Dictionary of Welsh Biography



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ROBERTS , JOHN ( Alaw Elwy , also called ‘ Telynor Cymru ’; 1816 - 1894 ), harpist ; b. at Rhiwlas Isaf , Llanrhaeadr , near Denbigh , the son of John Roberts , Pentrefoelas , [a ballad-singer who had been at the battle of Waterloo , and is said to have been a cousin of the almanack-maker John Roberts ( 1731 - 1806 ), (q.v.) . His mother, Sarah , was the daughter of William Wood , and the sister of Archelaus Wood — see Wood family .] He started his career in the 23rd Battalion of the Royal Welch Fusiliers where he stayed nine and a half years. He then settled at Newtown, Mont. , and remained there for the rest of his life. In 1836 he m. Eleanor Wood Jones , daughter of Jeremiah Wood Jones (see under Wood ), harpist at Gogerddan for half a century. A pupil of Richard Roberts ( 1796 - 1855 ) (q.v.) , a Caernarvon harpist , he became a noted harpist and a skilled singer of penillion to the accompaniment of the harp . He won the triple harp offered at the Abergavenny eisteddfod , 1842 , taking the chief prize in 1848 also. He also won the harp at the Cardiff eisteddfod of 1850 . He played before the queen at Portsmouth in 1834 and at Winchester (twice) in 1835 ; he also played before grand duke Constantine of Russia at Aberystwyth ( 1847 ), and the king of Belgium at Swansea in 1848 . He taught nine of his children to play the harp, the violin, and the flute , and they gave a concert before queen Victoria at Pale, Mer. , when she visited that house in 1889 . Four years previously ( 1885 ) he had given up calling himself Alaw Elwy on being invested by Gwilym Cowlyd (q.v.) as ‘ Telynor Cymru ’ in a bardic ‘gorsedd’ held on the shores of Llyn Geirionydd ( 1886 ). He d. 11 May 1894 . He was a fluent Romany -speaker.

Bibliography:

  • M. O. Jones , Bywgraffiaeth Cerddorion Cymreig , National Eisteddfod Association publication, 1890 ;
  • Nicholas Bennett , Alawon fy Ngwlad and , 1896 ;
  • R. Griffith , Llyfr Cerdd Dannau , 1913 ;
  • R. Williams , Montgomeryshire Worthies , second ed., 1894 .

Author:

Robert David Griffith, M.A., (1877-1958), Old Colwyn