Dictionary of Welsh Biography

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DAVIES , MORRIS ( 1796 - 1876 ), author, hymnologist, and musician ;

b. Oct. 1796 (chr. 19 Oct. ) at Pennant-igi Uchaf (‘ Pennant Igillt ’ in a record of 1761 ), Mallwyd parish, Mer. ; his father, a farmer , was of Ffestiniog origin. His earliest education was in short-lived schools at Dinas Mawddwy and Mallwyd , together with the Sunday school . Disliking farm work, he decided to become a schoolmaster and went in 1819 to a school kept by William Owen ( Gwilym Glan Hafren , 1788 - 1838 , q.v.) at Welshpool . After six months there, he kept school , at Pont Robert , Llanfyllin , Syston (Leics.) , Llanfair Caereinion , and Llanfyllin again, till 1836 . The parson of Syston was Edward Morgan ( 1784 - 1869 ) (q.v.) , who was at the time engaged on his Life of Thomas Charles , and it was Davies who copied for him the 150 letters by Charles used in that book. In 1836 he became clerk to a legal firm at Llanfyllin with which David Williams ( 1799 - 1869 — see under Williams of Bron Eryri ) was connected, and he followed the firm when it moved to Portmadoc and then to Pwllheli . He was schoolmaster at Portmadoc , 1844-9 , but in 1849 removed to Bangor to become a clerk , and d. there 10 Sept. 1876 . Remembering his scrappy education and his constant shiftings for half a century, one cannot but be astonished at the amount and high quality of literary and musical work accomplished by Morris Davies . He translated religious booklets ; he was a diligent writer to the periodicals , notably to Y Traethodydd , in which some forty articles by him appeared: he contributed many articles to Y Gwyddoniadur and similar dictionaries; he published a biography, 1865 , of Ann Griffiths (q.v.) and an edition, 1876 , of the works of Daniel Rowland of Llangeitho (q.v.) with a biography. He wrote many hymns , was a specialist in hymnology (many of the Traethodydd articles are upon this subject), and edited four collections of hymns. He was also a good musician , and in 1860 published (under the title Jeduthun ) a collection of hymn-tunes, ten of which were of his own composition — on this see R. D. Griffith , Hanes Canu Cynulleidfaol Cymru , 1948 , 170-1.


  • Y Traethodydd , 1877 , 217-44, 359-75 (by Daniel Rowlands , Bangor, very full, and including Davies's own reminiscences);
  • Y Geninen (Gŵyl Ddewi), 1891, 30-7;
  • J. Thickens , Emynau a'u Hawduriaid (1945) , 1945 .


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

Published date: 1959