Dictionary of Welsh Biography


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SIMON , BEN ( c. 1703 - 1793 ), of Abergwili, Carms.

There is a record of the burial of ‘ Benjamin Simon , a Pauper,’ at Abergwili , 1 March 1793 , and Iolo Morganwg has left for us in his ‘ Agricultural Observations ,’ 1795 ( N.L.W. MS. 13115 , i.e. Llanover MS. C 28 ) a picture of the old man in his poverty. Iolo says that he was 90 years of age at the time of his death and that he had been a bookbinder by trade. Another tradition, however, has it that he was a bootmaker . His elegy on Griffith Jones of Llanddowror shows how greatly he, like many other contemporaries, was indebted to Jones and his schools. Simon , like so many other antiquaries and literary men of that generation, was a dissenter , and he is recorded as being a member of the chapel at Panteg, Carms. , in March 1743 (the Panteg Church Book, N.L.W. MS. 12362 ). Ben Simon was one of the group of copyists greatly influenced by Iaco ab Dewi (q.v.) . His most celebrated manuscript, ‘ Tlysau'r Beirdd ’ ( N.L.W. MS. 5474 ) was written between 1747 and 1751 , and his well-known collection of Dafydd ap Gwilym's works ( N.L.W. MS. 5475 ) in 1754 . Some of his other manuscripts are in the Cardiff City Library and at Oxford . His books and manuscripts were bought by Thomas Evans ( Tomos Glyn Cothi , q.v.) in 1790 , and Iolo Morganwg made use of some of them at a later date. Ben Simon was also closely connected with Siôn Rhydderch (q.v.) . His best-known ballad is Marwnad ar Farwolaeth …, 17 o Ddynion yng Waith Glo'r Wern Fraith, ger-llaw Castell Nedd yn Sir Forgannwg , 1758 . Another of his elegies was printed as a supplement to Llawlyfr Ysgrythyrawl , 1756 .

Sources:

  • The National Library of Wales Journal , v, 302;
  • Carmarthenshire Miscellany , i, 1892 , 100;
  • the elegy on Griffith Jones is in Thomas Levi's collection, Casgliad o hen farwnadau Cymreig, yn dal cysylltiad a chyfundeb y Methodistiaid a wnaed ar gais y Gymanfa Gyffredinol (Wrexham, 1873) , 1873 .

Author:

Garfield Hopkin Hughes, M.A., (1912-69), Aberystwyth

Published date: 1959