Dictionary of Welsh Biography

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PARRY , RICHARD ( Gwalchmai ; 1803 - 1897 ), Independent minister, poet, and man of letters .

Born 19 Jan. 1803 at Llannerch-y-medd . His father, Richard Parry , was a currier and leather manufacturer ; his mother ( Margaret Williams ) was from Gwalchmai , and had inherited a fairly considerable portion from her family; Thomas Parry ( 1809 - 1874 ) (q.v.) was his brother; all were Calvinistic Methodists . He received a sound elementary education at a local church school, but left at the age of 12 to be apprenticed to a saddler . He was keenly interested in books, and played a prominent part in the work of the chapel; he was elected a deacon while still a young man, and during this period began to compete in the eisteddfodau . In 1829 Caledfryn (q.v.) became Independent minister at Llannerch-y-medd , and the two became great friends; it was Caledfryn who taught him the art of cynghanedd . Before long he himself joined the Independents and began to preach in their chapels. In 1836 he was ordained as joint minister (with Robert Roberts of Treban ) at Bryngwran ; in 1838 he left to take charge of the churches at Henryd and Conway , where he remained for ten years. In 1848 he went to Llandovery , but he does not seem to have been happy there, and in 1850 he returned to North Wales and settled at Ffestiniog , where he had charge of Llan-ffestiniog and Bethania churches. Four years later he returned to Conway . His mind was now set on establishing a church at Llandudno which was rapidly developing as a sea-side resort and, with this in view, he moved there. With the support of a number of wealthy English people he succeeded in building a chapel for both English and Welsh services. He retired in 1881 , d. 7 Feb. 1897 , and was buried in Llan-rhos churchyard, Llandudno . He was one of the joint editors of Y Dysgedydd from 1853 to 1864 . He won ten eisteddfod chairs and a great number of other prizes. He published: Adgofion am John Elias , 1859 ; Enwogion Môn , 1877 ; Glan Geirionydd , with notes; Yr Adroddiadur Barddonol , 1877 ; and History of Ancient Eisteddfodau . He was one of the most prolific Welsh writers of the 19th cent., but not much of his work is of permanent value. He was a representative of his age, which regarded ‘ winning at the eisteddfod as an achievement in itself, and the proof of a poet's greatness as established by his photograph taken with a cluster of medals on his chest .’


  • Peris Williams (ed.), Cofiant a gweithiau y Parchedig Richard Parry (Gwalchmai) (Wrexham, 1899) , 1899 ;
  • Hanes Eglwysi Annibynnol Cymru , ii, 478, iii, 325, 328, 330, 594;
  • Cymru (O.M.E.) , xii, 149-52, xvi, 318, xxii, 212-15;
  • T. Parry , Hanes Llenyddiaeth Gymraeg (1944) , 267;
  • NLW MSS 5668-5772.


Reverend Richard Griffith Owen, M.A., (1890-1973), Bangor

Published date: 1959