Dictionary of Welsh Biography


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BERWYN , RICHARD JONES ( 1836 - 1917 ), colonist and man of letters .

Born at Glyndyfrdwy , his original surname being Jones . He went to London as a young man – he is listed as a student at Borough Road teacher training college in 1852 – and then emigrated to New York . Here he was one of the two who accepted the invitation of Michael D. Jones to emigrate to Patagonia . Returning to Wales he went out to the Welsh colony in 1865 with the first batch of emigrants. He now adopted ‘ Berwyn ’ as a surname. When Tommy Dimol ( Ceiriog 's friend) was lost on the ship Denby in 1867 , Berwyn m. his widow, and several talented sons were brought up in his home.

He was the first to hold official positions in the colony: secretary to the council , secretary to the Welsh courts , postmaster , registrar , and schoolmaster , and was also the colony's first postmaster under the Argentine Government and private secretary to the first governor , but was imprisoned in 1882-3 for organizing an agitation to secure the rights of the Welsh colonists .

In 1868 he edited and published Y Brut , a manuscript monthly. In 1878 , with the help of Thomas Pugh , a young man from Llandderfel , he published Gwerslyfr i ddysgu darllen Cymraeg (a Welsh reader). This was the first book printed in the colony and the first Welsh book to be printed in South America ; a revised and enlarged edition was published in 1881 . He continued to publish almanacs for the colony yearly until 1905 . There is an article by him, ‘ Gwib i Chili ,’ in Cymru (O.M.E.) , 1905 . His articles were signed not with his name but with the sketch of a hand. He d. on Christmas Day 1917 .

Sources:

  • The archives of The British and Foreign School Society, Brunel University, London;
  • Personal knowledge.

Author:

Rev. Richard Bryn Williams, M.A., (1902-81), Rhuthyn / Aberystwyth

Published date: 1959