Dictionary of Welsh Biography

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OWEN , WILLIAM (‘ Gwilym Meudwy ’, or ‘ Gwilym Glan Llwchwr ’; 1841 - 1902 ), rhymester and tramp ;

b. in Aber Cenfi , Llandybïe, Carms. 23 July 1841 , s. of William and Sarah Owen . The family hailed from Montgomeryshire and the father was a weaver in Cil-y-cwm , Llanwrda and Llandovery before moving to a woollen factory in Cwmllwchwr in 1836 . According to Watcyn Wyn ( Y Diwygiwr , 1902 , 262) William Owen was the great-grandson of John Owen ( 1757 - 1829 ), Machynlleth ( DWB , 712) , author of the long poem Troedigaeth Atheos . Gwilym Meudwy was apprenticed to a carpenter in Trap , near Llandeilo , in 1856 but he returned to his father and the woollen mill after 3 years. His father d. in 1865 and his mother in 1877 , and Gwilym Meudwy was a tramp for the rest of his life. He spent his summers at the spas in Llanwrtyd and Llandrindod , returning to Brynaman , Llanelli and Swansea over the winter. He used to sell the products of his muse on these annual pilgrimages and he kept the printers of Aberdare , Llandeilo , Ystalyfera , Llanelli and Ammanford busy for a period of 30 years. Between 1879 and 1902 he published about 18 pamphlets containing a variety of material such as temperance debates, conversations, ballads and tracts, but he made his name primarily as an elegist . He composed scores of memorial verses for leading Nonconformists and politicians as well as ballads in memory of those killed in colliery accidents . The quality of these verses is, to say the least, mediocre, but Gwilym Meudwy deserves recognition as one of the last of his kind to make a living by selling his poems and ballads . He d. in Ammanford 21 June 1902 and was buried in the family grave in the cemetery of the parish church, Llandybïe . One of his brothers was Joseph Pugh Owen , schoolmaster of Torrington Square , London ; another was John Owen who m. a sister of D. Avan Griffiths , minister of Troedrhiwdalar (Congl.) . William Pugh Owen , a priest in Melbourne , Australia , and Dr. John Griffith Owen , a doctor in Kingston-upon-Thames , were the children of that marriage. Edmund Owen Rees of San Francisco , British Consul in Nicaragua , was the rhymester 's nephew, his sister's son.


  • Y Casglwr pob peth printiedig , 8 Aug. 1979 (with a list of his works);
  • G. M. Roberts , Hanes Plwyf Llandybïe, etc (Cardiff, 1939) , 235;
  • South Wales Guardian , 21 Aug. — 11 Sept. 1975 .


Dr Huw Walters, F.S.A., Aberystwyth

Published date: 2001