the Schoolhouse where I am. We were the first in our land, and nine came to the Society . . .
I am, your [servant],
John Elias.’ [NLW MS 9030E, as quoted in Goronwy Price Owen, ‘Llythyrau John Elias o Fôn: Astudiaeth Destunol ac Arweiniad i’r Prif Themâu’ [University of Wales Ph.D. Thesis, 1999], cyf. 2, p.329]
25 October 1822.
I received your letter, and though you are a perfect stranger to me, I am willing to attempt to give you some satisfaction concerning the subject you wrote to me about it. You appeared at a loss to know what is the cause of the great noise (as you call it) that some of the people make in the prayer meetings and under sermons, and you wish to know the grounds upon which this custom is established.
You are under a great disadvantage, Sir, to form an opinion of it, as I suppose you do not understand the Welsh language, therefore you cannot understand their words, and they are as Barbarians to you. You call it a custom, but, Sir, I assure you that it is not a custom among us, nor any article in our creed. Our congregations in this Island have been without anything of that kind for many years, and most of our congregations in the Principality are silent enough to this day. In the present year the Lord in his great mercy revived his work in this Island. He called many wild and presumptuous sinners from darkness to light, and I hope from the power of Satan unto God through Jesus the Redeemer, who is the way, the truth, and the life. And this stir, the crying out, praising God aloud, are some of the effects of that visitation from above. We may look upon it in the main a work of the Spirit of God, and an effect of the effusion of the Spirit of Grace, which many have been praying and waiting for, but at the same time, we must look upon some circumstances attending it as coming from natural temper [and] human weakness. Most of them that cry out in the congregations are under great concern about their souls, and the bodies of some are seized with trembling, fainting, and convulsive motions, arising from the apprehension and fear of the wrath of God, which they are convinced they are under, and liable to because of their sins. They have quick apprehension of the dreadfulness of that wrath, and for this reason they are so affected. And did we not witness sudden fears and great sorrow upon worldly grounds cause fainting, convulsions, bodily agonies, etc.? What reason can be assigned why terrors and a strong apprehension of the wrath of God, know not but that the sentence of condemnation may be executed upon them, should not have the like effects upon their bodies? On the other hand, is it unreasonable that a poor distressed sinner, looking on himself worthy to be under the wrath of God, and doubting whether such a sinner as he findeth himself, shall be saved, after God revealed to him the way of salvation, and his readiness to accept him in Christ, to rejoice with joy unspeakable and full or glory? Can a weary and heavy--laden sinner possibly do otherwise upon his obtaining a view of Christ by faith as an able and ready Saviour to such a sinner as he is? And who can blame them for praising the Redeemer and sing his praise aloud?
Now, sir, what shall we say to persons in great distress concerning their eternal state, crying ‘What shall we do to be saved?’ Shall we tell them that their fears of the wrath of God is all but delusion? Shall we tell persons lamenting their cursing and swearing, Sabbath-breaking, drunkenness, etc., that it is the devil that makes them now see these evils to be offensive to God? Again, shall we tell them that they love the Lord Jesus too warmly or that they praise him too loudly and publicly?
We dare not say that all of them that are under the impressions that we speak of are godly, nor can we think the work that is on them all a delusion. I think we can safely determine that the work in general is the work of the Spirit of God, though perhaps it is not saving work on some of them. The great change and reformation in the lives and conduct of most of them make it appear to me that the work is of God.
I cannot enlarge at present; having no time. If you wish to ask me other questions in future, I shall be glad to give you every satisfaction in my power, but I am now in such a hurry, going from home (if God permits) tomorrow for a fortnight.
N.B. Many revivals in Scotland, Holland, [and] America were attended with such effects as these revivals in Wales. There was a revival in Ayrshire in Scotland in the years 1625 to 1630, and more than a hundred years after that in Camburslang and Kilsyth near Glasgow. That revival began in 1742. The same effects were in Scotland in the above-mentioned places, and the same in America many times.
The Lord can work on whom he pleases and in the way he pleases.
I am, Sir,
With due respect,
Your humble servant,
(Excuse blunders, in a hurry).’ [Letter from John Elias to Frederick Carmichael, Llys Dulas, near Amlwch, NLW CMA 28616 as quoted in Goronwy Price Owen, ‘Llythyrau John Elias o Fôn: Astudiaeth Destunol ac Arweiniad i’r Prif Themâu’ [University of Wales Ph.D. Thesis, 1999], cyf. 2, pp.334-6]
‘For the transient behavioural lunacy of Welsh revivals see N.L.W. M.S. 11,721C, a letter from John Elias, Llanfechell to F. Carmichael, Amlwch, on the effect of revivals, 25 October 1822’ [W.R. Lambert, Drink and Sobriety in Victorian Wales c.1820-c.1895, Cardiff, 1983, p.158 (footnote 87)]
‘Llanfechell 26 October 1822
I am going to Dolgelley Association today. I am very glad to hear that you go on so comfortably with the new chapel. I hope all things will continue pleasant till it is finished; and that the Lord will shew his approbation of the work, pouring his Holy Spirit on the means of grace, blessing the preaching of the Gospel for the salvation of many sinners.
