George M. Ll. Davies (1880–1949)

Cymraeg

George M. Ll. Davies is remembered with great reverence and respect by peace-makers in Wales, but is little known outside that small circle. And yet he had considerable influence on those around him – as a conscientious objector, social reformer, Member of Parliament, Methodist minister and conciliator. He lived in turbulent times – through two World Wars and a Depression – and struggled with how to live a life based on a belief in peace and equality.

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Origins:

       George M. Ll. Davies (1880–1949)George M. Ll. Davies was born into an affluent Liverpool Welsh family in 1880. In 1891, when George was eleven, his father went bankrupt, and he remembered all his life the judgemental attitudes of people who had formerly been friends of the family.

       Because of his father’s financial situation George could not go to university, so he got a job in a bank. At the age of twenty-six he was made manager of Martin’s Bank in Wrexham. In 1909 he joined the new Territorial Army, and enjoyed weekends training his men, preparing for the defence of Britain. One day, however, the realisation came to him that he could never kill anyone, and that indeed this was against Christ’s teachings. He resigned from his officer position, although still, officially, a private in the TA. He also left the bank, and started working for David Davies Llandinam in various social enterprises: for example, one aimed at preventing tuberculosis, and another providing planned social housing for working people.

World War I:

       When war broke out in August 1914, a new organisation was formed – the Fellowship of Reconciliation. George left Wales and went to London as Secretary to the FoR. When conscription came in in March 1916 George stood before a Tribunal and applied to be a Conscientious Objector. As an ‘absolutist’ he refused to do any work at all that would help the war effort. He was therefore required to undertake ‘alternative service’.

       As part of this service, George went to a new home in Leicestershire run by the FoR for young people who had been in trouble with the law. It was run on experimental lines: for example, when the kids broke the house rules, they were asked to make new rules – which they kept! This reflected George’s ideas of how a peaceful community could be run.

       After working there, George went to find work in the Llŷn peninsula, but a lot of people didn’t want a ‘Conshi’ working for them. Early in 1917 he found a job as a farm labourer at Uwchlawffynnon, then worked as a shepherd at Llanaelhaearn. He loved this work and was very happy. George, his wife Leslie, and their baby, Jane, lived together on the farm. George was not content to lead a ‘quiet life’, however. He believed he should tell people that peace was a better way of living than war, and took every opportunity to do so. This very public stance was bound to get him in trouble with the authorities. Eventually, George was arrested, and imprisoned as were 1,600 other ‘Conshis’.

       The prison system was cruel and inhumane. Men were kept in cells on their own. They were not allowed to speak to anyone – warder or prisoner – or even smile at them. The food – what little there was – was terrible. The same rules applied to ‘Conshis’ as to violent criminals. Some men lost their minds, and many were damaged physically or mentally for the rest of their lives. George, even though he suffered from depression all his life, seems to have survived relatively well, but there were scars.

After prison: 1920s – 1940s:

       George’s nineteen months in prison had changed him. He started travelling around Wales, addressing meetings about peace, and prison reform. He also became involved in a number of social projects, including building an outdoor swimming pool with international volunteers in Brynmawr, Blaenau Gwent, and constructing a public park in Rhosllannerchrugog near Wrexham. From 1932 until 1947, he worked with Quakers in Maes-yr-haf in the Rhondda valley, helping unemployed miners and their families.

       George was asked to become a parliamentary election candidate for the Welsh University, and in October 1923 he won the seat, standing as a Christian Pacifist. It was also in the 1920’s that he undertook some of his most high-level and risky conciliation work.   He was asked to go to Ireland and try to encourage Éamon de Valera, a militant republican leader to talk to David Lloyd George. He risked his life to do this, as the situation in Ireland at the time was volatile and violent.

George suffered from bouts of depression throughout his life, and it was in Denbigh Hospital that he died in December 1949, where he was found hanged. The impression we have is of a man who genuinely aimed to live out his values and ideals in a very imperfect world, who was distressed by his own personal shortcomings and those of society – and the consequences of these shortcomings which he witnessed all around him.

