Dictionary of Welsh Biography

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DAVIES , DAN ISAAC ( 1839 - 1887 ), a pioneer of the teaching of Welsh in schools ;

b. 24 Jan. 1839 at Llandovery , son of Isaac Davies , a hatter (from Llandebie ), and his wife Rachel Charles . From Llandovery British School he went to Borough Road Training College , and in 1858 became master of Mill Street school (‘ Ysgol y Comin ’), Aberdare , where he broke new ground by encouraging his assistants to use Welsh in the classroom. In 1867 he took over the school of Evan Davies ( 1826 - 1872 ) (q.v.) at Swansea , but was in 1868 made assistant inspector of schools , removing in 1870 to Cheltenham and in 1877 to Bristol . In 1882 (though his actual removal took place in 1883 ) he was posted to the Merthyr Tydfil district (under William Edwards , 1851 - 1940 , q.v. ), but lived at Cardiff . His exile had deepened his love for Welsh , and he now sought to have it taught (not merely used) in the schools. He thus fell in with a movement to the same effect initiated by the Hon. Society of Cymmrodorion and supported by Professor Thomas Powel ( 1845 - 1922 ) (q.v.) . Davies spoke on the subject at the Liverpool national eisteddfod ( 1884 ), read a paper on it before the Cymmrodorion in London ( 1885 ), and contributed to the Baner in that year a series of articles which were reprinted ( 1885 , 1886 ) under the title Tair Miliwn o Gymry Dwyieithawg . At the Aberdare national eisteddfod ( 1885 ) he was one of the founders of the ‘ Society for the Utilization of the Welsh Language ,’ today known as ‘ The Welsh Language Society .’ In 1886 , through his chief William Edwards , he succeeded in getting Welsh recognized as a grant-earning subject in schools. He prepared a memorandum on bilingualism , for presentation to the 1886 royal commission on elementary education in Wales , and gave evidence before the commission. The recommendations of the memorandum were largely adopted by the commission in its report ( 1888 ), but before that Davies had d., 28 May 1887 . He was twice m., and left a widow and children.


  • J. Ifano Jones in Welsh Political and Educational Leaders in the Victorian Era (1908) (ed. Vyrnwy Morgan ), 1908 , 437-93.


Emeritus Professor Robert Thomas Jenkins, C.B.E., D.Litt., Ll.D., F.S.A., (1881-1969), Bangor

Published date: 1959