Dictionary of Welsh Biography

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JAMES , DAVID EMRYS (‘ Dewi Emrys ’; 1881 - 1952 ), minister (Congl.), writer and poet .

Born 26 May 1881 at Majorca House , New Quay, Cards. , son of Thomas Emrys James , a Congl. minister in Llandudno at the time, and Mary Ellen (née Jones ) , his wife, the daughter of a master mariner . The mother returned to New Quay to give birth to the child who was named David Edward, but the name Emrys was adopted later. When he was 7 years old his father received a call to be pastor of Rhosycaerau church , near Fishguard , and it was there that he spent his childhood. He received his early education in Henner school in the parish of Llanwnda , W.S. Jenkins’ preparatory school , and Fishguard county school . He was apprenticed as a compositor and reporter in the office of County Echo in Fishguard . In 1896 the family moved to Carmarthen , and he had an opportunity to complete his apprenticeship on The Carmarthen Journal . The editor , Henry Tobit Evans gave him every encouragement to continue to write and to recite on stage as he had done since he was young. He was made sub-editor and editor of the Welsh column of the Journal before he was 20 years old, and was released to attend the Old College School as a part-time student under Joseph Harry . During this period he began to preach . He went to the Presbyterian College in 1903 . He served for a short while in the Welsh Free Church , Liverpool , founded by William Owen Jones , before accepting a call to Bryn Seion , Dowlais , in 1907 . In 1908 he went to the English church in Buckley, Flints. In July of that year he m. Cissie Jenkins in the English Congl. chapel in Carmarthen . He moved again in 1911 to Gelliwastad English church , Pontypridd . He was one of the most eloquent preachers of Wales before World War I ; then in 1915 he became minister of Finsbury Park church in London , staying there till 1917 . He joined the army , and by 1918 his name had disappeared from the Congl. Yr. Bk .

He began to lose interest in personal relationships and in his church, and spent years adrift, separated from his family — his wife and two sons. He settled down again in 1940-41 with his daughter, Dwynwen , in ‘ Y Bwthyn ’, Talgarreg, Cards. , becoming a member of Pisgah Congl. church and preaching occasionally in the neighbouring districts; he remained there for the rest of his life.

A charismatic person, around whom many stories gathered, he held Welsh literature and poetry classes here and there under the auspices of the W.E.A. movement for adult education, and ‘ Y Bwthyn ’ became the haunt of poets and writers . He was one of the masters of cerdd dafod , winning among many other prizes at the national eisteddfod the crown in Swansea , 1926 (for ‘ Rhigymau'r ffordd fawr ’), and the chair four times — Liverpool , 1929 (‘ Dafydd ap Gwilym ’); Llanelli , 1930 (‘ Y Galilead ’); Bangor , 1943 (‘ Cymylau amser ’); and Bridgend , 1948 (‘ Yr Alltud ’). He was editor of the column ‘ Pabell awen ’ in Y Cymro from 1936 to 1952 .

He d. at Aberystwyth hospital on 20 Sept. 1952 , and was buried in Pisgah cemetery , Talgarreg . A memorial stone for him was also erected above the cliffs of Pwllderi, north Pembs.

Much of his work has been published: Rhigymau'r ffordd fawr ( 1926 ), Rhymes of the road ( 1928 ), Y cwm unig a chaniadau eraill ( 1930 ), Ysgrifau ( 1937 ), Odl a chynghanedd (a textbook on cerdd dafod ; 1938 ), Beirdd y babell (ed.; 1939 ), Cerddi'r bwthyn ( 1948 ), and poetry pamphlets: Y gwron di-enw (poem at the eisteddfod in Anglesey ; 1922 ), Atgof (second best poem at Pontypool ; 1924 ), Y gân ni chanwyd (second best poem at Liverpool , 1929 ), Daniel Owen ( awdl in the London eisteddfod ; 1936 ).


  • Eluned Phillips , Dewi Emrys (Llandysul, 1971) ;
  • T. Llew Jones , Dewi Emrys (1981) .


Reverend Gerallt Jones (1907-84), Caerwedros, New Quay

Published date: 2001