Powys Digital History Project 

Howell Harris 2
Preacher and soldier 


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 settlement’s funds, while others were delinquents. (Harris’s 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.

Military service
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 new congregations.
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 ministry.
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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