Dictionary of Welsh Biography


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WILLIAMS , ALICE MATILDA LANGLAND ( 1867 - 1950 ), otherwise Alys Mallt , but more generally known as Y Fonesig Mallt Williams , author and celtophile .

Born in Oystermouth , Gower (though some sources say in Aberclydach , Tal-y-bont on Usk, Brecks. ), 4 Oct. 1867 , fourth child of John James Williams , M.D. (‘ Brychan ’), one of two sisters of William Retlaw Williams . She came in her youth under the influence of Lady Llanover , and throughout her long life she retained her interest in Welsh and Celtic cultural and political movements . Her name with that of her sister GWENFRIDA (‘ Cate ’ , ‘ Gwenffreda ferch Brychan ’), is linked with that of Lady Llanover in a poem entitled ‘ An Diou Vag ’, which François Jaffrennou (‘ Taldir ’) composed after the national eisteddfod held at Cardiff in 1899 , and published in Gwerziou gant Abherve ha Taldir , St. Brieuc , 1899 . The two sisters were ‘ Y Ddau Wynne ’, joint authors of the novels One of the Royal Celts , London 1889 , and A Maid of Cymru , London 1901 . Gwenfrida d. in 1914 . As Maud Williams of Aberclydach ( Llanfigan, Breckns. ), Mallt was the second person to join Urdd y Delyn founded by Owen M. Edwards in 1896 . For years this League offered prizes for penillion singing, harp-playing, reading Welsh books and speaking Welsh. Later she used to present prizes for the harp , under the name of ‘ Gwobrwyon Aberclydach ’, at national eisteddfodau . She was the founder and leader of Ysbïwyr y Frenhines in Byddin Cymru under the auspices of Cymru'r Plant from 1911 to 1916 . The members took an oath to serve Wales with heart, mind, tongue and hand. By then she had moved to live at Plas Gwynnon Dôl in Llanarthne, Carms. In 1915 she moved again, this time to Plas Pantsaeson near St. Dogmaels, Pembs. , where she spent the remainder of her life. She lived there with her younger brother,

Jim ’, FREDERICK GEORGE ROBERTSON WILLIAMS ,

who had left Aberclydach when his elder brother inherited the estate. He first settled at Capel Isaf near Llandeilo , but in 1916 he purchased the Plas Pantsaeson estate and went to live there with his wife ‘ Daisy ’ or ‘ Modie ’, Hylda Marguerite , dau. of Major Penry Lloyd . Robertson Williams was interested in afforestation and as part of his endeavour to improve the estate he planted trees extensively. Like his sister Mallt he was conspicuous at Celtic gatherings on account of his dress modelled on the conjectured style of a Welsh lord of the thirteenth century. He d. at the age of 75 on 11 Jan. 1945 and his body was borne on a gambo to his resting place in Monnington churchyard. He is described in the inscription on his tombstone as Hollgelt (‘a complete Celt’). His widow d. at the same house on 2 Feb. 1952 . They had two sons and one daughter.

The elder of the boys Ioan Penry Brychan Robertson , co-operated with his aunt Mallt in the publication of a Welsh birthday book , Llyfr Penblwydd , in 1929 . Mallt attended meetings of Welsh and Irish national movements zealously and stood firm for Welshness in speech and dress . In her annual address to Ysbïwyr y Frenhines she urged the members to imitate the zeal of the Irish , but after the Easter Rising of 1916 she was more subdued. Throughout the years she consistently supported the National Eistedfod , Urdd Gobaith Cymru and Plaid Cymru . In her latter years her hundred pounds headed the list of subscriptions to the annual St. David's Day fund of the Blaid . She was a stalwart supporter of the campaign against the establishment of a training camp for the Royal Air Force at Porth Neigwl and Penyberth ; and it was she who coined the name Ysgol Fomio (‘bombing school’). She was a strict vegetarian and a disciple of Mary Baker Eddy . She d. 28 Oct., 1950 at Plas Pantsaeson and was cremated at Pontypridd ; her ashes were scattered in the churchyard at Llansanffraid, Breckns. Her portrait can be seen on p.44 of Cymru , XXIX, 1905 .

Sources:

  • Cymru (O.M.E.) , Cymru'r Plant , Aberystwyth, 1892-1987 , passim ;
  • Cardigan and Tivyside Advertiser , 26 Jan., 1945 , 3 Nov., 1950 ;
  • information from W. W. Price , Selwyn Jones , J. E. Jones , G. M. Roberts , and Maureen Patch ;
  • Marion Löffler in Planet the Welsh internationalist , no. 121 (1997) .

Author:

Evan David Jones, F.S.A., (1903-87), Aberystwyth

Published date: 2001