Dictionary of Welsh Biography

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HARRIS , JOSEPH (Gomer; DWB , 342).

Read Bwyall not ‘Bwyell ’.


Corrections and additions:

HARRIS , JOSEPH ( Gomer , 1773 - 1825 ), Baptist minister, and man of letters ;

b. the son of a farm bailiff at Llantydewi , Wolfs Castle, Pembs. , and baptized at Llangloffan about 1792/3 . Fired by the revival at Puncheston in 1795 , he began to preach and in 1796 published Casgliad o Hymnau , a supplement to a hymnbook he had already published in 1793 . He m. Martha Symons of Little Newcastle and in 1801 came to Back Street chapel after which he went for four months to Bristol Academy . Back Street was troubled by Arminianism in 1800 , and Unitarianism was causing dissension in the Old Meeting House ; to combat this he published Bwyall Grist yng Nghoed Anghrist in 1804 . His Traethawd ar Briodol Dduwdod ein Harglwydd Iesu Grist , 1816-17 , left its mark on the theological opinions of many people, winning the approval of Trinitarians of almost every denomination. He kept alive the tradition of the revivalist preachers and worked zealously for the Welsh language and for congregational singing . In 1821 he published Casgliad o Hymnau , which included many of his own hymns; it was sold in his own bookshop. He also kept a day-school . He may be regarded as the father of the Welsh newspaper , for his Seren Gomer , 1814-15 , was the first all-Welsh weekly. Although this undertaking caused him serious losses and was a failure, as were Greal y Bedyddwyr , 1817 , and the Drysorfa Efengylaidd , 1806 , which he sought to run in conjunction with Titus Lewis ( 1773 - 1811 ) (q.v.) , his fortnightly Seren Gomer , 1818 , was a success. He also published Yr Anghyffelyb Broffeswr (a translation), 1802 ; Y Beibl Dwy-ieithawg ; Gill 's Commentary on the New Testament , translated into Welsh by himself, Titus Lewis , and Christmas Evans ; and Cofiant Ieuan Ddu , a memoir of his son, J. Ryland Harris (q.v.) . He d. 10 Aug. 1825 shortly after his fifty-second birthday.


  • D. Rhys Stephen , Cofiant Joseph Harris (Gomer);
  • Cambrian Bibliography (Llanidloes, 1869) ; Trafodion Cymdeithas Hanes Bedyddwyr Cymru , 1930 .


Reverend William Joseph Rhys, (1880-1967), Gelli, Rhondda / Treherbert

Published date: 2001