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Sir John Williams was responsible, in part, for the inauguration of the ‘ Record Series ’ published by the Hon. Society of Cymmrodorion . In 1903 he decided to return to Wales (to Plas Llanstephan , Carms. ) in order to be more closely in touch with those Welsh cultural movements in which he was particularly interested. He had continued to add to his private library , and was closely associated with the work of the ‘ Welsh Library Committee ’ of the University College of Wales , Aberystwyth , the members of which were aiming at the creation of a national library and a national museum for Wales . In 1898 he took a step which was destined to have a momentous influence — he purchased the ‘reversion’ of the magnificent Peniarth (Merioneth) collection of manuscripts in Welsh , Latin , and other languages, his intention being to present this collection, when it became his absolute property, to the National Library of Wales , if that institution were established at Aberystwyth . In the meantime he worked hard to further the cause — speaking at public meetings, writing to the press, etc. His dream was realised when, in 1905 , a committee of the Privy Council decided that Aberystwyth should be the home of the National Library and again, when, before the end of Jan. 1909 , he was able to transfer the Peniarth manuscripts (of which he had become the sole owner only a few weeks previously) to the National Library of Wales which had begun its career on the first day of that month in its temporary home, the Old Assembly Rooms , Aberystwyth . Sir John also transferred the Llanstephan manuscripts (formerly the Shirburn Castle manuscripts ) and the bulk of his valuable collection of books, etc. It was, therefore but natural that he should have been named (in 1907 ) as the first (Charter) president of the National Library and that he should be re-elected on more than one occasion. He came to live at Aberystwyth in Sept. 1909 . When he d. ( 24 May 1926 ), it was learnt that he had also bequeathed to the Library a very large sum of money (the capital of which is being retained in perpetuity) together with the residue of his private library. Sir John succeeded lord Rendel (q.v.) as president of Aberystwyth College in 1913 .
Sir William Llewelyn Davies, M.A., LL.D., F.S.A. (1887-1952), Aberystwyth
Published date: 1959