Dictionary of Welsh Biography


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MAURICE , WILLIAM (d. 1680 ), antiquary and collector of manuscripts .

The son of Lewis Maurice , who descended from the Moeliwrch family in Llansilin , by Jane , daughter of John Holand , vicar of Guilsfield ( 1586-1639 ), he spent his life at Cefn-y-braich or Ty Newydd in Cynllaith , Llansilin . It is said that he erected a building of three stories, locally known as ‘ the Study ,’ to house his library.

He had sufficient means to collect books and manuscripts , to employ copyists , and to spend his time copying and studying manuscripts . In these studies he regarded Robert Vaughan of Hengwrt as his Gamaliel . He worked much at Hengwrt and compiled a catalogue of the manuscripts in the collection. He himself acquired some important Welsh manuscripts, e.g. the ‘ White Book of Hergest ,’ which was lost in a fire at a bindery in Covent Garden in 1810 , and the manuscript of the Welsh laws which his cousin Meredith Lloyd of Bryn Elen gave him ( Wynnstay MS. 36 ). He transcribed a considerable body of Welsh poetry , and made a pioneer study of the texts of the Welsh laws in his ‘ Deddfgrawn ’ or ‘ Corpus Hoelianum ’ ( Wynnstay MSS. 37-8 ) in 1660-3 . He was interested in the early history of Wales and the Celts . He wrote a letter on Brennus to Robert Vaughan in 1662 ( Wynnstay MS. 12 ). Contemporary problems also engaged his attention, and, in 1653 , he wrote a treatise against altar-worship in which he criticised the work of Dr. George Griffith , afterwards bishop of S. Asaph , and Richard Jervis , vicar of his own parish. He is also said to have compiled a chronicle of the events of the Civil War in North Wales . Evan Evans (see Panton MS. 72 ) listed over 100 manuscripts which were in his possession or had been written by or for him.

He was twice m. (1), to Lettice , daughter of Roger Kynaston , Ruabon , by the daughter and heiress of Roger Eyton of Cefn y Carneddau ; by her he had three sons who d. young, and two daughters — Ann , wife of David Williams of Glan Alaw , brother of ( Sir ) William Williams ( 1634 - 1700 ), Speaker of the House of Commons , and Lettice , wife of Roger , son of Thomas Gethin of Maesbrook ; (2) to Elizabeth , daughter of George Ludlow of Morehouse , and widow of Thomas Gethin , and by her he had one daughter, Elizabeth , who m. George Jukes of Pool . In 1678 he had a share in ( Sir ) William Williams 's attempt to purchase the Hengwrt library .

He was buried at a great age at Llansilin , 23 March 1680 . His library he left to his daughter, Lettice . It was valued, in 1682 , from a list, at £60 by Edward Millington , and sold to ( Sir ) William Williams . Until about 1771 it was kept at Llanvorda , and then removed to Wynnstay , where it was practically all lost by fire, 5-6 March 1858 . In addition to the manuscripts cited, the chief surviving manuscripts in the hand of William Maurice are Llanst. MSS. 15, 31, 54, and 197 . In some of his manuscripts he used a Welsh orthography peculiar to himself, and no manuscript was too precious for him to disfigure with his scrawl.

Sources:

  • Oxford Dictionary of National Biography ;
  • History of the Princes, the Lords Marcher, and the Ancient Nobility of Powys Fadog , iv, 252;
  • The Cambro-Briton , i, 379-80;
  • Wynnstay Manuscript at the National Library of Wales, Aberystwyth 143, 234;
  • NLW MSS 732, 1505 (418);
  • The National Library of Wales Journal , ii, 26-36;
  • Handlist of Manuscripts in the National Library of Wales , I, xvi-xx; Reports on Manuscripts in the Welsh Language (1898–1910) .

Author:

Evan David Jones, F.S.A., (1903-87), Aberystwyth

Published date: 1959