James Cornelius Morrice.

Wales in the seventeenth century : its literature and men of letters and action online

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death, p. 509. * Cambrian Register, 1795, p. 158. 3 ibid, p. 159. ibid,
p. 160.



illiberal men's liberalities. The book of Diarhebion y wor. shall
see by the bearer, gathered of 2 or 3 several copies and made as
large as the former copy lost .... I beseech you keep the book
de Statibits."

It is evident that afterwards an understanding was arrived at
concerning the Dictionary, and it came into Sir John Wynn's
possession. Correspondence between him and Dr. John Davies
proves this. It will be found in the pages of the Cambrian
Register, 1796. Dr. Davies had ascertained that Sir John Wynn
had the Dictionary, and he writes : " I have long been desirous,
as I think it is not unknown to you, to see my good old friend
Sir Thomas ap William his Dictionary ; not so much for any
excellent perfection, I could conceive to be in the work, as for the
great pains I know the author had taken to gather it, and, whom,
my cousin Robert Vaughan tells me, you are pleased, I shall have
the book, upon condition, I shall see it printed ; and ascribe all
the glory to Thomas ap William, and dedicate it unto you." '

Sir John Wynn sent him the manuscript, but for some
reason Dr. John Davies never fulfilled either of these conditions.
His own Dictionary he dedicated to Charles, Prince of Wales, as
we have seen, and although he acknowledges his indebtedness for
Part II. of his Dictionary to Thomas Williams, he can hardly be
said to have " ascribed all the glory of it " to him. He certainly
did qualify his promise to Sir John Wynn with two ifs. " If I
shall see it fit for the press, I will acquaint you therewith." ....
"7/"the author have dedicated to you, his dedication shall stand."
He makes it plain to Sir John that he will not bear the expense
of publication " I know you will not expect I shall be at any
charge," and in a second letter he reiterates this : " Now who
shall bear that charge is the first thing to be considered." He
goes on to mention the need of corrections " in divers places,"
and adds : " What authority I shall have over it, lieth in your

The Dictionary, it would appear, was in his possession some

i Cambrian Register, 1796, p. 470.



considerable time, for there is evidence that Sir John Wynn grew
uneasy either about its return, or because of the delay in printing
it. Dr. Davies in his third letter to him, which is evidently a
reply, states : " As for the Dictionary, I am neither forgetful of it,
nor less than abashed, that I kept it so long, and could do so

little good in it Before you wished me to get it copied

verbatim, I had thought, as I writ before, to go over it by
abbreviating and correcting it : But, understanding your pleasure,
I went no further in that course, and, according to your will, I got
some to copy it by parts. I saw their copying of it would do no
good ; and now it lieth by me, and do nothing to it, till I know
your further pleasure. I send you herein enclosed the last sheet
of the copy you wished to be made, being the best and truest that
is written.''

This ends the correspondence with Sir John Wynn, and it is
dated, "Malloid, 15 Maii, 1625."

But there is a further letter written by Dr. Davies to Mr.
Owen Wynn, of Gwydyr. Apparently Sir John Wynn had died
in the meantime, and Dr. Davies writes : " Upon your good
father's desire, I undertook the review of the Welsh Dictionary of
Sir Thomas ap William, but I dwelt so far from your worthy father,
and my then troubles occasioned by Mr. Pigot [the man who had
delayed the delivery of the MS. from Sir John Wynn to Dr. Davies]
hindered my repair to him . . . else it had been ready long ago.

I began upon it April last [i.e. April, 1626] among other

my many businesses ; I made an end of it Saturday last [this letter
is dated 23 Jan. 1627] and shewed it to the bearer, and have much
abridged it, and in some places enlarged it ; but my own Dictionary
[i.e. the first part], which I began since the year 1593, I do but
begin to write fair, yet I hope it will be ready by the beginning of
the summer ' . . . . Sir Thomas ap William hath the Latin first,
and the Welsh following : And mine hath the Welsh first, and the
Latin after: and both will not much exceed the bulk of Sir

1 This shows that Dr. Davies meant to finish the work by the summer of
1627. It appeared in 1632.



Thomas' Dictionary, as it is written by himself ... I will make
the more speed, and endeavour to be ready before midsummer."

