Gweirydd ap Rhys Papers

Scope and Content

The main group of papers include the autobiography of Gweirydd ap Rhys in which he records in detail his life on Anglesey during the 19th century. Also, there are notes and correspondence and numerous essays composed for Eisteddfod competitions. In particular, there are notes relating to his work on the history of Welsh literature, 1650-1850 for the National Eisteddfod held at Brecon in 1889 and his essay on the history of Welsh literature from 1300 to 1650 for the National Eisteddfod at Cardiff in 1883.

The poetical works of Golyddan, edited by Gweirydd ap Rhys, are included along with the essay on Golyddan written by his father for Y Genhinen.

Administrative / Biographical History

Robert John Pryse was born on 4 July 1807 in Llanbadrig, Anglesey. Following the death of both his parents, he found himself, at a very young age, working as a farm labourer. He gave this up to become a very skilled weaver and it is said that he was asked to supply the mantle material presented to Princess Victoria at the Beaumaris Eisteddfod in 1857. He married Grace Williams in 1828 and they had seven children. They lived in Llanrhyddlad, Anglesey, where they had a shop. During his time as a shopkeeper Robert John Pryse began to educate himself and as a result he moved to Denbigh, Denbighshire in 1857 to work at the printing press of Thomas Gee. There, his work mainly revolved around the journal Y Gwyddoniadur. In 1862 he moved to Bangor, Caernarfonshire to try and earn a living as a writer. He competed in various Eisteddfod competitions and won several prizes. At the National Eisteddfod in Cardiff in 1883 he won £100 for his essay on the history of Welsh Literature from 1300 until 1650. In 1884 he moved to Holyhead, Anglesey to live with his daughter. His wife died in 1887 and he moved again, to Bethesda, Caernarfonshire, to live with his daughter where he died on 3 October 1889.

Robert John Pryse was given the bardic name, Gweirydd ap Rhys, at the Aberffraw Eisteddfod, Anglesey in 1849.

John Robert Pryse, also known by his bardic name Golyddan, was the son of Gweirydd ap Rhys. A poet, he was born in 1840 and attended the British School in Llanrhuddlad, Anglesey. He was sent to the Andersonian College, Glasgow in 1855, where he won two first prizes. In 1860 he went to Edinburgh University where he gained the top place in the first M.D. examination. He died of tuberculosis on 13 November 1862.


The papers were received at different occasions and have as a result been catalogued separately as one main group and two individual items and incorporated into the General Collection of Bangor Manuscripts. The main group has been arranged according to subject.

Conditions Governing Access

Open to all users

Acquisition Information

Donated by the family of Gweirydd ap Rhys


Description compiled by Elen Wyn Hughes, July 2001

Other Finding Aids

An item level list is available at the Department of Manuscripts of the University of Wales Bangor. Reference numbers : General Collection of Bangor Manuscripts 916, 1678-1708, 15265

Conditions Governing Use

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


Ap Rhys, Gweirydd, Hanes y Brytaniaid a'r Cymry : yn wladol, milwrol, cymdeithasol, masnachol, llenorol, a chrefyddol, o'r amseroedd boreuaf hyd yn bresennol (London : W. Mackenzie, 1872-1874)

Ap Rhys, Gweirydd, Hanes llenyddiaeth Gymreig : o'r flwyddyn 1300 hyd y flwyddyn 1650 (Liverpool : Cymdeithas yr Eisteddfod Genedlaethol, 1885)

Roberts, Enid, Detholion o hunangofiant Gweirydd ap Rhys (Llandysul [Wales] : Clwb Llyfrau Cymraeg, 1949)