Dictionary of Welsh Biography

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JONES , JOHN (EMLYN) ( Ioan Emlyn ; 1818 - 1873 ), Baptist minister, poet, and man of letters .

Born at Newcastle Emlyn . He was apprenticed to a watchmaker at Crickhowell (a town of which he sketched the history in Golud yr Oes , 1863 ), and while there was one of the ‘ Cymreigyddion ’ of Abergavenny ( 1838 ) and of Llangynidr . From Crickhowell he moved to Cardiff , to the staff of The Principality — there he translated parts of Gill 's Biblical commentaries.

It is not known when he began preaching — indeed, precise dates of his career are in general hard to come by; but he ministered successively at Pontypridd , Ebbw Vale , Cardiff , Merthyr Tydfil , and Llandudno , returning finally to Ebbw Vale , where he d. in Jan. 1873 , aged 55. His literary activity was considerable: he was editor of Y Bedyddiwr and of Seren Cymru at different times, brought out an enlarged edition of Hanes Prydain Fawr (by Titus Lewis ), published Tiriad y Ffrancodym Mhencaer in 1856 and Gramadeg Cerddorol in 1860 , not to speak of other books. He undertook the resumption of Y Parthsyllydd , a large-scale treatise on geography which had been begun by John Jenkins of Hengoed and Thomas Williams ( Gwilym Morgannwg ) , but failed to complete it (it was completed in 1875 by J. Spinther James ).

Two bardic chairs fell to him — at Denbigh National Eisteddfod ( 1860 ) and at a regional eisteddfod in Anglesey ( 1871 ) — and he published in 1871 a collection of awdlau submitted unsuccessfully at other eisteddfodau. But his name lives today solely on account of his poem ‘ Bedd y Dyn Tylawd ’ (‘the Poor Man's Grave’). He was given the honorary degree of LL.D. by Glasgow University in 1863 .


  • Y Gwyddoniadur Cymreig (1889-96) , 2nd ed., x, 652-3;
  • Y Traethodydd , 1903 , 434;
  • A roll of the graduates of the University of Glasgow from 31st December, 1727 to 31st December, 1897 With short biographical notes (Glasgow, 1898) , 300;
  • Y Geninen , March 1893 .


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

Published date: 1959