Dictionary of Welsh Biography

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HUGHES , HUGH DERFEL ( 1816 - 1890 ), poet ;

b. 7 March 1816 at Melin-y-Cletwr in the parish of Llandderfel, Mer. , son of Hugh Hughes (d. 1829 ) who was the miller there until 1822 , when he moved to the village of Llandderfel . He worked on farms here and there for some years but eventually obtained employment as a weigher in the Penrhyn Quarry . He m. in 1846 and settled at his wife's home, Pen-dinas , Tre-garth , near Bangor , living there until he d. 21 May 1890 ; he was buried at Y Gelli . Hugh Derfel Hughes began to write poetry when he was still young; he also showed a fondness for the study of the history of Wales, antiquities, geology, and botany , although he had received no instruction in any one of these subjects. He travelled throughout Wales to sell his first book, Blodau'r Gân , 1844 , and wrote, in 1845 , a description of ‘dull wynebau a chyfansoddiadau’ — the physiognomy and constitution — of some well-known Welshmen whom he had met on his journey; see Y Tyddynnwr , i, 296-318. A second collection of poems, Y Gweithiwr Caniadgar , was published in 1849 , this, in accordance with the usage of the period, also contained poems by some of his friends, one carol is by his brother, Thomas Hughes , Pen-dref , Llanfyllin . He won the prize at a Llandygái literary society meeting for an essay on the antiquities of Llandygái and Llanllechid , this essay being published in 1866 ( Hynafiaethau Llandegai a Llanllechid ). Among his surviving papers is an awdl to ‘ Chwarel y Cae ’ which won for him the chair at the Bethesda national eisteddfod . His best poem is ‘ Y Cyfamod Disigl ,’ written when he was crossing the Berwyn hills with a scythe slung over his shoulder on his return from the harvest in Shropshire ; the last verse, which begins ‘ Y Gŵr a fu gynt o dan hoelion ,’ has become a part of the wealth of Welsh hymnology. His best cywydd is that called ‘ Y Bore Olaf .’ In his memoir of his father he gives also the background to his own life; see Y Traethodydd , 1946 (174-83), 1947 (177-83).


  • Personal knowledge.


Sir Ifor Williams, D.Litt., Ll.D., F.B.A., F.S.A., (1881-1965), Pontlyfni

Published date: 1959