Dictionary of Welsh Biography

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ELLIS , ELLIS OWEN (‘ Ellis Bryn-coch '; 1813 - 1861 ), artist .

Born in Aber-erch parish, Caerns. , his mother being the daughter of John Roberts ( Siôn Lleyn , 1749 - 1817 ; the artist was also related to John Thomas ( Siôn Wyn o Eifion , 1786 - 1859 . He was apprenticed to a carpenter but, as he displayed some talent for painting , Sir Robert Williames Vaughan of Nannau, Mer. , brought him to the notice of Sir Martin Archer Shee , the painter , who gave him letters of introduction to other artists in London , whither Ellis had gone in 1834 to study and to paint. Some of his work was exhibited in the galleries in London , and he won a number of art prizes . ‘ The Battle of Rhuddlan Marsh ,’ ‘ Caradog before Caesar in Rome ,’ and ‘ The Fall of Llywelyn the last Prince of Wales ,’ are three of his titles. The works by which he is best known in Wales are ( a ) the painting of a group of about a hundred Welsh men of letters for which William Morris ( Gwilym Tawe ) paid him 100 guineas, and (b) a portrait of Siôn Wyn o Eifion entitled ‘ The Bard in Bed ,’ which is reproduced in the 1861 and 1910 editions of Gwaith barddonol Siôn Wyn o Eifion ; the original of ( b ) is in the National Library of Wales . There are in the Library also two of his books with original illustrations: ( a ) ‘ The Book of Welsh Ballads illustrated in outline. By Ellis Bryn-coch .’ This contains seven illustrations dealing with ‘ Bessi o Lansanffraid ,’ a ballad by John Jones (‘ Jac Glan-y-gors ,’ 1766 - 1821 , and ( b ) ‘ Illustrated Life of Richard Robert Jones Aberdaron by Ellis Owen, Ellis Bryn Coch ,’ [ Richard Robert Jones ] which contains eleven original pictures. Also in the National Library is a copy of a self-portrait. He d. 17 May 1861 and was buried at Aber-erch .


  • NLW MSS 1804, 1889, 9256;
  • Eminent Welshmen: a short biographical dictionary of Welshmen ... from the earliest times to the present (1908) ;
  • Geirlyfr Bywgraffiadol o Enwogion Cymru (1870) ;
  • J. Jones (‘Myrddin Fardd’) , Enwogion Sir Gaernarfon (1922) ;
  • a drawing of Ellis Owen Ellis can be seen on the Digital Mirror on the National Library of Wales website.


Sir William Llewelyn Davies, M.A., LL.D., F.S.A. (1887-1952), Aberystwyth

Published date: 1959