Christmas Evans' School (1783)

Christmas Evans was born at Ysgarwen, near Tre-groes, in the parish of Llandysul, Cardiganshire, on Christmas Day 1766. His father was a poor shoemaker who died when Christmas was nine. This left the family in dire poverty, but his mother’s brother took Christmas to work on his farm in Bwlchog, Llanfihangel-ar-Arth. His stayed there for six years under the care of his cruel, drunkard uncle. At the age of seventeen he could not read a word and he had had no one to guide him into living a moral or godly life. Probably as a result of associating with poor, brutal boys like himself he had a series of accidents, any one of which might have killed him. He was stabbed in a quarrel, he nearly drowned and was saved with difficulty, he fell from a high tree with an open knife in his hand and a horse ran away with him down a low and narrow passage.

At about seventeen he went as a farming lad to Glancletwr, Pen-yr-allt Fawr, Gwenawlt and then Castell Hywel. While in the area there was a revival around 1784 at the Presbyterian church at Llwynrhydowain under the ministry of David Davis. Evans writes, “Under a revival which took place in the Church under the care of Mr David Davis, many young people united themselves with the people, and I amongst them…One of the fruits of the awakening was the desire for religious knowledge that fell upon us. Scarcely one person out of ten could, at this time, and in those neighbourhoods, read at all, even in the language of the country. We bought Bibles and candles, and were accustomed to meet together in the evening, in the barn of Penyralltfawr; and thus, in about one month, I was able to read the Bible in my mother tongue. I was vastly delighted with so much learning. This however did not satisfy me, but I borrowed books, and learnt a little English. Mr Davis, my pastor, understood that I thirsted for knowledge, and took me to his school, where I stayed for six months. Here I went through the Latin Grammar; but so low were my circumstances that I could stay there no longer.”