Marmadule Matthews

Marmaduke Matthews was born in 1606 and was one of 11 children. His father was Matthew ap John, also known as Matthew John or Matthew Johnes. He adopted the English form of surname, Matthews rather than the Welsh ap Matthew.

Matthew Johnes inherited the Nydfwch Estate, which contained Llys Nini, from his father John ap William ap David Nydfwch ap Richard.

 

He matriculated from All Souls College, Oxford, 20 Feb. 1623/4 and graduated B.A. 25 Feb. 1624/5 and M.A. 5 July 1627. (Foster, Alumni Oxon) He became the Vicar of Penmaen Church, Gower. In near-by Ilston the people established the first Baptist Church in Wales close to the stream in the Ilston Valley.  

 

This "Cromwellian" church was founded in 1649 during the English Civil War under the Calvinistic leadership of John Myles (aka John Miles) (1621–1683).

“In 1663 Myles took the Ilston Book with him when he and the whole congregation emigrated to North America, where they settled in a town they named Swansea, Massachusetts. “ (115)

In the period leading up to the English Civil War, there was a growing discontent with the established church. Gower was one of the first areas where the people protested against the religious conditions. 

 

Marmaduke Matthews had puritan sympathies and spoke out against the established church and upset the Bishop of St David’s. Proceedings were begun against him in the Court of High Commission and consequently he was forced to leave Penmaen Church and flee to America.

 

 He went to MaIden in Massachusetts. New England had been colonized by the puritan Pilgrim Fathers.  Matthews obviously felt that he would be allowed to express his religious beliefs more freely there.  By 1640 Matthews was pastor at Yarmouth, New England and at Malden.

 

  However, between 1651 and 1655, Matthews is recorded as having upset the Established Church in New England. They did not like what he was preaching and ordered that he should not be ordained and fined him. "Whereas Mr. Marmaduke Matthews hath formerly and lately given offence to the magistrates, elders and many brethren in some unsafe and unsound expressions in his public teachings.” (114)

 

Matthews returned to Wales in 1654/5 at the request of Colonel Philip Jones .

 

There is a story that on returning to Wales, Marmaduke "lay low" for some time at Llys Nini. He continued to preach, his congregation met in the byre and he spoke to them through an opening in the wall of the left above the hall.

 

He became the puritan minister of St John's, Swansea but was ejected in 1662 after which he took out a licence to preach under the Act of Indulgence, describing himself as an Independent. He was the author of The Messiah Magnified (London, 1659), The Reconciling Remonstrance (London, c. 1670), and other works. (116)

 

 

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