To summarise this correspondence : Sir John Wynn wished to
have the book printed for Thomas Williams. Some arrangement
was arrived at by which the latter delivered the MS. into his hands.
Sir John thought Dr. Davies the man best qualified to see to its
publication, and intended him to copy it verbatim. Dr. Davies
considered the work too full of inaccuracies to do this. Thomas
Williams, it would seem, had died before Dr. Davies received the
MS., and during the long time it was in his possession Sir John
Wynn died. Dr. Davies, who had his own Dictionary ready, but
for the writing of a fair copy, conceived the idea of adding a
second part to his book, and for this purpose made extensive but
not exhaustive use of Thomas Williams' manuscript.

The question presents itself did Thomas .Williams' Diar-
liebion also fall into Dr. Davies' hands ? And what of the
Botanologium and the rest of the matter at the end of his book ?
These questions can only be answered when Thomas Williams'
work is given to the world, or after some competent scholar has
compared the two works. There is more than a tinge of suspicion
that the old anchorite of Trefriw, who laboured assiduously for
fifty years at his task, has not yet met with his reward at the
hands of his countrymen.

James Howell, of Abernant, whose other work has received
considerable notice in previous pages, also contributed to this part
of our subject what was, perhaps, his most celebrated work, viz.,
that entitled :

"Lexicon Tetraglotton, An English-French-Italian-Spanish
Dictionary, whereunto is adjoined a large Nomenclature of the
proper Terms (in all the fovvr) belonging to several Arts,
and Sciences, to Recreations, to Professions both Liberal
and Mechanick, &c. Divided to Fiftie two Sections ; With
another Volume of the Choicest Proverbs in all the Sayed
Toungs, (consisting of divers compleat Tomes) and the
English translated into the other Three, to take off the



reproach which useth to be cast upon Her, that She is but
barren in this point, and those Proverbs She hath, are but
flat and empty : Moreover, Ther are sundry familiar Letters
and Verses running all in Proverbs, with a particular Tome
of the British, or old Cambrian Sayed-Sawes and Adages,
which the author thought fit to annex hereunto, and make
Intelligible, for their great Antiquity and Weight : Lastly,
there are five Centuries of New Sayings, which, in tract of
Time, may serve for Proverbs to Posterity. By the Labours,
and Lucubrations of James Howell, Esq. Senesco, non
Segnesco. London, Printed by Thomas Leach." *
The Welsh part of this remarkable book has a separate title-
page, and the pages are numbered separately. The Welsh title
reads : " Diharebion Cymraeg, VVedu ei cyfieithu yn Saisoneg,
British or old Cambrian Proverbs, and Cymraecan Adages, never
Englished, (and divers never published) before." There is an
" Epistle Dedicatory to the Right Honorable, (My most endeered
Lord) Richard, Earl of Carbery, &c. At His Palace in Golden-
Grove." It is dated " London 4 Idus Martii, 1658." There is
also another dedication, " To the Knowing Reder," and " A
Letter to the Author from a worthy Gentleman, who supplied him
with som British Proverbs," written by one, Richard Owen, and
dated "Eltham in Kent, Aug. 20, 1657."

This work, which must have involved infinite labour, was of
more interest to English readers than it could have been to the
main body of Welshmen in the Principality at that time, for there
are only 48 pages of its contents in the Welsh language. It has
many inaccuracies, which show the erratic character of its author,
but, nevertheless, it proves him to have been a man of wide
interests and considerable attainments. He was certainly a man
of genius, but his undertakings were so numerous and the path of
his life so uneven, that his work correspondingly suffers. If fate
had been kinder, James Howell could have attained a position of
eminence both in Welsh and English literature, that would have
placed him in the foremost rank of litterateurs of that age.

