Dictionary of Welsh Biography

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WILLIAMS (alias PENROSE ), LLEWELLIN ( 1725 - ? ), sailor and painter .

Williams was his family name, but he took the name ‘ Penrose ’ from a shipbuilder or sea-captain of his acquaintance. Born in May 1725 , near Caerphilly, Glam. , he was the elder of the two children of a sailor , who later lost his life in a storm off the Dutch coast . Williams attended a grammar school in Bristol , where he first developed his love of painting . On the remarriage of his mother, the family lived for some time in Worcestershire and Monmouthshire before returning to an unspecified town in South Wales . Unhappy because of his step-father's insistence that he should enter the legal profession, Williams ran away from home in Sept. 1744 , and made for Bristol , passing through Pyle, Glam. , on his way. Thereafter for many years he led an adventurous life at sea and in America , where he spent some years amongst the Indians . During this period of his life, he met the artist Benjamin West , who later attributed the development of his artistic ability in some measure to his contact with Williams in Philadelphia . Returning in indigent circumstances to London and then to Bristol , Williams was befriended by Thomas Eagles , who placed him in the Merchants' Alms House in Bristol . On Williams 's death, Eagles inherited all his books and also the manuscript of a ‘Journal’ containing adventures based partly on Williams 's own experiences amongst the Indians . This was published in 1815 , under the title The Journal of Llewellin Penrose, a Seaman . The date of his death is unknown.


  • John Eagles , The Journal of Llewellin Penrose, a Seaman (London, 1815) (four volumes), 1815 ;
  • Bye–Gones, relating to Wales and the Border Counties , April 1883 , 222-3;
  • W. T. Whitley , Artists and their Friends in England, 1700-99 (London, 1928) , 193-4;
  • NLW MS 9276 (under West, Benjamin), and 9277 (under Williams, Llewellin).


Hywel David Emanuel, M.A., (1921-70), Aberystwyth

Published date: 1959