Reverend Frederick James Taylor David

In his obituary for Fred David, Principal J.R. Lloyd Thomas wrote of “his devotion of a lifetime to St David’s College and his beloved Church.” He could also have included his devotion to the town of Lampeter, where David was elected as a member of the Borough Council and also served for a year as its major. Known affectionately as ‘Dicky Dai’ amongst his students and ‘Professor’ David in the town, he knew the college both as a former student and lecturer.

Born in April 1907 David attended Llanelli Grammar School before enrolling at St David’s College, as a Welsh Church Scholar, in 1925. He was appointed Senior Scholar (1927-28) and graduated with a first class history degree in 1928. Three years at Jesus College, Oxford followed, where David achieved a degree in both history and theology. After he was ordained he returned to St David’s College in 1931, just three years after graduating from it, as its Chaplain and Lecturer in History and Theology. He was selected as an interviewee for the student’s magazine series Dons in their Digs, where he revealed his inexperience by inviting the student to tea in his room in the Old Canterbury Building, a thing an ‘experienced Don would never have done’. The interviewer however, greatly appreciated his genial host’s generosity and they ate and smoked whilst discussing David’s favourite books, sports and his view on the college dinner.  

During his thirty-five years at the college, David became renowned for his friendliness, his concern for his students and his ability to listen to their concerns. Alumni fondly recollect tutorials taking place at David’s home, where they were liberally supplied with coffee by his wife, Beryl, who later became a warden of one of the women’s hostels in Bridge Street.  Alongside his teaching and the pastoral care to his students, David undertook a variety of roles during his career at the college. As the history department developed under the leadership of Professor Dawson, David ceased his theology lectures, concentrating solely on history. He became Precentor and took on responsibility for the College Chapel, represented the graduates on the College Council, became Assistant Bursar in 1958 and was involved with St David’s Toc H Society and the college’s Missionary Society. 

From 1948 until his retirement in 1966, David was instrumental in the revival of the Lampeter Society. He had been one of three staff members who were also graduates (along with Professor Morris and Revd. W.H. Harris), who had drawn up its constitution in 1936. He undertook the position of Secretary in 1948 and edited the annual Bulletin, which kept former graduates informed about college life, often writing its content almost single-handedly. 

During the Second World War David left the safety of college life, undertaking wartime service with the Royal Army Chaplains Department (RACD). He served in India with the 14th Army in Burma, which despite being the largest Commonwealth Army during the Second World War, is often referred to as the ‘Forgotten Army’. David devoted time to the local British Legion upon his return to college life, also supporting the Cardiganshire Cadet Force, who appointed him as the Cadet County Commander. Despite these commitments and his teaching responsibilities, David became involved with local politics and in 1956 became a councillor on the Lampeter Borough Council. His installation as mayor in 1962 was celebrated by his students who, carrying David seated on a chair on their shoulders, processed through the town, much to his enjoyment. 

After thirty-five years at St David’s College, David was forced to retire in 1966 following a stroke. He died three years later aged sixty-two and was buried in St Peter’s churchyard. His legacy to the college was encapsulated by Principal J.R. Lloyd Thomas, “Generations of Lampeter students – whom he never forgot – and many colleagues and a host of friends will not easily forget his cheerful concern and friendliness, and his devotion of a lifetime to St David’s College and his beloved Church.” 

Sources: 

Brown, R. (2018/19). Frederick James Taylor David. The Link. LXXIII, 28-29. 

https://www.uwtsd.ac.uk/media/uwtsd-website/content-assets/documents/lampeter-society-/the-link-winter-feb19.pdf   

By Our Special Correspondent, ‘Dons in their Digs’, St David’s College Magazine, 1933, Vol. XII, No.4, 137-138 

Price, D.T.W. (1990). A History Of Saint David’s University College Lampeter. Volume Two: 1898-1971. Cardiff University of Wales Press  

Brown, R. (2020). A Lampeter Student 1960-1963.