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In 1937 he became editor of the history and law section of the Bulletin of the Board of Celtic Studies , in 1938 assistant editor of Y Bywgraffiadur Cymreig and in 1947 , after the death of Sir J.E. Lloyd , joint-editor with Sir William Llewelyn Davies (see above) . The Welsh version appeared first in 1953 and when its English counterpart, The Dictionary of Welsh Biography down to 1940 , was published in 1959 , incorporating numerous corrections and additions, he was the sole editor . He had already given substantial service to the Hon. Soc. of Cymm. for, with Helen Ramage , he had prepared A History of the Honourable Society of Cymmrodorion to celebrate the bicentenary in 1951 . He was Warden of the Guild of Graduates of the Univ. of Wales from 1940 to 1943 and a member of the Councils of the National Library and the National Museum of Wales . The degree of D. Litt. of the University of Wales was conferred upon him in 1939 and the LL.D., honoris causa (Wales) , in 1956 . In 1953 he was honoured with the Gold Medal of the Hon. Soc. of Cymm. In 1956 he was appointed C.B.E.
R.T. Jenkins was a many-sided man. His interests extended into various directions, including theology and architecture . France always remained close to his heart. As early as 1922 , in an article in Y Llenor , he drew his countrymen's attention to the Catholic reaction in France . He had often travelled in France and he loved her fertile valleys and her tiny castellated towns, especially in those areas where the remains of Rome and of the middle ages were most marked. Yet his interest in Brittany was slight and Pan-Celtic ideas he considered bogus. His book on France and her people, Ffrainc a'i phobl , endures as an exceedingly readable introduction for the Welsh -speaking Welshman who wishes to understand the roots of French civilization. He had an unusually tenacious memory — rather like glue, he once said — but he was not overwhelmed by the detailed information always at his finger-tips. Indeed, he was never much enamoured of the formal apparatus of scholarship for his works aimed at a wider readership than a band of experts and he was loath to bewilder the ordinary, intelligent reader with the many footnotes which are handmaidens to other scholars. On the whole, The Moravian brethren in north Wales ( 1938 ) is rather an exception, though it is certainly very readable. His chief purpose was to discover the individual in his own habitat and to weigh the ideas and motives which impelled him to act as he did in fair weather and in foul. He compressed his astute remarks within the bounds of short paragraphs where others multiplied words over many pages. (Consider, for example, his treatment of conservatism in Hanes Cymru yn y bedwaredd ganrif ar bymtheg ( 1933 ), pp. 29-32, or of the differences between the old Dissenters and the Methodists in Yng nghysgod Trefeca ( 1968 ), pp. 22ff). Like Sir J.E. Lloyd , whom he so much admired, he had a thorough knowledge of the land and soil of Wales , and on foot, by bus or in a friend's car he measured by the pipeful the travels which were the firm foundation of his historical writing. Although it was for children that he wrote on the roads of Wales , Y ffordd yng Nghymru ( 1933 ), it would be difficult to find a better introduction to the history of Wales . He succeeded in conveying the magic and the flavour of the centuries, but his chief field was the 18th cent., especially Methodism . He was sufficiently close to that tempestuous movement to understand the fiery forces released by successive revivals and yet to remain sufficiently impartial and sound of judgement to reject the old denominational prejudices which had poisoned the history of religion in Wales until his own day. It is not surprising that it was this Methodist who was invited to write an account of a notable Congregational cause, the excellent Hanes cynulleidfa hen gapel Llanuwchllyn ( 1937 ). He has been compared to Macaulay , J.R. Green and Maitland , and although there is a grain of truth in each of these assertions, his own ideal was G.M. Trevelyan . Yet, at bottom he was unique and in Wales there has been no one like him. Nor should be lightly dismissed his work, together with William Rees (his former pupil at Brecon ), in preparing The Bibliography of the history of Wales ( 1931 ), nor on any account his selfless commitment to The Dictionary of Welsh Biography . In addition to his editorial duties he wrote six hundred pieces, and both versions have guided our footsteps.
A number of essays appeared in Casglu Ffyrdd ( 1956 ), Ymyl y ddalen ( 1957 ), Yng nghysgod Trefeca ( 1968 ) and Cyfoedion ( 1974 ). It was the essay which appealed to him most, and doubtless his conversational style, his use of brackets and italics were more appropriate here than in other literary forms. During World War II he became convinced that it was his duty to prepare light literature for the public at large rather than scholarly studies. He cooperated happily with D.R. Hughes (see above) and others to prepare the monthly, Cofion Cymru distributed gratis to Welsh -speaking Welshmen who served in the armed forces throughout the world to keep them in touch with Wales and their heritage. He believed that he had contributed to every issue of Cofion , and his short stories appeared under the pseudonym Idris Thomas , which he also used to disguise his authorship of Ffynhonnau Elim ( Llyfrau'r Dryw , 1945 ), where the conversation is in a south Wales dialect. His other novel was the splendid masterpiece Orinda ( 1943 ), which recreates the troubled atmosphere of the Commonwealth and Restoration and its effect upon a Fellow of Jesus College , Oxford . Shortly before his death there appeared a volume of his memoirs, Edrych yn ôl ( 1968 ), surely the most entertaining autobiography ever written in Welsh . As schoolmaster and lecturer he was peerless; learning and humour flowed from him and he won the affection of his pupils, ‘my younger friends’, as he called them. It was in Bangor that he spent the greater part of his life; there he reached his full maturity and there the recollection of him is at its sweetest and most fragrant. He d. 11 Nov. 1969 , his remains being buried in Bangor cemetery. After a national appeal, the R.T. Jenkins memorial lecture was founded in the college in 1972 .
He m. twice: (1) in 1907 to Mary Davies , Aberystwyth (who d. in 1946 ) and (2) in 1947 to Myfanwy Wyn Williams , Aberdare .
Professor John Gwynn Williams, M.A., Chester / Bangor
Published date: 2001