Thomas Rees and ‘y Deyrnas’ / Thomas Rees a’r Deyrnas

Cymraeg
1

Thomas Rees (1869-1926) was truly influential during World War I as a pacifist in the city of Bangor and as the Editor of y Deyrnas’, a Welsh language magazine that came into existence through the Conference that was held by the Fellowship of Reconciliation in Neuadd yr Hendre, Bermo at the end of March 1916. The magazine was published monthly between October 1916 and November 1919 for the price of two pennies per copy at the outset. The Editor put his own stamp on ‘Y Deyrnas’, and reading his articles and his editorial column always makes the reader feel uncomfortable that we continue to wage wars.

The Life and Work of Thomas Rees

Thomas Rees was born on May 30, 1869 in a homestead in the parish of Llanfyrnach near Crymych in North Pembrokeshire to Martha Rees and James Thomas. As they were not married, the baby was sent to live with Benni and Mati Davies, Waunfelen on the foothills of Frenni Fawr, where he grew up in a loving family. Two other children were born In the same area and during the same period who became pacifists, namely T. E.Nicholas (Niclas y Glais) and D.J.Davies. The three of them eventually became Ministers with the Welsh Congregationalists, a denomination that nurtured a host of pacifists.

Education:
Thomas Rees left school at the age of thirteen and went to work in the farming industry. He stayed in this job for five years, then went to work as a miner in the Aberdare area. There he came under the influence of the Rev. J.Grawys Jones, who was a minister in Trecynon, and a native of Llanfyrnach. The Minister saw that the young man was intelligent, and advised him to start preaching the Gospel in 1880 and to go for training in Carmarthenshire where he did well academically. He moved to study at the University of Wales Cardiff and Mansfield College, Oxford, and was appointed to Brecon Memorial College in 1899. From there he was called in 1907 to become the Head of Bala College – Bangor, another College for students of the Congregational Denomination.

The Great War and Pacifism:

He achieved his greatest works in Bangor during the Great War. He stood his ground firmly as a pacifist in the constituency of David Lloyd George who was promoting the War as Minister of the Crown and from 1916 as the British Prime Minister. Thomas Rees angered people who supported the war, which were the majority. He lost most of his students, someone spat in his face in the town, and he was thrown out of Bangor Golf Club. There were articles in the press every week asking people to consider the facts and to condemn war and the attitudes of any of his fellow Christians. He believed sincerely that the Christian churches and denominations across Wales had betrayed the evidence of pacifism and the Prince of Peace, Jesus Christ. He became the leader of the Bangor and Bethesda Branch of the Fellowship of Reconciliation (FOR) and travelled across Wales to address meetings against the war.

Y Deyrnas’:

These days, we associate the name Thomas Rees primarily with the magazine Y Deyrnas’. The first edition arrived from the printers in Bangor in Oct. 1916. Thomas Rees continued to be responsible for the magazine until the last edition in November 1919, and he was not only the editor, but he wrote also – consistent and detailed work.

By catching a glimpse of the contributors to the magazine and seeing the nature of the contributions, one can understand why it would be a thorn in the side of the authorities. Amongst the contributors were prominent pacifists such as George M. Ll. Davies, a conscientious objector and T.E. Niclas, a pacifist, poet and a radical minister. The blind preacher from Pwllheli, J.Puleston Jones, sent occasional essays describing many residents of that town as people who were drunk on warfare. The Professor of Welsh at Aberystwyth University, T Gwynn Jones, contributed one or two poems on the futility of warfare. Thomas Rees condemned the National Eisteddfod for being in favor of the war. At the National Eisteddfod in Aberystwyth in 1916 he said:
Molwch yr Arglwydd a lladdwch y Germans yw arwyddair newydd yr Eisteddfod Genedlaethol. Gwnaed elw o £430 o’r Gymanfa Ganu yn Aberystwyth a rhennir yr arian rhwng gwahanol gronfeydd rhyfel’’. [‘Praise the Lord and kill the Germans is the new motto of the National Eisteddfod. A Cymanfa Ganu in Aberystwyth made £430, a sum that was shared beween different war funds.’]

