Dictionary of Welsh Biography

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JONES , WILLIAM ELLIS ( Cawrdaf ; 1795 - 1848 ), poet and man of letters ;

b. 9 Oct. 1795 , at Tyddyn Siôn , Abererch, Caerns. Having received his education at a local school and from his father, Ellis Jones , who was himself a schoolmaster , he was in 1808 apprenticed as a printer with his cousin, Richard Jones ( 1787 - 1855 ) (q.v.) . On completing his apprenticeship he was engaged by another cousin of his, Lewis Evan Jones , at Caernarvon . There he came to know Dafydd Ddu Eryri and became a member of ‘ Cymdeithas yr Eryron ,’ which used to meet at Bontnewydd . In 1817 he went to London and [is said to have] joined the Gwyneddigion Society , [though Leathart does not record this]. His ability as an artist led to his accompanying a gentleman, whose identity has not been established, on a journey to the Continent , and the years 1817-19 were spent travelling in France and Italy . On his return he worked for a period as an artist at Bristol and at Bath , and then went back to Richard Jones 's printing office at Dolgelley . He was employed by Josiah T. Jones (q.v.) at Merthyr Tydfil , and accompanied him when he moved to Cowbridge and later to Carmarthen . As a member of the Wesleyan Methodist church he occasionally took preaching engagements; [at Carmarthen he was one of the leaders of the ‘ Little Wesley ’ schism]. He was enrolled as a member of several Cymreigyddion societies and wrote awdlau for eisteddfodic competitions on such subjects as ‘ A Welshman's longing for his country ,’ 1820 ; ‘ The regency of George IV ,’ 1824 ; ‘ The Druids of the Isle of Britain ,’ 1834 ; ‘ Job ,’ 1840 . His prose work, The Bard, or the Welsh Hermit , 1830 , an account of imaginary journeys to various parts of the world, written in a highly didactic vein, has often been described as the first Welsh novel, but has none of the attributes of a novel. He d. 27 March 1848 .


  • Gweithoedd Cawrdaf sef, y diweddar W. E. Jones : yn cynnwys 'Gwyddfa y bardd' a'r 'Meudwy Cymreig' (Caernarfon, 1851) , 1951 :
  • [ A History of Carmarthenshire , ii, 215;
  • A. H. Williams , Welsh Wesleyan Methodism, 1800-1858 its origins, growth and secessions (1935) , 237, 322].


Sir Thomas Parry, D.Litt., (1904-85), Bangor / Aberystwyth

Published date: 1959