Dictionary of Welsh Biography

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SPURRELL family, of Carmarthen , printers .

The first Spurrell to settle at Carmarthen was JOHN SPURRELL , Bath , an auctioneer who also became agent for the estate of one of the branches of the Mansel family. He and his wife Sarah ( Singers ) settled in the Lower Market Street (later Hall Street ) during the last quarter of the 18th cent. They had a son, RICHARD SPURRELL , who was clerk to the Carmarthenshire county magistrates and who m. Elizabeth Margaretta , daughter of Thomas Thomas , Frowen , near Llanboidy .

WILLIAM SPURRELL ( 1813 - 1889 ), printer and publisher ,

the third son of Richard and Elizabeth Spurrell , was b. 30 July 1813 at 13 Quay Street . From 1821 until 1829 or 1830 he was a pupil in the Queen Elizabeth grammar school , Carmarthen . He was apprenticed, 1 Nov. 1830 , to John Powell Davies , 58 King Street , Carmarthen . On 27 July 1835 he went to London to work for Bradbury and Evans , printers and publishers . He returned to Carmarthen in 1840 (26 Aug.) and opened his own printing works in Spurrell Court before the end of that year and in King Street in 1841 . Thenceforward he was busy printing and publishing , and establishing a high reputation as a printer . Some substantial works issued from his press, including a Welsh-English dictionary , 1848 , and an English-Welsh dictionary in 1853 . He also published a Welsh grammar (2nd ed. 1853 ). He became the editor and the owner of Yr Haul in 1857 (first number Jan. 1857 ) and continued to publish that journal until 1884 ; in 1862 he had begun to publish Y Cyfaill Eglwysig . Another work worthy of mention was Carmarthen and its Neighbourhood , 1860 (2nd ed. 1879 ). As he was now a substantial printer and publisher it is not surprising that he was well acquainted with such writers as Daniel Silvan Evans , Morris Williams ( Nicander ) , John Rowlands ( Giraldus ) (qq.v.), etc. He m., 1846 , Sarah , daughter of Evan Walter , Bryn-bach . Two of his sons became clergymen , a third was a doctor , whilst a fourth, Walter Spurrell (below), joined him in the business. He d. 22 April 1889 .

WALTER SPURRELL ( 1858 - 1934 ), printer and publisher ;

b. 19 Sept. 1858 , son of the above William Spurrell . He also was educated at the Queen Elizabeth grammar school , Carmarthen , going afterwards to the S. Davids cathedral school and to Liverpool college . He joined his father in the business and soon showed that he was actuated by the same high ideals of craftsmanship. He m., 19 Sept. 1893 , Florence Mary , daughter of Frederick William Turner , Stoke Newington . Like his father, Walter Spurrell took an active part in Carmarthen and west Wales affairs; he also maintained the publishing connection with the Church in Wales established by the father. He was one of the founders of the Carmarthenshire Antiquarian Society . Among serial publications issued by Walter Spurrell were the West Wales Historical Records (14 vols., 1911-29 ) and the Journal of the Welsh Bibliographical Society .

To many Welsh people the name of Walter Spurrell is associated with the term ‘ Geiriadur Bodfan ,’ i.e. John Bodvan Anwyl 's edition, completely revised, of the dictionaries first published by William Spurrell . The first Bodvan edition of the Welsh-English dictionary appeared in 1914 (it made the sixth edition of the original work); the ‘first Anwyl edition,’ 1916 , of the English-Welsh dictionary represented the 7th edition of the work first published in 1853 . There have since been several new editions or impressions together with a ‘pocket edition’ (first published in 1919 ). Walter Spurrell d. 23 April 1934 .


  • Main source has been The House of Spurrell. By the Spurrell Family , with its cover-title of W. Spurrell and Son, 1840-1940 .


Sir William Llewelyn Davies, M.A., LL.D., F.S.A. (1887-1952), Aberystwyth

Published date: 1959