Dictionary of Welsh Biography

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REES , Sir JAMES FREDERICK ( 1883 - 1967 ), Principal of the University College at Cardiff ;

b. 13 Dec. 1883 son of John Rees , Priory Hill and later of Hakin , Milford Haven, Pembs. , a dock worker . He was educated in the local board school before gaining a scholarship to the local intermediate school on 24 Jan. 1898 ; he entered the University College at Cardiff in 1901 , where he graduated with Class 1 in History in 1904 . In 1908 he gained Class I in the school of Modern History at Lincoln College , Oxford . He became an assistant lecturer in History in the University College at Bangor , 1908-12 , a lecturer for a short while in Queen's University , Belfast , and then a Reader in Economic History at Edinburgh University , 1913 , until he became Professor of Commerce in Birmingham University in 1925 . In 1929 he was appointed Principal of the University College at Cardiff , a post he held for 20 yrs. He was vice-chancellor of the University of Wales twice 1935-37 and 1944-46 , and Warden of the Guild of Graduates , 1950-53 . After retiring in 1949 he went to Ceylon (Sri Lanka) University in 1953-55 as a visiting Professor in Economics , and served as head of the department of Economic History at Edinburgh University , 1956-58 .

As a man of uncommon wisdom, insight and energy, he became a member of many industrial and constitutional committees . He was chairman of the Consultative Committee on the Welsh Problems of Reconstruction , 1942-46 , and was a member of the commission on Reforming the Constitution of Sri Lanka , 1944-45 and of the Local Government Boundary Commission , 1946-49 . He received honorary LL.D. degrees of the Universities of Wales , Birmingham and Edinburgh , and was knighted in 1945 when he was in Sri Lanka . In 1955 he served as High Sheriff for his native county, and was president of the Cambrian Archaeological Association , 1956-57 .

He was the author of many books, including A social and industrial history of England, 1815-1918 ( 1920 ), A short fiscal and financial history of England, 1815-1918 ( 1921 ), Studies in Welsh history ( 1947 ); The story of Milford ( 1954 ), The problem of Wales and other essays ( 1960 ); and editor of A survey of economic development with special reference to Great Britain ( 1933 ), and The Cardiff region: a survey ( 1960 ). Many of his articles appear in history society journals, encyclopaedias, Cambridge History of the British Empire and The Dictionary of Welsh Biography down to 1940 . Several of his public addresses have been published, among them The dominion of Ceylon ( 1949 ) and the B.B.C. Welsh regional annual lecture entitled Of Welsh nationality and historians ( 1951 ).

He m. in 1913 Dora Rose Lucile , dau. of Gethin Davies , Principal of the Baptist College , Cardiff and they had one son. He d. 7 Jan 1967 at his home, 11 Celyn Grove , Cyncoed , Cardiff .


  • Who was who? ;
  • information supplied by the archivist at Haverfordwest.


Evan David Jones, F.S.A., (1903-87), Aberystwyth

Published date: 2001