Dictionary of Welsh Biography


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DAVIES , JOHN ( 1652 - post 1716 ), of Rhiwlas , Llansilin, Denbs. , genealogist ;

son of Edward Davies of Rhiwlas ( 20 Feb. 1618 - 14 March 1680 ) and Margaret , only daughter of William Llwyd ap Rowland of Coed-y-Rhygyn , Trawsfynydd (see Pen. MS. 145 (71) ; Powys Fadog , iv, 353; Display of Herauldry , 47). His grandfather was Dafydd ab Edward ap Dafydd ap Ieuan of Rhiwlas , and his grandmother was Gwen Gruffydd (d. 1640 ), daughter of Gruffydd ap Lewis of Golfa , Llansilin . [According to Arch. Camb. , 1888 , 51, Davies was b. 10 Oct. 1652 . His marriage has now been ascertained, by Mr. David Watkins in his unpublished dissertation ‘ Welsh Historiography in the 17th Cent. ’ ( 1955 ). The bishop's transcripts of Llansilin parish record, 27 May 1685 , the christening of ‘ Margaret daughter of John Davies and Margaret his wife, of Rhiwlas ’ (the child was b. 24 May 1685 and d. in 1695 ; a son, Edward , b. 9 Nov. 1683 , had d. 14 Feb. 1684 , and another daughter, Jane , was b. 11 Jan. 1688 - Pen. MS. 144, 269 ); Margaret , the wife, was buried 21 April 1719 - Mr . Watkins (from S. Asaph MS. 41 ) gives her father as Thomas Lloyd of Llanwddyn . His son's death in infancy explains why Davies 's manuscripts passed to the nephew, for whom see Arch. Camb. , loc. cit.]

Very little is known about John Davies. He traced his genealogy back to Rhiwallon , a grandson of Bleddyn ap Cynfyn (q.v.) . He was connected with the well-to-do families of the district and counted among his friends many who were interested in history, genealogy , and the science of heraldry . They included William Maurice (d. 1680 ) of Cefn-y-braich , Llansilin , antiquarian (q.v.) , Lewis Jones of Tŷ-yn-yr-Wtra and Hirddol , antiquarian , Evan Llwyd Jeffrey of Golfa Isa ( Sycharth ), poet and gentleman , and Watcyn Clywedog , bard and household companion to his grandfather. His father also was an antiquary and was the owner of Pen. MSS. 144 and 145 . In these manuscripts there are additional notes by John Davies himself. His own manuscripts are contained in four volumes now in the British Museum ( B.M. Add. MSS. 9864-7 ). These show clearly the debt which John Lewis owed to the labours of Lewis Dwnn .

In 1716 his book, A Display of Herauldry , was published by John Roderick . It is full of interesting and valuable details, especially about the families of North Wales (see Moule , Bibliotheca Heraldica , 296-7). At the request of Thomas Mostyn of Gloddaeth , John Davies copied the manuscript prepared by Lewis Dwnn giving the pedigrees and the coats of arms of the gentle families of Anglesey , Caernarvonshire , and Merioneth . At that time, the manuscript was in the possession of Lewis Owen of Peniarth ; the work was finished in 1685 and is to be found in Sir S. R. Meyrick 's collection, Heraldic Visitations , ii. John Davies and one William Hughes testified to the accuracy of Lewis Dwnn 's work.

After his death his manuscripts came into the possession of his nephew John Reynolds of Oswestry , who was the son of Jacob Reynolds of Chirk and Gwen , sister of John Davies . John Reynolds , too, was an antiquary and made extensive use of his uncle's work when preparing for the press his own book, The Scripture Genealogy , 1739 .

Author:

Emeritus Professor Evan John Jones, M.A., D.Litt., F.S.A., Swansea / Ferndale

Published date: 1959