Nicander Manuscripts

Scope and Content

A collection which consists of 5 items, which includes a volume of holograph poetry, much of it unpublished; an essay entitled 'Traethawd ar Brophwydoliaeth' which was published in 1861 under the title Y Dwyfol Oraclau; letters, 1847-1852 from 'Nicander' to the Rev. Charles Williams, then vicar of Holyhead and later Principal of Jesus College, Oxford; and to Spurell the Carmarthen publisher, 1861-1873; to 'Nicander' from Bishop Thirwall from Abergwili, 1851. Also letters to W. Glynne Williams, son of 'Nicander' and former headmaster of Friars School, Bangor, from Robert Issac Jones ('Alltud Eifion'), Hughes and Son, Wrexham; Ellis Wyn o Wyrfai, R. Ivor Parry, Pwllheli; Charles Ashton, Hwfa Mon, Sir Owen M. Edwards, Owen Humphrey Davies ('Eos Llechid') and John Griffith ('Y Gohebydd') in reply to enquiries about his father's literary work.

Administrative / Biographical History

Morris Williams, who was otherwise known as 'Nicander', was a cleric and a man of letters. Born at Caernarfon, 20 August 1809, he was the son of William and Sarah Morris. Sarah Morris, ne Jones was the sister of Peter Jones ('Pedr Fardd'). When Morris Williams was a child his parents moved to Coed Cae Bach, Llangybi, Caernarvonshire. He had some education 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 were 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 tendencies 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 Bishop Carey of St. Asaph in October 1836, having been licensed to Holywell as curate in April of that year. After a short period at Bangor diocese, he was re-licensed to Holywell in June 1838, but became curate of Bangor and Pentir in February 1840, moving to Llanllechid in April 1845. He was appointed perpetual curate of Amlwch (Llanwenllwyfo) in January 1847 and rector of Llanrhuddlad (with Llanfflewin and Llanrhwydrys) in October 1859. He was at various times rural dean of Twrcelyn and Talybolion.

In 1840 Morris Williams married Ann Jones of Denbigh. They had five daughters and three sons. One son, William Glynn Williams, became headmaster of Friars School, Bangor, and in 1901 published his father's work Damhegion Esop ar Gan. Another son, Richard became 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 1849 and the Aberffraw eisteddfod onwards, when he won the chair for an 'awdl' on the subject of '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. Suttons's 'Disce Vivere', 1847 and 'Disce Mori', 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. He was also one of the pioneers of the Oxford Movement in the diocese of Bangor.

Morris Williams died at Llanrhuddlad on 3 January 1874. There is a tablet in his memory at Llanrhuddlad church where he was buried and at Bangor Cathedral a marble pulpit has been dedicated to him.


No apparent system of arrangement

Conditions Governing Access


Open to all users

Acquisition Information

Papers donated by William Glynn Williams, son of Morris Williams, 'Nicander'.

Other Finding Aids

Catalogue at series level

Separated Material

See index of National Library of Wales Handlist of Manuscripts, vols I, II, III and IV, under Williams , Morris, 'Nicander'.

Conditions Governing Use

Usual copyright conditions apply. Reprographics made at the discretion of the archivist.


None expected

Related Material

Bangor Manuscripts 4871 (75-79), 5690 (13), 5709 (10), 10243, 15101-15102, 34020.


Parry, J., A Series of Letters Addresses to [Rev.] M[orris] Williams [Nicander] Incumbent of Amlwch (?1857). Nicander Chwedlau Esop ar Gan (Llyfrau'r Dryw 1959). The Dictionary of Welsh Biography down to 1940, under the Auspices of the Honourable Society of Cymmrodorion, (London, 1959). Access Points