Dictionary of Welsh Biography

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JONES , ABEL ( Bardd Crwst ; 1830 - 1901 ), ballad writer and strolling ballad singer ;

b. at Llanrwst , son of Abel Jones , ‘ carrier ,’ and of his wife Jane — both d., aged 74, in 1876 ; his brother William (d. 1893 ) was also a ‘character.’ Abel was a one-eyed man; there is a portrait of him in Cymru (O.M.E.) , xxvii, 173. He is known to have been singing at least as early as 1864 , and Elfyn ( R.O. Hughes , q.v.) heard him singing at Abergele in the early part of 1901 . At one period he lived at Mold , ‘in a court off the High-Street ,’ and Ellis Edwards (q.v) recounts how he would drop into Daniel Owen (q.v.) the novelist 's shop for a chat. He travelled throughout Wales — several of his ballads (of which we have seventy-one) are concerned with events in South Wales . He has been called ‘ the prince of ballad-singers ,’ and when we consider how recent were his activities (many who are still alive have heard him) we may regard him as being in a sense a historical figure in Welsh social life — the last of the ‘great’ balladists . He d. in the workhouse at Llanrwst in 1901 , ‘aged 71,’ and was buried 22 June .


  • Frequent allusions in Cymru (O.M.E.) , e.g. xxii, 30, xxvii, 173, et alibi , xxviii, 303, xlix, 41;
  • D. Samuel 's preface to Cerddi Cymru casgliad o ganeuon Cymreig, hen a diweddar (Caernarfon) ;
  • B. B. Thomas , Baledi Morgannwg (1951) (ballad xxxi); list of his ballads in Journal of the Welsh Bibliographical Society , vii, 64-70, viii, 104;
  • register of S. Mary's, Llanrwst (by the kindness of the rector);
  • information from Mr. A. Morley Jones , Llanrwst.


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

Published date: 1959