Fanny Jones nee Hughes
Visionary Talysarn shop keeper and daughter, Mother and Wife of Quarrymen-turned-Preachers
The Talysarn history page on Dyffryn Nantlle website features one story of the women of Talysarn: A translated excerpt from a book about Fanny Jones. The excerpt focuses solely on the ‘visions’ that Fanny Jones had on her death bed, and the ‘three rocks’ that comforted her in her final hour. The fact that a woman features is surprising enough. But it is rather disappointingly focused on her having ‘sacrificed herself for her men’ (the old story of women as self-sacrificing support system, important but not that interesting) and the three rocks were to do with her religion rather than a love of slate. But a bit of searching shows that her story leads to quite interesting connections…
Fanny was the daughter of quarryman Thomas Edwards (overseer at Cloddfa’r Lon Quarry), married to a quarryman (who tried his hand at owning quarries too but turned out to be a preacher) and with quarrying sons (who all turned out to be preachers)…..
Fanny married “John Jones, Talysarn” in 1829. He turned out to be ‘one of the greatest preachers in the history of Wales’, and had moved to Talysarn to find work in Chwarel Dorothea (1822 - 29). Marrying Fanny enabled him to stop working in the quarry, because ‘in true Methodist tradition’ (how come we don’t hear more about that, when talking of quarry women of the 19th Century?), Fanny opened a shop next to the chapel that sold ‘everything from tincture of rhubarb to quarrying tools’.
Fanny’s endeavours gave them the income he needed to free him to preach. He also tried his hand at joint-owning Dorothea in the 50s, (unlike the ‘great’ quarries of Dyffryn Ogwen and Dyffryn Peris, the quarries in Dyffryn Nantlle were “Like the wild-west” according to Karen Owen - there were numerous owners and much wheeling and dealing went on). After nearly dying in a quarry accident in 1852, he gave up the quarry life to follow his more rewarding career as preacher.
Fanny’s inlaws were from an ancient welsh family that included Angharad James, notable Welsh poet, harpist and farmer (1677-1749, born Gelliffrydau farm at Baladeulyn in Dyffryn Nantlle). And Angharad was friends with famous poet/scribe Margaret Davies (1700 – 1785 from Trawsfynydd, also known as Marged Dafydd). Both were part of a circle of north-western Welsh women poets who travelled to meet with each other and trade poems, and who are responsible for writing down many women poet’s work.
Fanny’s eldest son, John Lloyd Jones (1826 - 93) also become one of the chief managers of Dorothea and Penyrorsedd Quarries. And her great grandson, George M.Ll.Davies (1880 - 1949) became a famous pacifist.
Fanny died peacefully (with her visions and her rocks as company), exactly 20 years after her husband. This was impressive timing: She’d predicted, on his death bed, that she would join him within 20 years….
Story contributed by Lindsey Colbourne