Dictionary of Welsh Biography

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EVANS , WILLIAM ( fl. 1768-1776 ), Presbyterian minister, and lexicographer .

Hardly anything is known about him (see the rather confused correspondence in Ymofynydd , 1887 , 269-70, 275-6, and 1888 , 19-20, 43-4), except that he hailed from Cefn-gwili , Llanedy, Carms. , and according to W. D. Jeremy was at Carmarthen Academy 1768-72 . At the beginning of 1776 he was minister at Sherborne , but in March he accepted a call to Moretonhampstead ; he arrived there, according to the congregation records, on 29 March, but left, owing to illness, on 12 May — ‘we paid him for seven weeks.’ In 1771 he had published at Carmarthen A New Welsh-English Dictionary , of which a 2nd ed. appeared in 1812 . Not unnaturally, it has been doubted whether a third-year student could have produced such a book, but his nephew's statement (see below) seems pretty definite proof; it is possible that Evans was already a man of mature age and previous good education before he entered the Academy . A copy of this dictionary was among the books bequeathed by Richard Morris to the Welsh Charity-school ( Add. Morris Letters , p. 808), but Morris himself nowhere speaks of the book. William Richards ( 1749 - 1818 ) (q.v.) used Evans 's dictionary when preparing his own — see his preface.

A nephew of William Evans 's, of the same name ( 1769 - 1847 ), son of his brother John , of Cefn-gwili , inherited the uncle's library. He was for nearly fifty years minister at Tavistock , and kept school nearby, in the house in which (according to local tradition) Sir Francis Drake was born. A letter ( 17 Oct. 1845 ) by Timothy Davis of Evesham (on whom see under Davis , David ) quotes these words from a letter written to him by Evans of Tavistock ‘your father was my father and grandfather's friend, and fellow-student of my late uncle and namesake, Revd. William Evans, author of the English and Welsh Dictionary published about eighty years ago’ (letter printed in Cymru, O.M.E. , xxviii, 223).


  • Oxford Dictionary of National Biography ;
  • Cambrian Bibliography (Llanidloes, 1869) ;
  • Cardiff Free Libraries: Catalogue of Printed Literature in the Welsh Department (1898)
  • and the above references.


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

Published date: 1959