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The First Welsh Missionary among the Khasis

India has been part of the psyche of the Welsh since the eighteenth century. Since the days of the hymn writer William Williams Pantycelyn we have been singing of ‘the large India’, and this in the 1830s proved an inevitable call to young men in Liverpool and Wales who responded to the proclamation of the gospel in India.

The London Missionary Society reluctantly refused to support their applications, but the most stubborn of them all was Thomas Jones (1810–1849) who belonged to Berriew in Montgomeryshire and the Liverpool Welsh. He refused to budge. With the support of a nucleus of Liverpool Welsh Calvinistic Methodists they formed their own Foreign Mission in 1840 and by the end of that year Thomas and his wife Anne Jones were on their way to the Khasi Hills in Assam. By 22 June 1841 they had arrived in Cherrapunji. To Thomas Jones goes the credit for many firsts in the Khasi Hills. He began the building of an everlasting edifice of modern Khasi society through his linguistic skills, his stamina and determination. Suffering from prejudice and his own intemperate spirit his final years were spent under a cloud. His death from malaria at the early age of thirty-eight in Calcutta however was a devastating loss to the Welsh Calvinistic Methodist missionary work on the Khasi Hills.