Jesus College has had strong connections to Wales ever since its foundation in 1571 and new research indicates that one of the longest running links is with Llandysul in the scenic Teifi Valley of southern Ceredigion in west Wales.
Professor Simon Haslett, Short-Term Visiting Fellow, and Dr Robin Darwall-Smith, Jesus College Archivist, have pieced together an historical framework of the connections between the College and Llandysul which they are preparing for publication. Their research has been based on documents held in the College’s archive, which they have analysed in relation to published information along with some field work.
It seems that the link can be traced back to 1572, the year after the College’s foundation, with the appointment of Griffith Lloyd as its second Principal. Lloyd’s ancestral family home is in Llandysul parish, where they were a well-respected family. Indeed, Lloyd went on to serve as Principal until his death in 1586 and he became the first benefactor of the College.
Other significant early connections include the appointment of Jenkin Lloyd from Llandysul as College Bursar in 1650, who later went on to become a Member of Parliament for Cardiganshire. But in 1680 the relationship between the College and Llandysul was formalised through the purchase and granting of the patronage of Llandysul to the College by Sir Leoline Jenkins, a former College Principal and another significant benefactor.
The original Indenture (see below) of 2nd July 1680 still exists in the College archive and details the transfer of the patronage of Llandysul to the College for the benefit of its Principal, Fellows and Scholars. Indeed, from then onwards most of the sitting Principals of Jesus College also became the Rector of Llandysul. This continued until the Welsh Church Act ultimately brought the patronage to an end, after 264 years, with Principal Alfred Ernest William Hazel ending his tenure as the final Jesus-appointed Rector of Llandysul in 1944.
By the mid-nineteenth century, Llandysul was one of 20 such patronages held by the College in England and Wales. From such arrangements, the College clearly benefitted from tithe income, but there is evidence that the College also made contributions to Llandysul; for example, in funding the restoration of the church chancel in 1868 and the gift of a silver paten alms dish presented to Llandysul Church on Whit Sunday in 1860 by the then Jesus Principal Charles Williams.
Although the formal relationship ended in 1944, the archives document that the College made a financial contribution to the Llandysul Church Fund in the 1980s, and Professor Haslett himself is a resident of Llandysul and so provides a twenty-first century link. Further research is planned to better understand the relationship in general and to explore educational aspects in particular.