       To George, then, peace-making was all about living out our values in the world: ‘There can be no real pacifism’, he said ‘unless we have the courage and the conduct of real peace-makers.’ Whilst we may feel this stance is foolhardy, we can’t help but admire it. It places George alongside figures such as Gandhi and Martin Luther King, who paid the price for choosing non-violence.


George M. Ll. Davies (1880–1949)

Caiff George M. Ll. Davies ei gofio gyda pharchedigaeth a pharch mawr gan heddychwyr yng Nghymru, ond ychydig a wyddys amdano y tu allan i’r cylch bach hwnnw. Ac eto, roedd ganddo ddylanwad sylweddol ar y rhai hynny o’i gwmpas – fel gwrthwynebwr cydwybodol, diwygiwr cymdeithasol, Aelod Seneddol, gweinidog gyda’r Methodistiaid a chymodwr. Roedd yn byw mewn amseroedd cythryblus – trwy ddau Ryfel Byd a Dirwasgiad – ac roedd yn cael trafferth gyda sut i fyw bywyd ar sail credu mewn heddwch a chydraddoldeb.

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Gwreiddiau:

       Ganwyd George M. Ll. Davies i deulu Cymreig cefnog yn Lerpwl ym 1880. Ym 1891, pan oedd George yn un ar ddeg, aeth ei dad yn fethdalwr, a chofiodd agweddau beirniadol pobl a oedd wedi bod yn ffrindiau i’r teulu cyn hynny drwy gydol ei fywyd.

       George M. Ll. Davies (1880–1949)Oherwydd sefyllfa ariannol ei dad, ni allai George fynd i’r brifysgol, felly cafodd swydd mewn banc. Cafodd ei wneud yn rheolwr Martin’s Bank yn Wrecsam yn chwe blwydd ar hugain oed. Ym 1909, ymunodd â’r Fyddin Diriogaethol newydd, a mwynhaodd benwythnosau yn hyfforddi ei ddynion, ac yn paratoi ar gyfer amddiffyn Prydain. Un diwrnod fodd bynnag, sylweddolodd na allai fyth ladd unrhyw un ac, yn wir, bod hyn yn erbyn dysgeidiaeth Crist. Ymddiswyddodd o’i swydd fel swyddog, er yn swyddogol, roedd yn dal yn breifat yn y Fyddin Diriogaethol. Gadawodd y banc hefyd, a dechreuodd weithio i David Davies Llandinam mewn mentrau cymdeithasol amrywiol: er enghraifft, un gyda’r nod o atal twbercwlosis, ac un arall oedd yn darparu tai cymdeithasol cynlluniedig i weithwyr

Y Rhyfel Byd Cyntaf:

       Pan ddechreuodd y rhyfel ym mis Awst 1914, ffurfiwyd sefydliad newydd – Cymdeithas y Cymod. Gadawodd George Gymru ac aeth i Lundain i weithio fel Ysgrifennydd i Gymdeithas y Cymod. Pan ddaeth gorfodaeth consgripsiwn i rym ym mis Mawrth 1916, safodd George cyn Tribiwnlys a gwneud cais i fod yn Wrthwynebwr Cydwybodol. Fel ‘diamodwr’, gwrthododd wneud unrhyw waith o gwbl a fyddai’n helpu ymdrech y rhyfel. Felly, roedd yn ofynnol iddo ymgymryd â ‘gwasanaeth amgen’.

       Fel rhan o’r gwasanaeth hwn, aeth George i gartref newydd yn Swydd Gaerlŷr oedd yn cael ei redeg gan Gymdeithas y Cymod ar gyfer pobl ifanc a oedd wedi bod mewn trafferth gyda’r gyfraith. Roedd yn cael ei redeg ar linellau arbrofol: er enghraifft, pan fyddai’r plant yn torri rheolau’r tŷ, gofynnwyd iddynt wneud rheolau newydd – y cadwont atynt! Roedd hyn yn adlewyrchu syniadau George o sut y gallai cymuned heddychlon gael ei rhedeg.

