Magic and the supernatural in eighteenth-century Wales
: the world of the Rev. Edmund Jones (1702-1793)

  • Adam Coward

    Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


    The Rev. Edmund Jones (1702-1793), the 'Old Prophet' of the Transh, Pontypool, is a fascinating character for many reasons, not least of which is his writing on apparitions, spirits, fairies, and magic in his Geographical, Historical, and Religious Account of the Parish of Aberystruth (1779) and Relation of Apparitions of Spirits in the Principality of Wales (1780).

    These works were not merely written for an antiquarian purpose, but rather present a defence of Jones's deep-seated belief in these spirits' existence. On the surface, such a belief, professed so late in the eighteenth century, may seem 'unenlightened' or atavistic, but far from it, Jones's belief was consistent with his overarching cultural worldview which was set within and influenced by the environment in which he lived.

    This study examines that environment in an attempt to understand the contexts and formation of Jones beliefs and writings. It begins by examining the socio-economic changes occurring in eighteenth-century north-western Monmouthshire, focusing on changes in transport and communication, industry and social composition, literacy and the availability of printed word, the medical industry, and systems of charity and welfare; and the impact of these different social elements on the way in which the supernatural was conceptualized in local culture.

    The second section focuses on Jones's role as a religious figure involved in the eighteenth-century religious Revival and the state of religion in the area before turning to Jones's theology and how this impacted on his conceptualization of spirits and their interaction with the mundane realm. The study then turns to the intellectual environment in which Jones wrote and how his works fit with contemporary intellectual trends.

    Finally, the thesis examines the folkloric content of Jones's works and the ways in which all of the disparate environmental elements discussed throughout demonstrate themselves in his writings.
    Date of AwardApr 2012
    Original languageEnglish
    SupervisorRichard C. Allen (Supervisor)


    • Reverend Edmund Jones
    • Folklore
    • Religion
    • Spirit-world
    • Magic
    • Supernatural
    • Eighteenth Century
    • 18th Century
    • Wales: Pontypool

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