J. Gwenogvryn Evans Family Papers,

Scope and Content

Papers from the library of J. Gwenogvryn Evans, [1440x1930], including transcripts, manuscripts, deeds, essays, ledgers and account books acquired by J. Gwenogvryn Evans some of which are in the autograph of Robert Vaughan and John Jones of Gellilyfdy; transcripts of various manuscripts, the Red Book of Hergest, Llyfr Gwyn Rhydderch and The Book of Aneirin by J. Gwenogvryn Evans; manuscripts, proofs and printed copies of the Historical Manuscripts Commission Report on manuscripts in the Welsh Language and other works produced by J. Gwenogvryn Evans; facsimilies and photographic prints of pages of Welsh manuscripts; indexes and glossaries; translations and notes on manuscripts by J. Gwenogvryn Evans; notebooks and scrapbooks; printing blocks; and personal items; together with J. Gwenogvryn Evans correspondence and family papers, comprising letters to his wife Edith (neé Hunter), 1860-1898, from J. Gwenogvryn Evans, relatives and friends, with some reflecting also her work as Secretary of the Carmarthen branch of the RSPCA; letters to J. Gwenogvryn Evans, 1875-1888, from various correspondents; letters to Edith Hunter's father, Rev. Stephenson Hunter, 1843-1875; family correspondence, 1832-1879, including letters to Edith Hunter's mother, Julia Hunter, and her grandmother; miscellaneous correspondence and autographs, 1832-1867, collected by Edith Hunter; biographical material relating to Rev. Stephenson Hunter, [1818x1875]; and family papers, including notebooks and notes [1840s]-1884. 4 boxes of correspondence remain uncatalogued.

Administrative / Biographical History

John Gwenogvryn Evans (1852-1930), palaeographer, was born at Ffynnon-felfed, Llanybydder, Carmarthenshire, but his family soon moved to Llanwenog, Cardiganshire, in honour of which parish he later coined his second name. At the age of 16, Evans was apprenticed to his uncle, a grocer in Lampeter, but at 18, following an accident, he went back to school, and entered the Presbyterian College at Carmarthen in 1872. He was ordained as a Unitarian minister 1876, and served as pastor at Carmarthen and Preston, Lancashire, but was forced to give up the ministry in 1880 when he lost his voice, a legacy of childhood typhoid attacks which affected his health for the rest of his life. In 1877, he married Edith Hunter, the Secretary of the Carmarthen Branch of the RSPCA; she died in 1923. Her father, the Rev. Stephenson Hunter, was Principal of the Presbyterian College, Carmarthen. Moving to Oxford in 1880, Evans attended lectures on the Mabinogi by the Celtic scholar Sir John Rhys (1840-1915), and was inspired to study and transcribe the Red Book of Hergest. From this came the idea of a series of diplomatic editions of mediaeval Welsh texts, the first volume of which appeared 1887. Such was the success of this project that he was awarded a Civil List pension of £200 in 1893, and in 1894 he was appointed inspector of Welsh manuscripts for the Historical Manuscripts Commission, producing reports which have been indispensable ever since. He took a leading part in the negotiations which enabled Sir John Williams (1840-1926) to purchase the Peniarth manuscripts, thereby contributing substantially to the establishment of the National Library of Wales. Evans became a member of the Library's Court and Council as a nominee of the Privy Council, and also served as a justice of the Peace in Cardiganshire and as a member of the Court and Council of the University College of Wales. He retired to Llanbedrog, Caernarfonshire, where he continued printing old Welsh texts on a small hand-press. In his later years, he was more interested in interpreting texts than reproducing them, but his theories concerning the 'Aneirin' and 'Taliesin' poems met with little acceptance amongst scholars.

Arrangement

Arranged into 3 groups: manuscripts; J. Gwenogvryn Evans papers; and family papers.

Access Information

Readers consulting modern papers in the National Library of Wales are required to sign the 'Modern papers - data protection' form.

Acquisition Information

Deposited by Col Emrys H. Evans, London, 1930

Note

John Gwenogvryn Evans (1852-1930), palaeographer, was born at Ffynnon-felfed, Llanybydder, Carmarthenshire, but his family soon moved to Llanwenog, Cardiganshire, in honour of which parish he later coined his second name. At the age of 16, Evans was apprenticed to his uncle, a grocer in Lampeter, but at 18, following an accident, he went back to school, and entered the Presbyterian College at Carmarthen in 1872. He was ordained as a Unitarian minister 1876, and served as pastor at Carmarthen and Preston, Lancashire, but was forced to give up the ministry in 1880 when he lost his voice, a legacy of childhood typhoid attacks which affected his health for the rest of his life. In 1877, he married Edith Hunter, the Secretary of the Carmarthen Branch of the RSPCA; she died in 1923. Her father, the Rev. Stephenson Hunter, was Principal of the Presbyterian College, Carmarthen. Moving to Oxford in 1880, Evans attended lectures on the Mabinogi by the Celtic scholar Sir John Rhys (1840-1915), and was inspired to study and transcribe the Red Book of Hergest. From this came the idea of a series of diplomatic editions of mediaeval Welsh texts, the first volume of which appeared 1887. Such was the success of this project that he was awarded a Civil List pension of £200 in 1893, and in 1894 he was appointed inspector of Welsh manuscripts for the Historical Manuscripts Commission, producing reports which have been indispensable ever since. He took a leading part in the negotiations which enabled Sir John Williams (1840-1926) to purchase the Peniarth manuscripts, thereby contributing substantially to the establishment of the National Library of Wales. Evans became a member of the Library's Court and Council as a nominee of the Privy Council, and also served as a justice of the Peace in Cardiganshire and as a member of the Court and Council of the University College of Wales. He retired to Llanbedrog, Caernarfonshire, where he continued printing old Welsh texts on a small hand-press. In his later years, he was more interested in interpreting texts than reproducing them, but his theories concerning the 'Aneirin' and 'Taliesin' poems met with little acceptance amongst scholars.

The following sources were consulted in the compilation of this description: NLW, Schedule of Dr. John Gwenogvryn Evans Papers; NLW, Schedule of Minor Lists and Summaries 1985; Dictionary of Welsh Biography down to 1940 (London, 1959).

Title supplied from contents of fonds.

Other Finding Aids

A hard copy of the catalogue is available in Minor Lists and Summaries 1985 at the National Library of Wales.

Archivist's Note

April 2003

Compiled by David Moore for the ANW project.

Conditions Governing Use

Usual copyright regulations apply.

Appraisal Information

Action: All records have been retained..

Custodial History

The 1972 deposit was formerly NLW Minor Deposit 1140B, but after another deposit was made in 1985 the two were combined and treated as a single archive. The envelopes have been returned to the depositor, except where they provide additional information.

Accruals

Accruals are not expected.

Related Material

The books listed in the 1930 schedule have been transferred to NLW, Bibliographic Data Department. Further papers relating to J. Gwenogvryn Evans are NLW, Timothy Lewis Papers.

Additional Information

Published

Llyfrgell Genedlaethol Cymru = The National Library of Wales