Dictionary of Welsh Biography

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WILLIAMS , DAVID ( Alaw Goch ; 1809 - 1863 ), coal-owner and eisteddfodwr ;

b. 12 July 1809 at Llwyn Drain in the parish of Ystrad Owen, Glam. About 1821 his parents removed to Aberdare , and for a time he followed his father's trade as a sawyer . But he soon left that for coal-mining , and with marked ability, grit, perseverance, and a large measure of luck he soon attained a prominent position in the coal-mining world of South Wales . His first attempt at becoming a coal-owner was in partnership with Lewis Lewis (of Cefn Coed ) at Ynyscynon , Cwm-bach , where they began sinking a pit in 1847 , and entered into a lease of a coal-mine , dated 31 Dec. 1844 , for 48 years ( N.L.W. Ewenny MS. 374 ). After Lewis gave up, David Williams carried on alone. After being successful here, he soon opened another colliery at Aberaman , obtaining a lease from Crawshay Bailey (q.v.) who gave him much assistance. This colliery at Aberaman was generally known as Williams's Pit . Then he sank the Deep Duffryn colliery at Mountain Ash , and, after winning the coal, he sold the colliery to John Nixon for £42,000. With this money he again sank another colliery at Cwmdare in 1853 , and, after a further success, he again sold out. In this way he attained great wealth, buying up lands at Llanwynno (see Glanffrwd , Llanwynno , 1949 ), Trealaw (in the Rhondda Valley ), which is named after him, and Miskin Manor .

Although he became a man of wealth, he remained in close touch with the working classes, presiding and conducting and sometimes adjudicating at their eisteddfodau . Fond of composing Welsh poetry himself, he became a popular figure in the literary world of Wales , universally esteemed by all classes. He spent considerable sums of money in helping on the movement to establish the national eisteddfod alternately in North and South Wales , attending meetings at his own expense in both districts ( D. M. Richards , Rhestr Eisteddfodau , xxv-xxvii).

He was married in S. John's parish church , Aberdare , 3 Aug. 1837 , to Ann Morgan , a sister of William Morgan ( 1819 - 1878 , q.v.) and their early home at Ynyscynon , Aberdare , was the resort of poets and literary writers. Here their son, judge Gwilym Williams (q.v.) , was born.

Alaw Goch d. at Bridgend , 28 Feb. 1863 , and was buried in the Aberdare cemetery.


  • Eminent Welshmen: a short biographical dictionary of Welshmen ... from the earliest times to the present (1908) ;
  • Geirlyfr Bywgraffiadol o Enwogion Cymru (1870) ;
  • Geiriadur Bywgraffyddol o Enwogion Cymru , ii, 612;
  • Ben Morus , Enwogion Aberdâr;
  • Gwaith Barddonol Alaw Goch (Cardiff, 1903) (ed. Dafydd Morgannwg );
  • Y Gwladgarwr , which he helped to establish and maintained, 1858 ;
  • Cardiff and Merthyr Guardian , 7 and 14 March 1863 ;
  • Y Geninen , 1900 , 86;
  • Cymru (O.M.E.) Aug. 1904 ;
  • Seren Gomer , Oct. 1837, Nov. 1858, and March 1920 ;
  • The Principality , 29 March 1850 ;
  • Y Darian , 18 Aug. 1932 ;
  • C. Wilkins , The South Wales Coal Trade and its Allied Industries, from the Earliest Days to The Present Time (Cardiff, 1888)


Watkin William Price, M.A., (1873-1967), Aberdare

Published date: 1959