Dictionary of Welsh Biography

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GRIFFITH , JOHN OWEN ( Ioan Arfon , 1828 - 1881 ), poet and critic ;

b. at Fronllwyd , Waun-fawr, Caerns. , son of Owen Griffith Owen , a quarryman . He learned to read at the Moriah Independent chapel Sunday school and, after attending the local day school for two years, went to work at the Dinorwic quarry . He was then 12 years of age. Huw Tegai and Caledfryn (qq.v.) encouraged him to study Welsh literature and in 1865 he won the chair at the Bethesda eisteddfod for an awdl on ‘ Adam .’ His cywyddau to ‘ Night ,’ ‘ Hope ,’ and ‘ Home ’ are his best poems. He also wrote an elegy upon Glasynys ( Owen Wynne Jones , q.v.) . His wife, Anne ( Roberts ) , came from a small farm in Waun-fawr called Ala-bawl . They had six children, the eldest being R. A. Griffith ( Elphin , q.v.) . After his marriage he went to school for six months. He then opened a grocer's shop at 23, High Street , Caernarvon , opposite the then office of the Herald Cymraeg and this shop soon became the centre of the Caernarvon literary coterie, most of whose members are noticed elsewhere in the present volume, — Llew Llwyfo and Alfardd , editors of the Herald , were regular visitors; Gwilym Alltwen , Cynddelw , John Morgan ( Cadnant ), and Y Thesbiad were frequently there; Hwfa Mon , Mynyddog , and Ceiriog would call when they happened to be in the town; while ‘ Bro Gwalia ,’ the doggerel verse-writer , received the same welcome. Ioan Arfon was accounted a considerable geologist in his day and published in 1864 a book on the subject, Traethawd Ymarferol ar Lechfeini Sir Gaernarvon . He and his friends, Alfardd ( John James Hughes , q.v.) and Gwilym Allt-wen , were members of the first committee set up by the North Wales Quarrymen's Union and attended its inaugural meeting, 21 March 1874 . Alfardd consulted him before publishing his articles attacking judge Homersham Cox and others who were anxious to ban the use of the Welsh language in the local courts. Ioan Arfon edited Barddoniaeth Cynddelw , published in 1877 , and Lloffion y Flwyddyn , a collection of poems printed in Yr Herald Cymraeg in the year 1878 . He d. 22 Nov. 1881 and was buried in Bryn-'r-odyn cemetery. The pall-bearers were Clwydfardd , Ceiriog , Llew Llwyfo (qq.v.) and Elidirfab . Daniel Owen (q.v.) wrote an elegy upon him in the Geninen , 1883 , 143.


  • Carnarvon and Denbigh Herald , 26 Nov., 3 Dec., 1881 ;
  • Y Geninen (Gwyl Dewi), 1904 , 47-51;
  • Yr Eisteddfod , ii, 267.


Griffith Thomas Roberts, M.A., Llanrug

Published date: 1959