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The story of one of the deacon of Capel Llwyn-yr-hwrdd, Tegryn, in north Pembrokeshire, recounts that it was long overdue for the service to begin even though the guest preacher had not arrived. Thereupon a young boy sitting beside him rose to his feet and made himself known that he was the messenger that morning.


The audience was captivated by the ability of the boy who had not yet celebrated his 14th birthday. Elfed passed his trial as a preacher with distinction. The speculation among the worshipers on the way home was to what heights the young man would climb.


The congregation of one of Treorchy's chapels had a similar response at the end of the year as everyone marvelled at the ability of the weak and frail boy in the pulpit. He had traveled to the Rhondda Valley to stay with one of his mother's brothers who was a tailor in the mining village.


Elfed had already had some schooling in Newcastle Emlyn under Timothy Elias. But the most important influence of the teenage years was the Prayer Meetings he attended with his father in the local households.


By then the family had moved to the smallholding of Penlanchwilor - Elfed's fourth home since his birth in The Gangell - and the nest of children was still growing. The family lived for a time in Clunbach Isaf and then in Pant-y-waun where Anna Lewis kept a shop.


His father, James Lewis, was orphaned at the age of seven and had to fend for himself as a small servant on the farm of one of his relatives in Penygraig. His grandfather, David Lewis, had a reputation for being godly and a book lover. If he had his way he would have entered the ministry.


His mother, Anna, was one of ten children and her father, John Davies, a tailor, and the conductor in his chapel. Elfed inherited his talents from both sides of the family. Like his tailor's grandfather, Elfed was short-sighted and wore glasses from an early age.

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