* Llyfr, y Cymry> pp. 181-2. Hants Lltnyddiaeth Gymreig, pp. 52-3



THERE are a few eminent Welshmen and writers whose
works do not admit of classification in the previous chapters,
but who contributed in various ways to literature and other
activities in this century.

The purpose of this chapter is " to gather up the fragments
that remain," in order to make the survey as complete as space and
opportunity will allow.

Arise Evans published a book, in 1652, relating the history
of his own strange life. Mr. J. H. Davies in his admirable little
book "Hen Ddewiniaid Cymne" published in 1901, gives an in-
teresting account of this eccentric character, and of Arise Evans'
autobiography he writes, " Nid oes odid lyfr yn yr iaith Seisnig
mor rhyfedd a hwn." The author's correct name was Rhys
Evans, and he was born at Llangelynin, near Barmouth, in 1607.
At a very early age he developed a tendency to mysticism, and
claimed to be continually seeing " visions." In 1629 he went to
London, and in one of his first " visions " there he saw the city
burned to the ground, which is, at least, strange ; for the book in
which he records this appeared in 1652, fourteen years before the
Great Fire took place. He wrote a letter to Charles I. relating
many of his weird dreams, and endeavoured to obtain an inter-
view with the King, but his purpose was thwarted. Later on he
transferred his attention to the Earl of Essex, who was more
approachable, but gave him scant encouragement. When the
Civil W T ar broke out, he was very active in London, and was
several times imprisoned.

On one occasion he predicted to Oliver Cromwell the restor-
ation of Charles II. 1 and made bold to tell the Protector, in the
presence of his daughters, that he should offer one of them in
marriage to the fugitive Prince of Wales.

He also prophesied that four more monarchs would reign in
England before a change of dynasty ; in fact, he mentioned five
1 Htn Ddewiniaid Cymrn, p. 20.



crowned heads, which, strangely enough, proved correct, when
Queen Mary, the spouse of William III. is included. The year of
Evans' death is not known, but he lived to see the Restoration,
and it is recorded that he was touched by the King for Kings
evil. The following books and pamphlets were published by him :
"The Bloudy Vision of John Farley," 1653; "An Eccho to
the Book, called a Voice from Heaven," 1653; "A Voice from
Heaven to the Commonwealth of England," 1653; "To His
Excellencie The Lord General Cromwell," 1653; "The Voice of
the Iron Rod, Being a Seasonable Admonition to Cromwell, and
to all Judicious men." 1655; "The Voice of King Charles the
Father, to Charles the Son," 1655.

There were also two men named John Evans, who
flourished as mystics and soothsayers in this period. The first is
believed to have been the author of the book called " The Palace
of Profitable Pleasure," which was published in 162 1. 1 The
second was the mentor of the notorious William Lilly, who, in his
own biography, relates much of John Evans' history, He
mentions that he was a Welshman, who had graduated at Oxford
and had held Church preferment in Staffordshire, but had ruined
himself through intemperance. In 1634 John Evans published a
book entitled, " The Universal Medecine or the Virtues of my
Magnetical or' Antimonial Cup," of which another edition appeared
in 1642. Much confusion has arisen between this John Evans
and Arise Evans, to the great disadvantage of the latter.

