The Venerable David Archard Williams 1796-1879
A brief history of a great intellectual and benefactor of Carmarthen.
The history of the life of David Archard Williams may almost be said to be the history of Carmarthen during most of the 19th century in that as a holder of many prominent positions both civil and ecclesiastical he was inseparably connected with the events that took place.
He was born in 1796; the son of a curate of St Peter’s and was an orphan at four. He became a scholar at the Boys Grammar School and it was from here that he was ordained into the Church of England. He became an assistant master and later headmaster of the Boys Grammar School between 1824 and 1854, the second longest serving Headmaster in the history of the school.
It is important to remember in the light of subsequent events that he did not go up to university. In 1828 he was made rural dean and the list soon becomes impressive – perpetual curate of Llanfihangel-Uwch-Gwili, incumbent of St David’s Carmarthen, rector of Merthyr, principal surrogate of the diocese (matters of probate were dealt with by the Consistitory Court until 1857) thus the position was that of a judge. He was made Chancellor of the diocese in 1857 until 1865 when he became Archdeacon of Carmarthen. Other appointments at different times included chaplain at the workhouse and asylum, editor of the Carmarthen Journal, director of the gas works, county magistrate and vice chairman of the Board of Guardians. He was also responsible for the location and formation of the Training College in Carmarthen (now known as Trinity St David’s University) instead of Swansea, the building of the Model School in St Catherine Street and the building of Christ Church in Lammas Street. Probably he would most like to be remembered for his work with regard to his beloved St David’s Church which was built primarily for Welsh speaking church goers to worship in their own language, since this carried out the idea originated by his father. The following obituary taken from the Carmarthen Journal gives a fulsome report on the funeral, and it is worth noting that in the 161 year history of St Davids Cemetery this is the only occasion at which the serving Bishop of St Davids officiated at a burial – Basil St David’s
FUNERAL OF THE VEN. ARCHDEACON WILLIAMS. From the Carmarthen Journal Wednesday 26th September 1879.
Since the funeral of the late lamented Vicar of St Peter’s, undoubtedly the largest witnessed for years back in this town, there has been no such demonstration at the grave of any inhabitant as that at the grave of the Ven. David Archard Williams on Wednesday. Although by no means so largely and well attended as was the funeral of the Rev Latimer M. Jones, still the number of persons present in Wednesday’s procession testified to the high esteem in which the late Archdeacon was held. The circumstances in which death found these two public men will probably account in some measure for the deeper grief in which the loss of their much beloved Vicar plunged the town. The Vicar was cut off untimely in the flower of his manhood, his work unfinished, while the Archdeacon died in the fullness of time, at a ripe old age, his earthly mission fully accomplished. It was rather, then, to testify their appreciation of the way in which this mission had been discharged than to express their sorrow over his grave, that the inhabitants of the town, and those from a distance, came together on Wednesday to attend the public funeral of one who had so ably filled the high position he had been called to. As arranged, those who intended to form part of the procession met in Priory-street, at 12.30, and formed four deep in the order given below. The children of the Sunday and Day Schools, under the direction of their superintendents and teachers met on the Parade at twelve o’clock, and forming four deep, passed by way of the North Parade into Priory-street. The procession marshaled, a move forward was made shortly after one o’clock, and the procession passing through King Street, Guildhall-square, and Lammas-street, proceeded around Picton’s Monument, keeping the left hand side, and on reaching St. David’s Church, halted at the south porch, and there remained until the arrival of the clergy and the body. About two o’clock, the body borne by members of St. David’s choir and congregation, left the Parsonage, preceded by the clergy in their robes, headed by the Right Rev the Lord Bishop of St. David’s, and followed by the mourning carriages containing the members of the late Archdeacon’s family and the servants of his household. On the way to the church, hymn 235 (Hymns Ancient and Modern) “O what the joy and the glory must be was sung by the members of the St. David’s and Christ Church Choirs. The body was met at the church door by the Rev N. Thomas, curate of St. David’s, and the Rev T. Jones, curate of Christ Church. After the body was taken into the church the place was quickly filled by the public, eager to catch a glimpse of the proceedings in-doors.
The service was commenced by singing the 39th Psalm, after which the Ven Archdeacon Lewis read the Lesson. A Welsh hymn, “Ymado wnaf a’r babell,” was then impressively sung, and the wreaths having been placed on the coffin by the mourners, the body was carried out by members of the Christ Church Choir and congregation, the organist playing the “Dead March” in Saul. At the grave, which we may remark was very beautifully decorated by Miss Mary Kyle; the service was read by the Lord Bishop of St. David’s. Hymn 401 (Hymns Ancient and Modern), “Now the labourer’s task is o’er,” was sung at the grave, and at the close of the service flowers were thrown into the grave by many present, after which the crowd assembled to witness the ceremony quickly dispersed. The chief mourners were Mrs. Hancocke, Mrs. Soppit, Mr and Mrs. David Williams (Millbrook) and their children, Miss Hancocke, Miss B. F. Hancocke, Mr A. Soppit and Mr F. Soppit. The pall was borne by the Ven Archdeacon Lewis, the Ven Archdeacon North. Canon Williams (Llanelly), Rev J. H. Harrison (Laugharne), Rev L. Price (Llandeilo), and Rev W. E. James, Abergwili. Before giving the order of the pro- cession a few words should be said about the different contingents of which it was made up, and about the signs of mourning displayed in the town. In the first place the Sunday and Day Schools were well represented. The Volunteers, on the other hand, were not a large body, the rifle meeting at Haverfordwest having probably something to do with the poor attendance. The staff of the Royal Carmarthen Artillery Militia, and the Clubs and Benefit Societies was present in full force. The students of the Training College numbered about sixty, while the boys of the Grammar School numbered about twenty. The inhabitants and other friends of the deceased constituted a very large, if not the largest, part of the procession. The Corporation of Carmarthen attended in almost full strength, the Mayor, in his robes of office, being at their head. The choirs of St. David’s and Christ Church considerably swelled the ranks, while the clergy in surplices numbered over fifty. The churchwardens of St. David’s and Christ Church, and women, completed the number of those present. Everywhere in the streets through which the procession passed shutters were put up and blinds drawn down, while in some instances, more especially in St. David’s parish, the shops were entirely closed. The church bells of St. Peter’s and Christ Church tolled a muffled peal, and the church of St. David’s was draped in mourning.
It should be here mentioned that among those present at the funeral were many Nonconformist ministers, including Father Carrolan, Roman Catholic priest. The order of the procession was as follows: The Sunday and Day Schools Volunteers, four deep, with music Staff of the Royal Artillery Militia Clubs and Benefit Societies (Oddfellows, Ivorites and Foresters) Students of the Training College, Boys of the Grammar School; Inhabitants and other friends of the deceased including the Mayor and Corporation of Carmarthen; Choirs of St. David’s and Christ Church Clergy in surplices Churchwardens of St. David’s and Christ Church; On the return of the procession from Picton’s Monument, the Body, borne by Members of St. David’s Church Congregation, and the Mourners, followed the Clergy. The female friends halted near the Parsonage while the Body and Mourners joined the procession. The arrangements were very satisfactorily carried out under the direction of the Churchwardens of St. David’s and Christ Church, assisted by a committee consisting of the Churchwardens of St. Peter’s, Major De Kantzow, Mr William Morris, Mr T. Mostyn Davies, Mr W. I. Rickard, and Sergeant Major Palmer, R.C.A.M.