Dictionary of Welsh Biography


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GWYNNE ( GWINNE , GWYN or WYNNE ), ROBERT (JOHNS) ( fl. 1568-1591 ), Roman Catholic missioner and writer ;

he probably came of the Bodvel family (q.v.) and may have been a son of John Wyn ap Hugh (since he subscribes one of his writings ‘ Robert Johns gwyn ’). He entered Corpus Christi College , Oxford , graduating B.A. in 1568 . About three years later he was persuaded by his neighbour Robert Owen of Plas Du, Caerns. ( see Owen of Plas Du family ), to absent himself from Anglican worship and to flee overseas. He entered Douai seminary in 1571 in company with Thomas Crowther , a Welshman from the diocese of Hereford , who graduated about the same time as Gwynne and Robert Owen . He took his B.D. and was ordained priest in 1575 , and was sent on the English mission in the following year. He made at once for his native haunts, and was sheltered in the secret chamber at Plas Du by Owen 's brother Thomas . Tales soon reached Douai of the phenomenal success of his mission, especially among the women of the neighbourhood, and of the discomfiture of the bishop ( Nicholas Robinson , q.v. ) when he tried to take proceedings against these converts. He wrote extensively in Welsh for the propagation of the faith, among other things translating Robert Parsons 's Christian Directory (its Welsh version was entitled Llyfr y Resolution ); he has been suggested as the possible author of the savage marwnad on the death of William the Silent , also attributed to Richard Gwyn (q.v.) . In 1578 , when no Romanist bishops were left at liberty in England , pope Gregory XIII conferred on him certain quasi-episcopal powers to bridge the gap. Nothing is known of his later life, except that he seems to have been alive in 1591 .

Sources:

  • Foster , Alumni Oxonienses ;
  • Wood , Athenae Oxonienses , 1813–20. Sometimes cited in the first (1691-2) edn (ed. Bliss ), i, 586;
  • Oxford Historical Society , i, 271;
  • First Douay Diary , 5, 7, 24, 100, 108, 259, 288;
  • Reports of the Historical Manuscripts Commission R.W.M. , ii, 309;
  • The Transactions of the Honourable Society of Cymmrodorion , 1936 , (177), 1937 (117-18, 128);
  • Oxford Dictionary of National Biography , xxiii, 399.

Author:

Emeritus Professor Arthur Herbert Dodd, M.A., (1891-1975), Bangor

Published date: 1959