Richard Baxter made considerable researches in Wales as to
divination and spiritualism, and wrote a book on the subject,
entitled, " The Certainty of the Worlds of Spirits Fully evinced
by unquestionable Histories of Apparitions and Witchcrafts,
Written for the Conviction of Sadduces and Infidels By Richard
Baxter." London. i6qi. 2 A Welsh gentleman named John Lewis,
of Glasgrug, near Aberystwyth, was in frequent correspondence
with Baxter on this subject. The former, who published three
books in Welsh, two of which related to education and religion in

1 Hen Ddewiniaid Cymrt4, p. 26. 2 ibid, p. 38.


Wales, was one of the first to conceive the idea of a National
University. In the Civil War he showed strong sympathy with
Cromwell and the Parliament." 1

Thomas Pugh, of whom nothing is known except that he
published "British and Outlandish Prophesies," in 1658, a work
which is mentioned in the first chapter of this book, was also a
mystic, as its title indicates. He wrote that work to please
Cromwell, whom he looked upon as the long-expected deliverer
of the nation, and predicted for him world -wide influence. The
Protector, however, no doubt to Thomas Pugh's discomfiture, died
within a short time of its publication.

Sir William Jones was the eldest son and heir of William
Jones, Esq., of Castellmarch, in Carnarvonshire, 2 the ancient seat
of the family, where he was born in 1566. Wood states that he
was educated first at the Free School in Beaumaris, but Canon
Williams, in his Eminent Welshmen^ denies this. Both agree that
at the age of 14 he proceeded to St. Edmund's Hall, Oxford,
and that he afterwards went to Lincoln's Inn. He was called to
the bar in 1595, became a Bencher in 1611, and was Lent Reader
in 1616. He is also said to have spent two years at Furnival's
Inn. He was M.P. for Beaumaris 1597-8, and again in 1604-11
and 1614. In 1 60 1 he sat for the county of Carnarvon. In 1617
he was made Sergeant -at -Law, and in the same year was knighted
and took up the position of Chief Justice in Ireland, a dignity
which he held for three years, and left at his own request. In
1621 he was made a Justice of the Common Pleas, in England,
and in 1623 was raised to the King's Bench. He died in his
house in Holborn in 1640, and was buried under the chapel of
Lincoln's Inn.

His writings are on legal subjects. He collected " Reports
of divers special cases in the Courts of King's Bench and
Common Pleas," which contain the cases of greatest remark
during the time he was Judge in those Courts (1622-1640). These

1 Htn DJeioiniaid Cynint, p. 45. "Athen : OJTOH : i., pp. 543-4, and
Williams' Eminent Welshmen t p. 266. See also Williams' Part, ffist. of
Princ* of H'ales*


were published in folio in 1675. He also published " Several
Speeches in Parliament." Sir William Jones was a distinguished
Welshman, a Counsellor of high repute, and an able Judge.
Wood informs us that "he constantly kept Oxford Circuit as

Thomas Jones, son of Edward Jones, of Nant Eos,
Cardiganshire, was born at that place in 1618, elected Probationer
Fellow of Merton College, Oxford, in I638, 1 and after taking
his degree he travelled in France and Italy with George Brent,
son of Sir Nathan Brent, until about 1647, when he returned to
Oxford, submitted to the Parliamentary Visitors, Aug. 6, 1649,
and proceeded to his M.A. degree. He afterwards applied
himself to the study of Civil Law, and proceeded to a doctorate
in that Faculty in 1659. He was a good Greek and Hebrew
scholar, and in 1660 he published several books of Jurisprudence, 2
in which he showed great capacity. Their titles are :

1. "Oratio habita in Auditorio juridico, cum Recitationes
solennes in Titulum de Judiciis auspicatus est." Oxford,

2. "De Judiciis, ubi de Persona & Officio Judicis apud Ebraeos
& Romanes late disputatur." Printed with the former.

3. "De Origine Dominii & servitutis Theses Juridicae," also
printed with the above.

After leaving Oxford he practised in London at Doctor's
Commons. He died of the Great Plague in 1665.

