Dictionary of Welsh Biography

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JONES , ROBERT EVAN ( 1869 - 1956 ), collector of books and manuscripts ;

b. 22 May, 1869 , one of seven children of John and Catherine Jones , High Street , Penrhyndeudraeth, Mer . His father was a grocer , and soon after Robert Evan 's birth the family moved to Meirion House , Tanygrisiau , Blaenau Ffestiniog . He received his early education in the boys' school, Tanygrisiau and later spent five years there as a pupil-teacher before becoming an assistant teacher , and as assistant he moved to Glan-y-Pwll and Manod , both in the same district. In 1894 he won the Queen's Scholarship to the University College of Wales , Aberystwyth . He almost won the Cynddelw Scholarship and was given a special award for the high standard of his examinations in Welsh and History. At college he studied Welsh language and literature under Professor Edward Anwyl ( DWB , 12-13) , and was chairman of the Y Gymdeithas Geltaidd and one of the founders of the eisteddfod . In 1898 , on completion of his course, he was appointed headmaster in Nantgwynant and later in Nantperis in Arfon . In 1910 he became headmaster of the council school in Tanygrisiau , his home, and he remained there until his retirement in 1932 .

During his career as headmaster he was very active in establishing evening classes for adults , and his far-reaching influence in the society reflected his cultural interests and organisational talent. For a time he was active in the Liberal party in Meirionethshire , and the local M.P. , Sir Henry Haydn Jones , was a close friend. Another friend, during a stint on the staff of Yr Herald Cymraeg , was T. Gwynn Jones (see below) , and they corresponded regularly. In 1921 he was very active, with others, in establishing a memorial fund to O.M. Edwards ( DWB , 192-3) of which he became secretary .

But he was best known as a collector of books and manuscripts . It is thought that he had more than ten thousand volumes in his personal library. More specifically he collected manuscripts and rare documents belonging to Charles Ashton ( DWB , 15) and Thomas Edwards , ‘ Twm o'r Nant ’ ( DWB , 196) . He had an interesting collection of the letters of Peter Williams ( 1723 - 1796 ; DWB , 1063) to his son Eliezer Williams ( DWB , 1036) from 1798 onwards. His interest and knowledge of books and manuscripts was invaluable to students and researchers, particularly in Celtic studies. He also wrote copiously on Welsh bibliography and Welsh studies in periodicals and newspapers .

He married, 12 Aug. 1920 , in Maentwrog Church , Sissie Hughes , dau. of Richard and Elizabeth Hughes , Llys Twrog , Maentwrog , and they had one daughter. He died 27 March 1956 and was buried at Maentwrog .


  • Information from his daughter.


Most Reverend Alwyn Rice Jones, St Asaph

Published date: 2001