The revival goes on very delightfully in this island. The kindness of the Lord towards us is wonderful. His visits and the convictions under the Word are truly powerful. Very wild and hardened sinners are alarmed and converted; multitudes are made willing in the day of Christ’s power. I have had the privilege of receiving hundreds into church communion. I received one hundred at once in a certain place; in another place fifty, in another thirty, and in another thirty, and many in several other places. Besides, other ministers have received a great many into the church. This is the Lord’s doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes. Indeed the church in our country is ready to cry out in wonder, asking, ‘Who begat these? and from whence came these?’ Let not my brethren in London be discouraged; God is the same with you.’ (Morgan, John Elias, p.228)
Amlwch: ‘In the year 1822, there was a powerful revival in Amlwch. Prayer meetings were held each week to request a revival; the desire was stirred and strengthened by hearing that strong and powerful visitations had been enjoyed at Dolyddelen and Beddgelert. One Sabbath in the above year, the Venerable Griffith Davies, Llanerchymedd, preached powerfully; and a young man remained in the church meeting. Having had his name, the old preacher said—”Of course, we will give him a new name tonight. We will call him ‘Gad; for a troop cometh.’” And he prophesied correctly. Within a few weeks scores had been added to the church. One night a young girl from a respectable family was in her bed, and there she was deeply convicted of her wretched and sinful condition. She had to get up from her bed, and go from room to room, crying out and asking, like the gaoler, “What must I do to be saved?” All the family were woken up, and some of the neighbours were called in to try to comfort her. And before the morning a great light shone into her troubled mind. This produced hope within her breast. Then she broke out praising God’s grace. The first Sabbath after this young girl’s mind was awakened, it was announced that the Revd. Michael Roberts, of Pwllheli, and Moses Jones, of Pen-cae-newydd, would be at Gareg lefn at six. But Michael Roberts did not come because of ill health; but Moses Jones did come, who was a young man who had just started preaching. The young girl referred to went, together with a host of others, to Gareg lefn, and they had one of the most enlightening and powerful sermons. Great rejoicing broke out there, and among the crowd there was the young girl from Amlwch, and others from the same neighbourhood. They returned to Amlwch singing and praising, like a crowd keeping a feast. The following Thursday night they gave themselves to the Lord’s people in Amlwch. About 140 souls were added to the church before the end of the year. The church was ready to say, “This is the Lord’s doing; it is marvellous in our eyes. The Lord has done great things for us, whereof we are glad.” Our hearts in this age are filled with thanksgiving, and our eyes full of tears as we write of powerful works of the Lord to our fathers and mothers in the church in which we were brought up. Our dear old brother, the Rev. Robert Hughes, Gaerwen, was one of the children of this revival.’ (Pritchard, Methodistiaeth Môn, p.134-5)
Gorslwyd or Rhos-y-bol: ‘In this year  a monthly meeting was held in the place; and as the congregation was much greater than what the chapel could hold, the public means were held in the field near the chapel. There was a particular revival that year, throughout almost the whole county, and the monthly meeting was the special means of bringing the like revival to the congregation of Gorslwyd. Scores broke out crying, like those pricked in their hearts, and anxiously inquiring, “What shall we do to be saved.”
By this time the chapel was too small. Because it was raised by the poor, and that in a time of hardship/depression, it was at the best lowly as well as small, and had been made in the same fashion, and from materials of least cost. One Sabbath after the revival referred to had broken out, when the congregation were there and the minister preaching, the crossbeam gave a loud crack, so that the preacher and hearers feared that the roof of the chapel was about to fall on them.. This circumstance produced the thorough conviction that it was high time to dismantle the building and build a stronger chapel in its place. This also took place in 1827 [is this error for 1822?].’ (MC ii. 591; Pritchard, Methodistiaeth Môn, p.138)
Aberffraw: ‘About the year 1822 a powerful religious revival broke out in Aberffraw, as in many other places in the county. It started in Bethel in these districts, but spread from region to region, and came to Aberffraw with great power, and many were added to the church of every age. At this time the Llangefni Association was to be held, and all from Aberffraw went to Llangefni; they gathered together in the chapel and started out from there as one company; and by the time they reached Bethel the crowd was so big that it filled the road, and a prayer-meeting was held in the middle of the main road. Llangefni was a wonderful place in this Association—the preachers and the hearers full of the heavenly fire. The island was baptised with the Holy Spirit, and with spiritual fire.’ (Pritchard, Methodistiaeth Môn, p.153)
‘The latter [John Hughes, Pen-y-bryn] became a member at Aberffraw in the time of the revival we referred to. His conversion to God in repentance was very clear, and his soul enjoyed rejoicing in the gospel to the end of his days.’ (Pritchard, Methodistiaeth Môn, p.154)
Llanerchymedd. ‘In the year 1820 [1822?] a lovely and powerful revival broke out. The hand of the Lord was with the ministry. At this time 80 members were added to the church. And though there was not a revival like the one above, yet there is reason to believe that the church in this place was not childless.’ (MC ii. 565)
Llangristiolus: ‘In the year 1822 Llangristiolus, like other places in Anglesey, had a powerful religious revival. This year was one of the “years of the right hand of the most High” in Anglesey. In this revival our dear brother Hugh Hughes, Cefn mawr, became a Methodist, and a true Christian. He and his wife, the one from his calling, and the other from home, both, unaware of the other, came to the church meeting. In 1836 he was chosen as elder.” (Pritchard, Methodistiaeth Môn, p.158)
This information was kindly provided by Geraint Jones
It is difficult to know which building was involved with the 1822 revival, but it can be seen from the plaque the there have been several revivals here and that a new chapel was built as a result of the 1822 revival.