Dictionary of Welsh Biography


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PARRY , HUMPHREY ( c. 1772 - 1809 ), schoolmaster, member of the Gwyneddigion and Cymreigyddion Societies of London ;

b. about 1772 at Cwm-mawr , in Clynnog-fawr parish, Caerns. He went up to London to be a lawyer's clerk , but afterwards became assistant in the Brewers’ Company's grammar school at Sadler's Wells , under David Davies . On Davies 's death ( 1797 ), Parry opened a private school at Hackney ; it seems to have been successful, for we find him in 1806 speaking of spending £700 on enlarging the premises. He was a member of the Gwyneddigion ( vice-president 1807 , president 1808 ) and of the Cymreigyddion . When in 1804 the periodical Y Greal was started by these societies, he was one of the committee of four placed in charge — W. O. Pughe and Thomas Jones ( Bardd Cloff ) (qq.v.), representing the Gwyneddigion , Parry and John Jones ( Glan-y-gors , q.v.) the Cymreigyddion (correct the error on this point in Cymm. , 1951 , 121), though all four were members of both. There is every indication that Parry was the leader of opposition to Owain Myfyr and Pughe at Gwyneddigion meetings; he felt that Pughe (on the strength of Owain Myfyr 's pocket, as he puts it) was getting too much of his own way — insisting on printing the Greal in his own peculiar orthography, excluding from it anything that was not in accord with his own views, and filling it with matter too ‘antique’ to suit the common reader. All this is set forth in a long letter ( Sept. 1806 ) to Dafydd Ddu Eryri ( David Thomas , 1759 - 1822 , q.v.) — the letter shows, by the way, that Parry 's ideas on Welsh grammar were quite as fanciful as Pughe 's. He wished to see a more ‘popular’ Welsh periodical, published at Caernarvon ; and when Dafydd Ddu began Yr Eurgrawn ( 1807 ), Parry printed in the second number ( 1808 ) of that short-lived periodical the first part (dated ‘ Clynnog , July 1807 ’) of an article on Welsh grammar. Several of Dafydd Ddu 's letters printed in Adgof uwch Anghof by Myrddin Fardd ( John Jones , 1836 - 1921 , q.v.) have references to Parry and to his intention of publishing a Welsh grammar. Leathart terms Parry a good scholar, in the classical and in the modern languages . Parry d. in April 1809 , suddenly.

Sources:

  • Leathart , Origin and Progress of the Gwyneddigion Society of London , 1831 , 44, 45, 101, 102;
  • Journal of the Welsh Bibliographical Society , iii, 135-44 (the letter mentioned above);
  • Y Cymmrodor , 1951, 97, 121 (observe the above correction).

Author:

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

Published date: 1959