John Roberts, the Benedictine, was born at Trawsfynydd,
in Merionethshire, in 1575 or 1576.3 His father, John Roberts,
a man of good lineage, was a merchant, who in his travels married
Anna, daughter of Paul Arderike, a native of the duchy of
Holstein. 4 At the age of 19 he went to St. John's College,
Oxford, the college of Laud and John Scudamore, both of whom
were contemporaries, where he matriculated in 1595-6. He left
the University in 1598, went to London, and was there admitted

1 Atken : O.wn : ii., p. 361. 2 Williams' Eminent Welshmen^ p, 262.
3 Camm's Benedictine Martyr* p. 21. 4 ibid, p. 23,


into one of the Inns of Court. In the summer of that year he
left England for a Continental tour. In Paris he got into touch
with numerous Roman Catholic exiles from England, and in the
Church of Notre Dame he was received into the Roman com-
munion. ' He afterwards met Father John Cecil, one of the first
English students at Valladolid, who was then staying in Paris.
The latter gave Roberts letters to the authorities of the seminary
at Valladolid, whence he proceeded in September, 1598, and was
admitted into the English College of St. Albans, which had been
founded in 1589-90 through the efforts of Robert Parsons, and
had by this time 53 students. In the Liber primi examinis of
that college occurs the following entry, under 1598 : "Joannes
Robert us vetdt ad hoc collegium 15 Septembris" just two days after
the death of Philip II. of Spain, a patron of that institution, and
the avowed enemy of England. Amongst the Benedictines at
Valladolid was Mark Barkworth, who afterwards, like Roberts
himself, died on the scaffold. Roberts became known to the
Benedictine Order in Spain as John de Mervinia 2 (a Latinised
form of Merioneth).

Two other Welshmen were prominent in the same institution,
viz., Augustine Baker and Leander Jones. In 1600 Roberts was
formally received into the Benedictine Order, and was ordained
priest in 1602.3 In that year, in obedience to a papal decree, he
set out for England, and arrived there just after the death of
Elizabeth in 1603, after staying some months at Paris. Lewis
Owen in his " Running Register " states that Roberts was the first
of the order to derive his Mission to England from the Pope,
" which made him not a little proud that hee should bee a second
Augustine monk." His coming had, however, been reported by a
spy, a former friend, and he was arrested and thrown into prison,
but was released as an act of grace by James I. on his arrival from
Scotland, and deported. He went to Douay, but returned in a
very short time, and did good service during the great plague
which visited England in 1603. * He was again arrested, this time

'Camm's Benedictine Martyr, pp. 42-3. - ibid, p. 86. 3 ibid, p. 133.
4 ibid, p. 157.

3 2 9


in the house of Thomas Percy, a conspirator in the Gunpowder
Plot, and committed to the Gatehouse prison. At the intercession
of the French ambassador, his life was spared, and he was again
deported. He remained at Douay for 14 months, and was made
first prior of St. Gregory. In 1607 he returned, was arrested,
and committed to the same prison, from which he escaped. He
was recaptured, but again deported owing to the intervention of the
French ambassador. He stayed some time in Spain, but returned
to England for the last time in 1610, just after most stringent
laws had been passed against Romanists. He was seized and put
on his trial at Newgate on Dec. 5th, 1610, before Lord Chief
Justice Coke, and other judges. Refusing to take the oath of
Allegiance, he confessed to his Orders after some pressure, was
found guilty of high treason and sentenced to death. The
sentence was consummated on Dec. loth, 1610.

Thomas Jones (Twm Shon Catty) was the natural son of
Sir John Wynn, of Gwydir, 1 by Catherine Jones, a native of
Tregaron, who lived at Llidiart y Ffynnon, in that village. 2 As a
youth he lived a life of wild adventure, and he records his
escapades in a very diverting book entitled " The Adventures of
Twm Shon Catty." Quite early in life he showed antiquarian
propensities, and these were, no doubt encouraged by Dr. John
Dafydd Rhys, with whom he became acquainted when the latter
was curate of Tregaron. Dr. Rhys took great delight in instruct-
ing the sharpwitted youth, and was much revered by him in turn.
At the age of 15, Thomas Jones was apprenticed to a farmer at
Cwm y Gwern Ddu. Here he was very harshly treated, and fell a
victim to that common pest of the time, the smallpox, to which
he nearly succumbed. He afterwards entered the Service of
Squire Graspacre, the local landowner, who had married Sir John
Wynn's sister, where his lot was considerably ameliorated. Under
Rhys' tuition his love of reading was developed, and with it came a
distaste for servitude. He played several practical jokes upon his
master, but never quite lost his favour. Amongst his adventures

