Uniting the factions
Howell Harris corresponded with John Wesley and many other figures
of the Methodist Revival, and unlike many Welsh members of the
movement he was committed to union between Wesleyans, Moravians,
and the different factions within the Church of England.
Differences of emphasis and mode of expression between Daniel
Rowlands and Harris led to a confrontation at a meeting at Llanidloes
in 1751. This led to a split in the Connexion, and Harris, although
still attracting a very large personal following, was in ill
health and chose to retire from his evangelising.
Founding a new community
In 1752, with financial help from Madam Griffith of Cefnamlwch,
he laid the foundation for a new industrial community at Trefecca.
Members came slowly at first, but the recruiting travels of his
disciple Evan Moses began to attract more. Some were people of
substance who sold all they had and contributed toward the settlements
funds, while others were delinquents. (Harriss diary records
"four carnal men of Wrexham").
By the end of 1755 there were a hundred members at Trefecca and
a further fifty on other farms, carrying out over sixty trades.
Besides the hard manual work members were expected to attend
three services per day, rising at 4 am to attend the first. His
striving to make his community self-sufficient at the very least
led him to experiment with agricultural techniques, and he was
one of the instigators of the founding of the Brecknock Agricultural
Society in 1755.
In 1759, with the nation being under the apparent threat of invasion,
Harris joined the local militia, rising to the rank of captain.
For his three years in the service of the crown he travelled
throughout the area, exploiting this opportunity to preach to
During the last years of his life he was supported by the Countess
of Huntingdon, who acquired the neighbouring farm of Lower Trefecca
and established a college for the training of young men for the
Howell Harris died in 1773, and his funeral at Talgarth church
was attended by 20,000 people. Despite his massive influence
in the development of later nonconformity in Wales he died a
communicant of the Anglican church.
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