Dictionary of Welsh Biography

A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z

BLACKWELL , HENRY ( 1851 - 1928 ), bookbinder and bookseller, bibliographer and biographer .

Born 2 Aug. 1851, the son of Richard Blackwell , of Northop, Flints. , and Arabella ( neé Jones ) , of Rhosesmor, Flints . His father is probably the Richard Blackwell of Liverpool who is described in a Liverpool directory of that year ( 1851 ) as a bookbinder with an address at 10 Chester Street , Toxteth Park . In 1873 the name of Henry Blackwell , who can safely be identified as Richard 's son, appears in the Liverpool directory as a bookbinder , his address being 8 Haliburton Street , Toxteth Park , with a shop at Chatham Buildings , 25 South John Street . Of Henry 's education little is known except that he attended S. Paul's School , Liverpool .

Blackwell went to New York in Sept. 1877 ; in Y Wasg ( Pittsburg ) for 21 May 1886 , he is described as having the supervision of a large bindery .

Blackwell played a prominent part in the Welsh-American life of his adopted country. He was a life-member of the S. Davids Society of the State of New York , a life-member of the Virginia Historical Society , one of the founders of the Ex-Libris Society , Washington , a vice-president and governor of the American Society , 1912 , a member of the Welsh Society of Philadelphia , and a member of a committee formed in 1890 to found a chair of Celtic at Marietta College . He was secretary of the eisteddfod held in New York in Feb. 1886 ; at this eisteddfod he won the prize for a bibliography of Welsh books and Welsh authors in America . He was also secretary of the New York eisteddfod of 1888 . In Britain he was a member of the Hon. Society of Cymmrodorion and of the Welsh Bibliographical Society . He visited Wales in 1911 for the national eisteddfod held at Carmarthen .

Blackwell 's printed literary and bibliographical work appears mainly in journals. In Jan. 1914 he began to publish Cambrian Gleanings: a monthly Magazine , edited by himself at University Place and Tenth Street , New York . This survived only until the Sept. number. The May issue has a list of ‘ Printers of books in Welsh in the United States .’ He had previously contributed to such British and American newspapers and journals as Oswestry Advertizer , Jan. 1890 (‘ Catalogues of Welsh MSS. ’), and Aug. 1891 (‘ A Collection of Welsh Travels ’) (both were afterwards reprinted in Bye-Gones ), Red Dragon , Old Welsh Chips , 1888 (‘ Bibliography of local and county Histories relating to Wales and Monmouth ’, and ‘ List of Bibles and Testaments in the Welsh Language published in the United States ’), Y Drych , The Druid , The Cambrian , 1882 , and 1884 (a catalogue of his library of books in the English language relating to Wales and the Welsh ), and Old Brecknock Chips , 1886 (‘ Brecknockshire authors and books printed in Brecknockshire ’). He had proposed to issue in 1886 an America n edition of Jane Williams : A History of Wales …( London , 1869 ); another appeal for subscribers appeared in 1889 .

Blackwell 's bibliography, when it was awarded the prize at the 1886 New York eisteddfod , contained 469 titles. Writing twenty-three years later the compiler said: ‘I have in manuscript a list of over one thousand titles on the same topic.’ This manuscript ( N.L.W. MS. 9278 ) (including items added from time to time) was published by the National Library of Wales in 1942 under the title A Bibliography of Welsh Americana .

The greater part of Blackwell 's bibliographical and biographical work is, however, unpublished. The following manuscripts are in the National Library of Wales : ( a ) ‘ A Dictionary of Welsh Biography ,’ forming twenty-seven volumes; ( b ) ‘ Cambrian National Bibliography ,’ in five volumes, commenced in 1882 but discontinued in 1896 ; ( c ) ‘ A Bibliography of Welsh Bibliography ,’ in two volumes; ( d ) ‘ Rhestr o Ffugenwau Cymry ’; this contains over 4,000 bardic and other pseudonymous names arranged alphabetically. At one time Blackwell possessed what was probably the most extensive library in America relating to Wales ; he also issued catalogues of books for sale, e.g. in 1886 , 1887 , 1888 , 1889 , 1891 , 1904 , and 1908 .

Blackwell had m. Jennie H. Davies . He d. in New York 28 Jan. 1928 .


  • Who's who in Wales , 1921 ed.;
  • Cambrian Gleanings , 1914 ;
  • A Bibliography of Welsh Americana (NLW MS 9278) (Aberystwyth, 1942) ;
  • Gore's directory for Liverpool and its environs for 1851, 1873, and 1878;
  • NLW MSS 4565-70, 4861, 4925-31, 5595, 5932, 5940, 9251-77;
  • newspapers and journals cited above;
  • portrait in Troy Daily Times , 21 March 1891 .


Sir William Llewelyn Davies, M.A., LL.D., F.S.A. (1887-1952), Aberystwyth

Published date: 1959