In the National Eisteddfod the following year in Birkenhead, the Chair was won by Ellis Evans (Hedd Wyn), a poet from Trawsfynydd, who was killed in the battle of Paschendaele on 31 July 1917. In response the editor of ‘Y Deyrnas’ expressed huge disappointment:

‘’Drych o dristwch oedd Cadair Ddu Eisteddfod Birkenhead. Gwag oedd y gadair am fod Ellis Evans a’i henillasai yn gorwedd yn fud mewn estron dir ‘’.

[‘The Black Chair of Birkenhead Eisteddfod radiated sadness. The chair was empty because the winner, Ellis Evans, lay silently in foreign fields.’]

Perhaps the greatest tribute paid to Thomas Rees for his supervision of ‘Y Deyrnas’ was from the poet and scholar W.J. Griffith who was a member of the British Navy during the war. He said:

‘Mi ddysgais ei garu cyn imi erioed ei weled, oherwydd derbyn Y Deyrnas pan oeddwn mewn gwlad bell amser rhyfel; ac yr wyf yn credu hyd heddiw mai’r deyrnas honno fu un o’r achosion cryfaf na chollodd Cymru ei henaid yn hollol yn nydd y gwallgofrwydd mawr’.

[‘I learnt to love him before I ever met him, because I received Y Deyrnas when I was abroad during the war; and until this day I believe that that paper was one of the main reasons why Wales didn’t completely lose her soul during a time of huge madness.’]

Professor Dr D.Ben Rees

Thomas Rees a’r Deyrnas

1Bu Thomas Rees (1869-1926) yn ddylanwadol go iawn yn ystod y Rhyfel Byd Cyntaf fel Heddychwr cadarn yn ninas Bangor ac fel Golygydd ‘y Deyrnas’, cylchgrawn Cymraeg a ddaeth i fodolaeth trwy ‘r Gynhadledd a gynhaliwyd gan Gymdeithas y Cymod yn Neuadd yr Hendre, Bermo ar ddiwedd mis Mawrth 1916. Ymddangosodd y cylchgrawn yn fisol rhwng Hydref 1916 a Thachwedd 1919 am y gost o ddwy geiniog y copi ar y cychwyn. Gosododd y Golygydd ei stamp ei hun ar ‘Y Deyrnas’ ac mae darllen ei erthyglau a’i golofn olygyddol yn peri o hyd i’r darllenydd deimlo yn anghysurus ein bod yn dal i ryfela.

Bywyd a Gwaith Thomas Rees
Ganwyd Thomas Rees ar 30 Mai, 1869 mewn tyddyn ym mhlwyf Llanfyrnach ger Crymych yng Ngogledd Sir Benfro i Martha Rees a James Thomas. Gan nad oedd y ddau yn briod trosglwyddwyd y baban i Benni a Mati Davies, Waunfelen ar odre’r Frenni Fawr, ac yno y’i magwyd yn annwyl. Yn yr un cylch a’r un cyfnod y ganwyd dau blentyn arall a ddaeth yn heddychwyr, sef T,E.Nicholas (Niclas y Glais’) a D.J.Davies. Aeth y tri ohonynt yn y diwedd yn Weinidogion gyda’r Annibynwyr Cymraeg , enwad a fagodd lu o heddychwyr.
Addysg:
Gadawodd Thomas Rees yr ysgol yn dair ar ddeg oed a mynd i weithio ym myd ffermio. Arhosodd yn y gwaith hwn am bum mlynedd, wedyn aeth i gylch Aberdâr i weithio fel glöwr. Yno daeth o dan ddylanwad y Parchedig J.Grawys Jones, gweinidog yn Nhrecynon ac yn enedigol fel Rees o Lanfyrnach. Gwelodd y Gweinidog fod y gŵr ifanc yn alluog, a chynghorodd ef i ddechrau pregethu’r Efengyl ym 1880 a mynd am hyfforddiant i Sir Gaerfyrddin lle y gwnaeth yn dda yn academaidd. Symudodd i astudio i Brifysgol Cymru Caerdydd, Coleg Mansfield, Rhydychen a’i benodi i Goleg Coffa yn Aberhonddu ym 1899. Oddi yno, galwyd ef ym 1907 i fod yn Brifathro Coleg Bala – Bangor, Coleg arall ar gyfer myfyrwyr enwad yr Annibynwyr .

