Dictionary of Welsh Biography

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GRIFFITH , MOSES ( 1747 - 1819 ), draughtsman and water-colour painter ;

b. at Trygarn , Bryncroes, Caerns. , 25 March 1747 , and christened at Botwnnog church where he later attended the Free School kept by the rector , Richard Thomas . He received no further education, but in 1769 he was engaged by Thomas Pennant (q.v.) , who, discovering his aptitude as a draughtsman , employed him to illustrate his tours.

Pennant , in his Literary Life … , refers to Moses Griffith as ‘an able artist ’ who could also engrave and who was also ‘tolerable skilled in music .’ He accompanied Pennant on all his tours between 1769 and 1790 . Engravings after his drawings were used to illustrate several of Pennant 's published works, notably the accounts of his tours in Wales and Scotland . These, however, formed only a small part of Griffith 's output as many more of his water-colour drawings of churches, country houses, and other scenes in England and Wales were used to enhance a number of extra-illustrated copies of Pennant 's works.

In addition to these, Griffith was also responsible for a large number of illustrations of animals, birds, and fishes used in Pennant 's books on natural history. That he possessed also no mean skill as a portrait painter is evident from a study of the number of small scale sketches from life which are still available. After Pennant 's death in 1798 Griffith was employed by his son David Pennant , and he executed a group of about 200 water-colours of Welsh views for him between 1805 and 1813 . He was living at Whitford , near Holywell , in 1781 and m. Margaret Jones of the same parish. There were two children of the marriage. A letter in The Gentleman's Magazine for Dec. 1809 from Griffith shows that he then resided at Wibnant near Holyhead ; he d. there 11 Nov. 1819 , and was buried at Whitford , 15 Nov. 1819 .

The National Library of Wales possesses a large number of his water-colours of Welsh scenes, churches, country houses, and portraits , including two self-portraits , as well as several extra-illustrated volumes of Pennant 's works, containing in all several hundred original sketches and drawings by Griffith . The National Museum of Wales also possesses a collection of his water-colours and his work is to be found in the British Museum and the Victoria and Albert Museum .


  • Country life the journal for all interested in country life and country pursuits , 2 July 1938 ;
  • Walker's Monthly , Aug. 1938 ;
  • The Gentleman's Magazine , Dec. 1809 ;
  • The National Library of Wales Journal , i;
  • Annual Report of the National Library of Wales (Aberystwyth) , 1938 .


Megan Ellis, (1906-2001), Aberystwyth

Published date: 1959