Howell Elfed Lewis
Coffa Elfed / Elfed Museum
Professor R. Tudur Jones, the foremost historian of the Welsh Congregationalists, said of Elfed that ‘he never did anyone an injustice’. This comment was probably correct. The general view of Elfed was that he could always be relied upon to be wise in all circumstances. He was never involved in any disharmony.
To be methodical and to use his time for a purpose were characteristics of his personality as he showed in his early school days. Everything he did would be well prepared. His handwriting would always be neat and legible. In his blind days he would carry a wooden stick fashioned from wood grown in Palestine.
He would not take sides in any theological dispute. He would see a grain of truth in all viewpoints in order to foster the higher morality. Elfed did not take part in the arguments regarding the significance or otherwise of the Revival. But he published a book entitled Christ among the Miners (1906), which dealt with the phenomenon and emphasised the goodness gained thereof.
Elfed was adept at conversing with people of all backgrounds. It is said that he spent half an hour conversing with George VI when he was summoned to Buckingham Palace to be installed as a Companion of Honour. It was not usual for the majority of those invited guests to spend more than five minutes in the presence of the king.
At the same time he would be happy to regale tales about characters such as Nani whom he knew in his boyhood days. She would recite a string of Bible verses and invariably conclude with the pronouncement “the sum of all that was heard is, ‘Be ye afraid of God’.” He remembered Ifan Gribyn who would encourage him as a youth in the pulpit.
Elfed would mention David Phillips, Gilfach Jestyn, who gave him his four volumes of the Writings of Dr Edward Williams, Rotherham as a present. He said that he read the essay on Equity of Divine Government and Sovereignty of Divine Grace over and over.
Elfed was also a member of the Freemasons and in his time held several positions of responsibility within the brotherhood. He was included in the Civil Pensions List in 1943. A grand Testimonial was organised in honour of Elfed in 1948 by his Welsh admirers.
It should be noted that Thomas Lewis (M.A., B.D) one of Elfed’s brothers was appointed Principal of Brecon Theological College. He taught several generations of ministerial students. One of Elfed’s nephews, the Rev Morley Lewis served as a minister in Rhondda, Crymych and Cefneithin and his sons, Elfed and Eifion, both became ordained ministers.