Dictionary of Welsh Biography

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WILLIAMS , MORRIS ( Nicander ; 1809 - 1874 ), cleric and man of letters ;

b. at Caernarvon , 20 Aug. 1809 , son of William Morris and Sarah his wife (she was a sister of Peter Jones [ Pedr Fardd , q.v.] , and had been maidservant to Dewi Wyn [q.v.] — her husband had been a servant to Robert ap Gwilym Ddu [q.v.] ). When he was a child, his parents moved to Coed Cae Bach , Llangybi, Caerns. He had some schooling at Llanystumdwy and was apprenticed to a carpenter ; he began to write poetry , and in 1827 published an awdl in which proper names from the Bible are woven into an intricate metrical pattern. He took advantage of the literary tradition and activity of the district where he lived, and since he showed obvious proclivities towards scholarship, he was helped to enter the King's school at Chester . He matriculated at Oxford from Jesus College in April 1832 , and graduated B.A. in 1835 in the second class in ‘Litterae Humaniores’; he took his M.A. in 1838 . He was ordained deacon by the bishop of Chester in 1835 , and priest by bishop Carey of S. Asaph in Oct. 1836 , having been licensed to Holywell as curate in April of that year. After a short period in Bangor diocese , he was re-licensed to Holywell in June 1838 , but became curate of Bangor and Pentir in Feb. 1840 , moving to Llanllechid in April 1845 . He was appointed perpetual curate of Amlwch (with Llanwenllwyfo ) in Jan. 1847 , and rector of Llanrhuddlad (with Llanfflewin and Llanrhwydrus ) in Oct. 1859 . He was at various times rural dean of Twrcelyn and Talebolion , and d. at Llanrhuddlad on 3 Jan. 1874 ; he was buried there and there is a tablet in the church in his memory; there is also a marble pulpit in Bangor cathedral . In 1840 he m. Ann Jones of Denbigh ; they had five daughters and three sons. One son, WILLIAM WILLIAMS , became headmaster of Friars school , Bangor [from 1879 to 1919 ; he d. 23 Feb. 1938 , at the age of 87; in 1901 he published his father's work, Damhegion Esop ar Gân] ; and another, Richard , headmaster of Cowbridge grammar school .

Whilst at Holywell , Nicander assisted with the revision of the Welsh version of the Book of Common Prayer , and from the time of the Aberffraw eisteddfod of 1849 onwards, when he won the chair for an awdl on the Creation, he took a prominent part in Welsh literary life; he frequently adjudicated and competed at the national eisteddfod . He contributed often to Welsh magazines, translated Aesop's Fables into Welsh , and composed a number of hymns . Among his publications are Y Flwyddyn Eglwysig , 1843 ; translations of Dr. Sutton 's Disce Vivere and Disce Mori , 1847 , 1848 ; an edition of Llyfr yr Homiliau , 1847 ; a metrical version of the Psalter , 1850 ; an edition of the works of Dafydd Ionawr , 1851 ; and a number of essays on church matters. An interesting selection of his letters to Ebenezer Thomas ( Eben Fardd ) may be found in Adgof Uwch Anghof , 1883 . He was one of the pioneers of the Oxford Movement in the diocese of Bangor .


  • Oxford Dictionary of National Biography ;
  • 'Adgof uwch Anghof.' Llythyrau lluaws o Brif Enwogion Cymru (1883) ;
  • A. O. Evans , A Chapter in the History of the Welsh Book of Common Prayer; or, the letters which were written preparatory to the revised edition of 1841. Annotated, with biographical sketches (Bangor, 1922) ;
  • Y Geninen , 1884, 1887 ;
  • Yr Haul , 1874 ;
  • Bangor and S. Asaph diocesan documents in N.L.W.;
  • Y Gwyliedydd , 1827 ;
  • Y Gwyddoniadur Cymreig (1889-96) .
  • [On W. Glynn Williams, see The Domincian (Bangor, 1957) (Bangor), July 1957 , 72-6.]


Thomas Iorwerth Ellis, M.A., (1899-1970), Aberystwyth

Published date: 1959