       Ar ôl gweithio yno, aeth George i chwilio am waith ym Mhenrhyn Llŷn, ond nid oedd llawer o bobl eisiau ‘Conshi’ yn gweithio iddynt. Yn gynnar ym 1917, daeth o hyd i swydd fel gwas fferm yn Uwchlawffynnon, yna, bu’n gweithio fel bugail yn Llanaelhaearn. Roedd wrth ei fodd gyda’r gwaith hwn ac yn hapus iawn. Roedd George, ei wraig Leslie, a’u baban, Jane, yn byw gyda’i gilydd ar y fferm. Nid oedd George yn fodlon byw ‘bywyd tawel’, fodd bynnag. Roedd yn credu y dylai ddweud wrth bobl fod heddwch yn ffordd well o fyw na rhyfel, a manteisiodd ar bob cyfle i wneud hynny. Roedd y safiad tra chyhoeddus hwn yn sicr o beri iddo fynd i helynt gyda’r awdurdodau. Yn y pen draw, cafodd George ei arestio a’i garcharu, gyda’r 1,600 o ‘Gonshis’ eraill

       Roedd y system garchar yn greulon ac yn annynol. Cedwid dynion yn eu celloedd ar eu pen eu hunain. Doedden nhw ddim yn cael siarad gyda neb – boed gwarchodwr neu garcharor – neu hyd yn oed wenu arnynt. Roedd y bwyd – hynny oedd ohono – yn ofnadwy. Roedd yr un rheolau yn berthnasol i ‘Gonshis’ fel i droseddwyr treisgar. Collodd rhai dynion eu meddyliau, a chafodd llawer eu niweidio’n gorfforol neu’n feddyliol am weddill eu bywydau. Er y bu George yn dioddef o iselder ar hyd ei oes, mae’n ymddangos ei fod wedi goroesi yn gymharol dda, ond roedd creithiau.

Ar ôl gadael y carchar: 1920au – 1940au:

       Roedd y pedwar mis ar bymtheg a dreuliodd George yn y carchar wedi ei newid. Dechreuodd deithio o gwmpas Cymru, yn annerch cyfarfodydd am heddwch ac am ddiwygio carchardai. Dechreuodd gymryd rhan hefyd mewn nifer o brosiectau cymdeithasol, gan gynnwys adeiladu pwll nofio awyr agored gyda gwirfoddolwyr rhyngwladol ym Mrynmawr, Blaenau Gwent, ac adeiladu parc cyhoeddus yn Rhosllannerchrugog ger Wrecsam. O 1932 tan 1947, bu’n gweithio gyda Chrynwyr ym Maes-yr-haf yng Nghwm Rhondda, yn helpu glowyr di-waith a’u teuluoedd.

       Gofynnwyd i George fod yn ymgeisydd etholiadol seneddol ar gyfer Prifysgol Cymru, ac ym mis Hydref 1923, enillodd y sedd, yn sefyll fel Heddychwr Cristnogol. Hefyd, yn y 1920au, ymgymerodd â pheth o’i waith cymodi mwyaf peryglus a lefel uchel. Gofynnwyd iddo fynd i Iwerddon a cheisio annog Éamon de Valera, arweinydd gweriniaethol milwriaethus i siarad â David Lloyd George. Mentrodd ei fywyd i wneud hyn, gan fod y sefyllfa yn Iwerddon ar y pryd yn ansefydlog a threisgar.

Bu George yn dioddef o gyfnodau o iselder ar hyd ei oes, a bu farw yn Ysbyty Dinbych ym mis Rhagfyr 1949, lle daethpwyd o hyd iddo wedi’i grogi. Yr argraff sydd gennym yw o ddyn a oedd yn ddiffuant yn ceisio byw yn unol â’i werthoedd a’i ddelfrydau mewn byd amherffaith iawn, ac a oedd yn gofidio am ei ddiffygion personol ei hun a rhai cymdeithas – ac am ganlyniadau’r diffygion hyn yr oedd yn eu gweld ym mhobman o’i amgylch .

       Felly i George, pwrpas cymodi ydy byw yn unol â’n gwerthoedd yn y byd: Ni ellir cael heddychiaeth go iawn’, meddai oni bai bod gennym ddewrder ac ymddygiad gwir heddychwyr.’ Safiad byrbwyll, efallai, ond ni allwn lai na’i edmygu. Mae’n rhoi George yn yr un categori â heddywchwyr megis Gandhi a Martin Luther King, a dalodd yn ddrud am ddewis di-dreisedd.

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