Dictionary of Welsh Biography


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PRICHARD ( PRISIART ), JOHN WILLIAM ( 1749 - 1829 ), man of letters , who also called himself ‘ John Williams ’,

was b. in 1749 (apparently, judging from one of his letters, at the end of June), at Bodlew , Llanddaniel , Anglesey . He was the fifth child (the first of the second marriage) of William Prichard ( 1702 - 1773 ) (q.v.) . Some have it that he had little schooling, others that he went to school at Liverpool — considering his excellent penmanship and the range of his general knowledge, the latter seems more probable. He m. twice: (1) in 1775 , Catherine , daughter of David Roberts of Llan-dyfrydog — she d. in 1779 , leaving a daughter; (2) in 1785 , Gwen , daughter of William Owen of Crafnant near Harlech (afterwards of Fronolau , Penmorfa ) — she d. in 1797 , leaving five children. Though his father had been an Independent , Prichard was a zealous Methodist . He farmed Boteiniol in Llantrisant parish, but on the death of his first wife he removed to Plas-y-brain in Llanbedr-goch , the house which is most commonly associated with his name. A little before the end of his life, he moved again, to Chwaen-wen-uchaf in Llantrisant . He d. 5 March 1829 , and was buried at Llangwyllog .

Prichard was a most versatile man — farmer , land-surveyor , almanac-maker , country physician , country lawyer , writer of prose and verse , sketcher , map-maker , sculptor . He was well-esteemed by the magnates of Anglesey , and was particularly friendly with Paul Panton junior (q.v.) of Plas Gwyn . The only separate publication by him was Hanes Pibau'r Bugeiliaid , but some of his verse appeared in periodicals, while more remains in manuscript. University College , Bangor , has a number of his papers ( Bangor MSS. 47, 538, 1249, 2123-32, 3765-7, 5338 ) — a few diaries, some accounts, medical prescriptions, notes on the family history, copies of letters and of poetry, etc. He was a collectorBangor has several letters written by Lewis and William Morris (qq.v.) which had somehow come into Prichard 's hands (and Cardiff MS. 81 contains notes on Lewis Morris by him), and he possessed letters by Goronwy Owen . He was himself a diligent correspondent, with a large circle of men of letters: Gwallter Mechain ( N.L.W. MS. 1808, no. 6 ), William Owen Pughe , Richard Llwyd (the author of Beaumaris Bay ), Twm o'r Nant , Dewi Wyn , Robert ap Gwilym Ddu (who was a kinsman of his), Robert Roberts the almanac-maker , etc. But he was not on good terms with Dafydd Ddu Eryri , and he abominated Iolo Morganwg , to whom he attributed all W. O. Pughe 's literary lapses. He also corresponded with Thomas Charles of Bala , and with Robert Jones of Rhos-lan — the lengthy note on William Prichard in Drych yr Amseroedd is based on the son's information. Many of his letters were printed in Y Traethodydd in 1883 and 1884 (see also B.B.C.S. , ix and x). Cywyddau to Prichard , by Dewi Wyn and Robert ap Gwilym Ddu will be found in the printed volumes of their works.

Sources:

  • J. E. Griffith , Pedigrees of Anglesey and Carnarvonshire Families (1914) , 9, 154, 246, but the order and dates of Prichard's children (and of other members of the family) are not wholly consistent with those given in the Bangor Manuscripts at University College North Wales Library, Bangor or with those entered by Prichard himself in his family Bible;
  • details in the Bangor Manuscripts at University College North Wales Library, Bangor , in the printed letters, and in Y Traethodydd , 1883 (141-3), 1884 (14-8);
  • NLW MSS 1807, 4452.

Author:

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

Published date: 1959