Dictionary of Welsh Biography


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CHARLES , EDWARD ( 1757 - 1828 ), writer , whose pseudonym was Siamas Gwynedd .

He was b. at Clocaenog, Denbs. — christened there 23 Sept. 1757 — son of Edward ( yeoman ) and Margaret Charles . Hardly anything is known of his early life; it is said that he was schooled by David Ellis , curate of Derwen , and was afterwards apprenticed at Ruthin ( Jenkins , Thomas Charles , ii, 390). In 1789 at latest he was working in a draper's shop in London . On 5 April 1790 he was elected member of the Gwyneddigion Society ; he was its secretary in 1796 and its official ‘bard’ in 1800 and 1810 . As a poet , he is of little importance; but he was a copyist of manuscripts for Owain Myfyr ( Owen Jones ) in 1803-4 , and further made a collection of letters (today most of them either at the British Museum or at Cardiff Free Library ) which are of the utmost value to researchers on the history of London Welshmen and of their societies. Better known are his controversial writings. Though he was one of the closest friends of John Jones , Glan-y-gors , he agreed not at all with the latter's political opinions, and in the Geirgrawn , edited by David Davies of Holywell , in 1796 he and others attacked John Jones 's Seren tan Gwmmwl . Fiercer still was his hatred of Methodism . In 1793 he had attacked it (though without specifically naming it) in the Cylchgrawn edited by Morgan John Rhys , and in 1797 he published a pamphlet, Epistolau Cymraeg at y Cymry , against it. Several of his friends, in London and in Wales , disapproved of this work, and in 1806 there appeared Amddiffyniad i'r Methodistiaid , by Thomas Roberts of Llwyn'rhudol , under the pseudonym Arvonius . Charles was a lively and bitter critic, in a far too florid style. He served perhaps as model for Brutus ( David Owen ) ; and it is possible that the nickname ‘Jacks,’ which Brutus applied to the uncouth exhorters of his day, was suggested to him by the ‘ Jack-o'-Lantern ’ of Edward Charles . Charles d. in 1828 , in great poverty so it is said.

Sources:

  • Leathart , Origin and Progress of the Gwyneddigion Society of London , 1831 ;
  • Cambrian Bibliography , Llanidloes, 1869 , under 1799 , 35;
  • D. E. Jenkins , Life of Thomas Charles , Denbigh, 1908 , ii, chap. 38;
  • J. Hubert Morgan in Y Llenor , 1931 , 25-34;
  • Y Cymmrodor , 1951 , chap. iv.

Author:

Emeritus Professor Robert Thomas Jenkins, C.B.E., D.Litt., Ll.D., F.S.A., (1881-1969), Bangor

Published date: 1959