Dictionary of Welsh Biography


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REYNOLDS , JONATHAN OWAIN ( Nathan Dyfed , 1814 - 1891 ), author .

Son of Dafydd and Mary Reynolds , born 28 April 1814 in the parish of Llanwinio, Carms. He could read Welsh when 5 years old, having been taught by his mother. Nine weeks at a day school was all the education he had. At first a farm labourer , he afterwards became a wheelwright , with his father, and practised that trade at Merthyr Tydfil until his death. He left home to work near Llanelly , and moved to Merthyr in 1835 , where he m. Martha Reynolds (not related) in 1842 , and had nine children. Welsh movements had his ready support, and he was secretary of the Cymreigyddion Society that met at the White Lion Inn . For many years he edited the Welsh columns in weekly newspapers , including the Merthyr Express . He was an ardent eisteddfodwr , and gained over 100 prizes, chiefly for englynion and tribannau , of which he made a large collection. His compositions contained an excessive number of obsolete words. He translated some of Shakespeare 's tragedies into Welsh . He d. 17 July 1891 and was buried in Cefncoedcymer cemetery.

His eldest son, LLYWARCH OWAIN REYNOLDS ( 1843 - 1916 ), was a Celtic scholar , whose professional work was of secondary importance to him. He was educated at Llandovery College , was articled to a firm of Merthyr solicitors , and in 1868 proceeded to Jesus College , Oxford , where he graduated in 1875 . Then he returned to practice with the same solicitors , afterwards practising on his own. He was clerk to Rhymney District Council . The most notable of his valuable collection of books and manuscripts was Llyuyr Hir Llywarch Reynolds ( Merthyr Tydfil MS. 1 , now N.L.W. MS. 970 ), a 17th-cent. collection of Welsh poems in the hand of Llywelyn Siôn , Llangewydd ; they are described in J. Gwenogvryn Evans 's Reports on MSS. in the Welsh Language , II, i, 372-94. Besides the above volume, twenty-seven other volumes belonging to Llywarch Reynolds and his father came to N.L.W. in 1916 ; see N.L.W. Handlist of MSS. i, 77-9 (these should be studied side by side with the Thomas Stephens MSS. described on pages 66, 71-7 in the same volume). These manuscripts are evidence of Reynolds 's great services to Welsh and Celtic studies . He was on friendly terms with ( Sir ) John Rhys (see, e.g., N.L.W. MS. 988 ) and other Celtic scholars . It was he who saw through the press ( 1893 ) the famous essay written in 1858 by Thomas Stephens on the Madoc legend. N.L.W. MSS. 986-7 contain hundreds of letters written to Jonathan and Llywarch Reynolds . Llywarch Reynolds and his wife Elsa Irene copied much Welsh poetry and prose , and also translated much German literature. He died at Brislington , Bristol , on 12 March 1916 , when on a visit, and was buried there.

Sources:

  • Y Geninen (Gwyl Dewi), 1894 , 31;
  • South Wales Daily News , 20 July 1891 ;
  • T. E. Clarke , A Guide to Merthyr-Tydfil, and the traveller's companion, in visiting the iron works, and the various interesting localities of the surrounding neighbourhood … with brief notices of Glamorgan, and its antitquities (Merthyr Tydfil, 1848) , 74-5;
  • The Merthyr Express , 16 March 1916 ;
  • NLW MSS 970-97.

Author:

Edward Ivor Williams, (1885-1958), Newbridge, Monmouth

Published date: 1959