Dictionary of Welsh Biography

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HUMPHREYS , HUMPHREY ( 1648 - 1712 ), bishop, antiquary, historian, and genealogist ;

b. 24 Nov. 1648 , eldest son of Richard Humphreys , Hendre , Penrhyndeudraeth (a Royalist officer ) and Margaret , daughter of Robert Wynne of Cesailgyfarch , Penmorfa, Caerns. He was educated at Oswestry and Bangor grammar schools and afterwards at Jesus College , Oxford , where he graduated B.A. in 1669 , M.A. 1672 , was elected a Fellow 1672-3 , B.D. 1679 , and D.D. 1682 . Ordained (by a faculty) deacon and priest on 12 Nov. 1670 by bishop Robert Morgan in Bangor cathedral , he was, on the same day, collated and instituted to the rectory of Llanfrothen . His other benefices were — Trawsfynydd , 1672 ; Criccieth , 1677 ; Llaniestyn, Caerns. , 1680 , and Hope (a sinecure) in 1689 . He was installed dean of Bangor , 16 Dec. 1680 and consecrated bishop of that see on 30 June 1689 . Much against his inclination he was translated to Hereford in Nov. 1701 ; there he d. on 20 Nov. 1712 . In 1681 , Humphreys m. Elizabeth , daughter of bishop Robert Morgan of Henblas , Anglesey , a family of which bishop William Lloyd (q.v.) , one of the ‘Seven Bishops,’ was a distinguished member.

Bishop Humphreys 's episcopate was one of marked activity, and even after his translation to Hereford , his interest in his native country did not lessen, although ill-health darkened his latter years. When dean of Bangor he improved the organization of the diocese , rebuilt the deanery , and joined bishop Lloyd in an effort to win back the Dissenters to the Church . In 1690 , he issued visitation queries in Welsh to find out the state of the diocese. He was the leading supporter of the S.P.C.K. in North Wales , and in a letter to the clergy he exhorts them to hold monthly meetings and to make themselves ‘ wholesome examples and patterns to the flock of Christ .’

An ardent Welshman , he merited Thomas Hearne 's tribute that ‘he was reckon'd next to Mr. Edw. Lluyd for knowledge in the British language; but Mr. Lluyd used to say he was a greater master of it.’ The bards , Edward Morris (d. 1689 ) and Owen Gruffydd ( 1643 - 1730 ) (qq.v.), wrote cywyddau in his honour, and the prose-writers Ellis Wynne , Edward Samuel , and Samuel Williams (qq.v.) acknowledged their indebtedness, the first and last by dedicating to him their works, Rheol Buchedd Sanctaidd and Amser a Diwedd Amser .

To Edward Lhuyd , the bishop was ‘ incomparably the best skill'd in our Antiquities of any person in Wales .’ James Tyrrell ( 1642 - 1718 ), the historian , accepted Humphreys ' chronology of the British princes and William Wynne ( 1671 - 1704 ) (q.v.) , dedicated his History of Wales to him. The heralds of the Colleges of Arms , Piers Maudit ( Windsor herald ), and Peter le Neve ( Norroy king of arms ), directed their enquiries on Welsh pedigrees to the bishop , who remarked to Maudit that searching out pedigrees was his chief diversion in spare hours.

Humphreys ' main literary work was his additions to and corrections of Anthony Wood 's Athenae Oxonienses , for the most part printed in Bliss 's edition of that work. Numbering over a hundred, these, together with a catalogue of the deans of Bangor and S. Asaph , provide a wealth of historical data for any considered history of the diocese. The bishop 's notes on Camden 's Britannia and on S. Winifride's Well , and his defence of archbishop John Williams cannot now be traced.


  • Oxford Dictionary of National Biography ;
  • A. O. Evans , A Few Episcopal Visitation Queries (Bangor, 1937) ;
  • E. Lhuyd , Archaeologia Britannica (1707) , 266-9;
  • Archaeologia Cambrensis , 1855 , 45;
  • MS. minutes, S.P.C.K. ( 1698-1709 ), and Abstracts of Letters ( 1708-11 );
  • The National Library of Wales Journal , i, 162-3;
  • U.C.N.W. Henblas MSS. at University College North Wales Library, Bangor A 4, 730, B 60, 1385;
  • Penrhos Manuscripts 102, 105, 264, 437-40, 524, 730, 732, 739, 774-6;
  • J. E. Griffith , Pedigrees of Anglesey and Carnarvonshire Families (1914) , 236.


Reverend Canon Evan Gilbert Wright, M.A., B.D., (1903-1993/4), Bangor

Published date: 1959