Dictionary of Welsh Biography

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LLOYD, LEWIS WILLIAM (1939-1997), historian and author.

born 13 June 1939 in London, the second son and third child of Lewis Pugh Lloyd and his wife Ruby Margaret Doris (née Haste). His father hailed from Llanfair, near Harlech, Mer.; his mother was a Londoner with Welsh connections. The family moved from London to Llanfair in 1953. He was educated at Willesden county grammar school, Barmouth county school, Ysgol Ardudwy, Harlech; the University College of Wales, Aberystwyth (LLB, 1960 with first-class hons.; he was awarded the ‘Sir Samuel Evans Prize’), Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge (LLB, 1962; this degree was redesignated LLM in 1985), and the Australian National University, Canberra (Ph.D., 1966 for a thesis on the subject ‘The sources and development of Australian mining law’). He was a lecturer in the department of law at the University of Leeds, 1966-68. In 1968 he was appointed tutor (promoted to senior tutor in 1973) in political theory and institutions at Coleg Harlech. He chose to remain there until his early retirement in Aug. 1993. Though he had taken a brilliant law degree, followed by advanced research in the subject, and even as early as 1961 had become a member of Gray's Inn (on the exhortation of Professor D. J. Llewelfryn Davies, Aberystwyth), history rather than law was his main interest. He did not proceed with his intention to sit the bar examinations after returning from Australia in 1966, and abandoned law as a pure academic subject after leaving his post in Leeds. His appointment to Coleg Harlech gave him the opportunity to pursue his true interest - historical research.

Lewis Lloyd had a deep affection for Merioneth, and for the commote of Ardudwy in particular - ‘Canmol dy fro a thrig yno’ (‘Praise thy land and dwell therein’) was one of his favourite Welsh proverbs. He was proud of his local roots and especially that his paternal ancestors had lived in the district long before Edward I had built his castle in Harlech at the end of the 13th century. He regarded the Lloyds of Cwm Bychan amongst his more recent ancestors. Soon after his appointment to Coleg Harlech, he commenced his research into Ardudwy's history, and more especially into the maritime history of Caernarfonshire and Merionethshire. This became the centre point of his life, and for almost the next 30 years he immersed himself completely in the subject. He had a thorough knowledge of all the sources - original and printed. He travelled extensively in Britain (though he never drove a motor car!) and abroad - to Australia (in 1988 and 1994) and the U.S.A. (in 1997) to consult archival and bibliographical collections. He combined the maritime with the social history of these counties; he had a great respect for the gwerin - farmers, craftsmen and sailors alike. He became an authority also on the history of Welsh emigration to Australia during the 19th and 20th centuries. He had begun researching into Welsh emigration to the U.S.A. in the same period when he died.

He published extensively in various periodicals from 1972 onwards, but particularly in Maritime Wales and the Journal of the Merioneth Historical and Record Society. He was amongst the founders of Maritime Wales in 1976, and was one of its editors from the beginning until his death. A bibliography of his writings appears in number 28 (2007) of that journal. Here are the titles of his major publications: The book of Harlech (1986); Australians from Wales (1988); The port of Caernarfon 1793-1900 (1989); Pwllheli: the port and mart of Llyn (1991); Wherever freights may offer: the maritime community of Abermaw/Barmouth 1565 to 1920 (1993); A real little seaport: the port of Aberdyfi and its people 1565-1920 (1996; two volumes). He published the majority of these privately and at his own expense. He states in the preface of his concise book, The town and port of Barmouth (1565-1973), published in 1974: ‘The sea provided a highway to the world and sustained the curiosity of those who wished to lead a more adventurous life…’. He made a unique and prolific contribution in recording the lives of these brave sailors and their communities.

He was elected F.S.A. in 1977 and F.R.Hist.S. in 1990. A faithful member of the Council of the Merionethshire Historical and Record Society during 1977-89, he was made a vice-president in 1989. Lecturing on local history to various societies and evening classes, especially in Ardudwy, gave him much pleasure. He shared his knowledge and infectious enthusiasm with others through his letters, lectures and numerous publications over the years. The Harlech Historical Society was founded in his memory in 1998.

Lewis Lloyd was a likeable, unassuming and popular person. He died suddenly on 11 April 1997 at 57 years of age at Cadair Owain, his home in Llanfair, and was buried on 19 April near his parents' grave in St Mary's churchyard. His family, very appropriately, donated part of his library to Coleg Harlech and his research collection to the Merioneth Record Office, Dolgellau.


  • Family information given by his brother, the late Ellis Charles Lloyd, London, and his sister, Mrs Margaret Isobel Beale, Hazlemere, Bucks.;
  • personal knowledge;
  • Maritime Wales , 19 (1997-8), 7-8, 28 (2007),103-10;
  • Journal of the Merioneth Historical and Record Society , XII(IV), 1997, 307-08;
  • The Liverpool Daily Post , 16 Apr.1997;
  • The Cambrian News , 24 Apr.1997;
  • Llais Ardudwy , 243 (May 1997).
  • A photograph of him appears in Journal of the Merioneth Historical and Record Society , XII (4), 1997.


Arwyn Lloyd Hughes, Llandaf

Published date: 2010