Dictionary of Welsh Biography

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ROWLANDS , HENRY ( 1655 - 1723 ), antiquary ;

b. at Plas Gwyn , Llanedwen , Anglesey , son of William Rowlands and Magdaline , daughter of Edward Wynne of Penhesgyn Isa , Llansadwrn . There is no record of his having been to any school or college and the inference is that he was educated at home. He was ordained deacon 2 July 1682 and priest a fortnight later. In 1682 he was given the living of Llanfair-pwll and Llantysilio , and in 1696 , that of Llanidan together with Llanedwen , Llanddaniel-fab , and Llanfair-yn-y-cwmwd . His first book was Idea Agriculturae which was written in 1704 , but remained in manuscript until 1764 . This describes the state of agriculture in Anglesey and tells us the methods adopted to improve the soil. He wrote his next work, Antiquilates Parochiales , in Latin in 1710 . A partial translation of this was published in the Cambro-Briton (vol. 2) and this was all that was available until it all appeared in Arch. Camb. [ 1846-9 .] The author 's intention was to make a survey of all the ancient remains in the county but only part of the work was finished. Rowlands , in one of his letters ( N.L.W. Plas Gwyn MS. 105 ), refers to a second edition of his book on fossils, but nothing is known about this work. His most important work was Mona Antiqua Restaurata , which was published in Dublin in 1723 , a second impression being issued in 1766 under the editorship of Dr. Henry Owen ( 1716 - 1795 ) . In this work the principal relics of the past are listed and an effort is made to prove that Anglesey was the chief seat of the druids . He was not successful in his attempt to trace the derivation of Welsh words. He corresponded with Edward Lhuyd , Browne Willis , and other leading antiquaries , and his influence on his contemporaries was marked. It is true that many of his theories were incorrect but it must be remembered that he was a pioneer . We are indebted to him for preserving the history of a number of places of antiquarian importance which would have been unknown to us but for his writings. He d. 21 Nov. 1723 .


  • Oxford Dictionary of National Biography , and the authorities named therein;
  • Eminent Welshmen: a short biographical dictionary of Welshmen ... from the earliest times to the present (1908) ;
  • Richard Parry (Gwalchmai) Enwogion Môn (1877) , 153-4;
  • W. Garel Jones , M.A. thesis, 1936 (unpublished), in N.L.W., ‘The Life and Works of Henry Rowlands.’


Reverend Canon Evan Gilbert Wright, M.A., B.D., (1903-1993/4), Bangor

Published date: 1959