Dictionary of Welsh Biography

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KYFFIN , MORRIS ( c. 1555 - 1598 ), writer and soldier ;

it is more than likely that he was the son of Tomos Kyffin and his wife, Catrin Lloyd , both of whom belonged to county families living near Oswestry . All that we know about his education is that he studied poetry under William Llŷn (q.v.) and that, later on, in London , 1578-80 , he was one of the pupils and friends of the celebrated John Dee (q.v.) . About 1580-2 he was tutor to lord Buckhurst 's sons. He wrote a considerable amount of poetry in English and Welsh and in 1587 published The Blessedness of Brytaine , a poem in praise of queen Elizabeth . Many of his Welsh poems still exist in manuscript form. In 1588 he published an English translation of Terence 's Andria . In 1588 , also, he was appointed surveyor of the muster rolls to the English army in the Netherlands , and in 1591 deputy-treasurer of the forces in Normandy . He returned to London to complete and publish, in 1594 , his literary masterpiece, Deffynniad Ffydd Eglwys Loegr , a translation of bishop Jewel 's Apologia for the faith of the Church of England , first published in 1562 . The Deffynniad has become one of the classics of Welsh prose and is remarkable for its smooth and vigorous phraseology. The period from 1596 until his death was a stormy one for Kyffin who was then comptroller of the musters to the army in Ireland and whose duty it was to keep an eye on unprincipled officers who cheated the Government and oppressed the local inhabitants . As far as can be gathered, Kyffin was honest and conscientious and so earned the hatred of those less incorruptible than himself, more particularly that of his colleague Sir Ralph Lane . He d. 2 Jan. 1598 and was buried in Christ Church , Dublin .


  • W. P. Williams (ed.), Deffynniad Ffydd Eglwys Loegr (Bangor, 1908) ;
  • W. J. Gruffydd , Llenyddiaeth Cymru o 1450 hyd 1600 , 86-97;
  • T. Parry , Hanes Llenyddiaeth Gymraeg (1944) , chapter viii.


Sir Glanmor Williams, M.A., Swansea

Published date: 1959