Y Rhyfel Mawr a Heddychiaeth:
Gwnaeth ei waith mawr ym Mangor yn y Rhyfel Mawr. Safodd yn gadarn fel Heddychwr yn etholaeth David Lloyd George a oedd yn hyrwyddo y Rhyfel fel Gweinidog y Goron ac o 1916 fel Prif Weinidog Prydain. Cythruddodd Thomas Rees bobl oedd o blaid y Rhyfel, sef y mwyafrif llethol. Collodd rhan helaeth o’i fyfyrwyr, poerid yn ei wyneb gan rai yn y dref, a thaflwyd ef allan o Glwb Golff Bangor. Ysgrifennodd i’r Wasg o wythnos i wythnos yn galw pobl i ystyried y ffeithiau ac i gondemnio Rhyfel ag agweddau nifer fawr o’i gyd Gristnogion. Credai yn ddidwyll fod yr eglwysi a’r enwadau Cristnogol ledled Cymru wedi bradychu’r dystiolaeth heddychol a Thywysog Tangnefedd, sef Iesu Grist. Daeth yn arweinydd Cangen Bangor a Bethesda o Gymdeithas y Cymod (FOR) ac fe deithiodd ledled Cymru i annerch cyfarfodydd yn erbyn y Rhyfel.

‘Y Deyrnas’:
Erbyn hyn cysylltwn enw Thomas Rees yn bennaf gyda’r cylchgrawn ‘Y Deyrnas’. Daeth y rhifyn cyntaf o’r argraffwyr ym Mangor ym mis Hydref 1916. Daliodd Thomas Rees i ofalu amdano hyd y rhifyn olaf yn Nhachwedd 1919, ac nid golygu yn unig a wnaeth ond ysgrifennu ei hun – gwaith cyson a manwl.

Wrth gael cipolwg ar y rhai a gyfrannodd i’r cylchgrawn a gweld natur y cyfraniadau, gellir deall pam y byddai’n ddraenen yn ystlys yr awdurdodau. Ymhlith y cyfranwyr yr oedd heddychwyr amlwg megis George M. Ll. Davies, gwrthwynebydd cydwybodol a T.E. Niclas, heddychwr, bardd a gweinidog radical. Anfonodd y pregethwr dall o Bwllheli J.Puleston Jones ambell i ysgrif gan ddisgrifio llawer o drigolion y dref honno fel pobl wedi meddwi ar Ryfela. Cyfrannodd Athro Cymraeg Coleg y Brifysgol Aberystwyth T,Gwynn Jones ambell i gerdd ar ffolineb rhyfela. Condemniodd Thomas Rees yr Eisteddfod Genedlaethol am fod o blaid y rhyfel. Am Eisteddfod Genedlaethol Aberystwyth a gynhaliwyd ym 1916 meddai:
‘Molwch yr Arglwydd a lladdwch y Germans yw arwyddair newydd yr Eisteddfod Genedlaethol. Gwnaed elw o £430 o’r Gymanfa Ganu yn Aberystwyth a rhennir yr arian rhwng gwahanol gronfeydd rhyfel’’.
Yn yr Eisteddfod Genedlaethol y flwyddyn ganlynol ym Mhenbedw, enillwyd y Gadair gan Ellis Evans (Hedd Wyn), bardd o Drawsfynydd a laddwyd ym mrwydr Paschendaele ar 31 Gorffennaf 1917. Siom aruthrol oedd ymateb Golygydd ‘Y Deyrnas’:
‘’Drych o dristwch oedd Cadair Ddu Eisteddfod Birkenhead. Gwag oedd y gadair am fod Ellis Evans a’i henillasai yn gorwedd yn fud mewn estron dir ‘’.
Efallai mae’r deyrnged orau a gafodd Thomas Rees am ei oruchwyliaeth dros ‘Y Deyrnas’ oedd gan y bardd a’r ysgolhaig W.J. Gruffydd a oedd yn aelod o’r Llynges Brydeinig adeg y rhyfel. Dywedodd ef:
‘Mi ddysgais ei garu cyn imi erioed ei weled, oherwydd derbyn Y Deyrnas pan oeddwn mewn gwlad bell amser rhyfel; ac yr wyf yn credu hyd heddiw mai’r deyrnas honno fu un o’r achosion cryfaf na chollodd Cymru ei henaid yn hollol yn nydd y gwallgofrwydd mawr’.

Yr Athro Dr D.Ben Rees

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s