1 Prichatd's edn. of Twm Skon Catty (1859), p. 8. 2 ibid, p. 9.


were included singing ballads at Cardigan fair in the disguise of a
woman, and rescuing the lady of Ystrad Feen, in addition to
several exploits in which he got the better of highwaymen. He
afterwards went to London, and in rather a pathetic scene dis-
closed his identity to his father. His career of adventure ended
by marrying the widow of Sir George Devereux, of Ystrad Feen,
to whom he had once revealed his affection in Cywyddy Gqfid.
He built a mansion at the side of his mother's cottage, and settled
down into a respectable and useful citizen, becoming J.P. for the
county of Brecon. He was of some celebrity as an antiquary,
poet, and genealogist, and his knowledge of heraldry is said to
have been profound. He died in i62o. z

John Jones, Ll.D., entered Jesus College, Oxford, 2 in
1672, and studied Law. He afterwards practised physic at
Windsor, and became Chancellor of Llandaff. He was a man of
learning and ingenuity, and in 1683 he published a Latin treatise
on intermittent fevers. He died in 1709.

John Jones, son of John Jones, of Llanelian, in Denbigh-
shire, was entered as Student in New Inn, Oxford, in 1675, aged
20 years, and was afterwards transferred to Trinity College, from
which he took theB.A. degree in 1681. He subsequently became
Usher of the Free School at St. Alban's, in Hertfordshire, and
was esteemed a good Latin poet. He wrote :

"Fanum S. Albani Poema carmine Heroico." Lond. 1683.
and dedicated the book to Sir Hardbottle Grimstone, Master of
the Rolls. He died a young man in 1686, and as a mark of the
respect in which he was held, a public memorial was placed over
his grave at St. Alban's. 3

Walter Rumsey was born at Llanover, in Monmouth, in
1584, proceeded to Gloucester Hall, Oxford, at the age of 16,
and afterwards to Gray's Inn, where he was made Barrister,
Puncher, and Lent Reader. In 1635 he was appointed Puisne
Judge in the Brecon Circuit, and in 1637 he became Chief
Justice. He was so eminent in his profession that he was called

'Williams' Eminent W'ekhmeii, p. 262. 'ibid, p. 256. 3 Athett :
Oxon : ii. , p. 799.



" the picklock of the Law." J In 1640 he was elected one of the
Knights of the Shire for Monmouth, and entered Parliament, but
he refused to serve in the Long Parliament. He had other
pursuits besides the law, and Wood states 2 that he was a most
ingenious man, and that " he had a philosophical head and was a
good musician, and most curious for grafting, inoculating, and
planting." He invented the provang, a medical instrument made
of whalebone, to cleanse the throat and stomach. His book,
entitled Organon Salutis, 1657 and 1659, is a description of this
instrument. He added to this another work, " Divers new
experiments of the virtue of Tobacco and Coffee," to which Sir
Henry Blount and James Howell wrote commendatory Epistles.
Sir Walter Rumsey died in 1660, and was buried in the parish
church at Llanover.

Thomas Vaughan (1622-1666), twin brother of Henry
Vaughan, the Silurist, was born on April iyth, 1622, at Skethrog,
Brecon, went to school at Llangattock, where he was taught by
the rector of that parish, and received from him a sound classical
education. In 1638 he proceeded to Jesus College, Oxford, but

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Online LibraryJames Cornelius MorriceWales in the seventeenth century : its literature and men of letters and action → online text (page 26 of 28)