Dictionary of Welsh Biography


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ELIAS , WILLIAM ( 1708 - 1787 ), poet .

According to David Thomas ( Dafydd Ddu Eryri , q.v.) , he hailed from Clynnog Elias ap Richard of Talhenbont smithy was his father, says J. E. Griffith ( Pedigrees ). He is said to have started life as a shoemaker , and the list of subscribers to the Diddanwch Teuluaidd , 1763 , and an occasional note in the manuscripts (e.g. Wynnstay MSS. 7, 105, 131, etc.), confirm this. Later, he became a farmer and land agent to the Wynns of Glynllifon . He m. Ann Williams , 19 Jan. 1730 , as is shown by a letter in Wynnstay MS 7 , and ten of his children are mentioned in the pedigrees, among them the ‘ William Elias junior ’ whose name is found in Wynnstay MS. 7 and also in the Diddanwch Teuluaidd . He moved to Plas-y-glyn , Llanfwrog , Anglesey , in 1774 , d. there in 1787 , and was buried at Llanfwrog 2 July , at the age of 79. Elegies upon him were written by Dafydd Ellis of Holyhead and by Twm o'r Nant . He had been taught prosody by Owen Gruffydd (q.v.) — some of the latter's manuscripts, e.g. Llyfr Madryn ( N.L.W. MS. 799 ), had passed into his possession — and the elegy (a cywydd ) upon his old master, 6 Dec. 1730 , is his principal poem. Several of his lyrics and englynion are to be found in manuscripts which formerly belonged to him — e.g. N.L.W. MSS. 799, 7892 ; Wynnstay MSS. 6, 7 . He was on friendly terms with Michael Prichard (q.v.) , and there was correspondence between him and Goronwy Owen (q.v.) . [See further the article Williams , Hugh ( 1722? - 1779 ) .]

Sources:

  • Cwrtmawr Manuscript in the National Library of Wales 554 — Myrddin Fardd's collection concerned with William Elias, including Twm o'r Nant's elegy;
  • N.L.W. Mysevin Manuscript in the National Library of Wales, Aberystwyth 1 (452) — Dafydd Ddu's note;
  • J. E. Griffith , Pedigrees of Anglesey and Carnarvonshire Families , 1914 , 253;
  • The Letters of Goronwy Owen (1723–69) , 1924 , 203-4.

Author:

Garfield Hopkin Hughes, M.A., (1912-69), Aberystwyth

Published date: 1959