R. D. Griffith Manuscripts

Scope and Content

A collection of 1494 items being the writings and papers of Robert David Griffith. The bulk of the collection consists of articles and addresses on various aspects of Welsh religious music, including drafts of his book Hanes Canu Cynulleidfaol Cymru, notes on hymn tunes, old manuscript tune books ('llyfrau pricio') collected by R. D. Griffith in the course of his lifetime, original compositions by R. D. Griffith, correspondence, a history of the Penrhyn Quarry strike prepared with a view to publication, and miscellaneous items including a bound volume of printed programmes of various performances of oratorios conducted by R. D. Griffith at Bethesda and Colwyn Bay, 1920-1932 and also of concerts by the Morfa Rhianedd Orchestra, 1940-1943, likewise conducted by him.

Administrative / Biographical History

Robert David Griffith of Old Colwyn was an amateur musician of high standing, an authority on Welsh religious music and author of Hanes Canu Cynulleidfaol Cymru. He was born on 9 May 1877, in Cwm-y-glo, son of Richard Griffith and Jane. The family returned to Bethesda in 1890, where he worked for a while in the Penrhyn Quarry. For many years he was the conductor of the large Bethesda choir. In 1921 the Bethesda Choral Society was formed under his leadership. In 1928 he moved to Old Colwyn where he stayed for the rest of his life. In Old Colwyn his musical interests continued. He was conductor of the Colwyn and area Choral Society (1929-1936). He was also interested in instrumental music and a member of Roland Rogers' orchestra as well as being involved in establishing the Morfa Rhianedd Orchestra and the Gwynedd Orchestra, both of which he conducted on several occasions. He contributed many articles to the Cerddor when Dr J. Lloyd Williams was editor and contributed on a regular basis to Y Traethodydd, Y Goleuad and Y Drysorfa. He also wrote the majority of articles on musicians in The Dictionary of Welsh Biography down to 1940. R. D. Griffith was also chosen to be the musical editor of Trysorfa'r Plant after the death of R. T. Rees. He was a prominent member of the 'Pwyllgor Mawl y Methodistiaid Calfinaidd', and he was responsible for beginning the series of hymn books, Detholiadau o Donau, that were to be used in the 'Cymanfaoedd Canu' of his denomination. R. D. Griffith received no secondary education, but succeeded in educating himself and became an able musician and researcher. In 1952 he gained an M.A. honours degree. Professionally, he was a salesman for a paint manufacturing company and in that capacity, travelled hundreds of miles a year. Previously, he had worked for many years as a clerk in the office of W. J. Parry of Coetmor, Bethesda. He died on 21 October 1958.


According to type.

Access Information


Open to all users

Acquisition Information

Presented in 1959 by Miss Dilys Wray, Old Colwyn, niece of R. D. Griffith.

Other Finding Aids

Catalogue at item level.

Conditions Governing Use

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

Custodial History



None expected


E.D. Jones, Brynley F. Roberts (eds), Y Bywgraffiadur Cymreig, 1951-1970: gydag atodiad i'r Bywgraffiadur Cymreig hyd 1940 a'r Bywgraffiadur Cymreig 1941-1950, (London: [Honourable Society of the Cymmrodorion], 1997). Griffith, Robert David, Hanes canu cynulleidfaol Cymru, (Caerdydd, Gwasg Prifysgol Cymru, 1948) Access Points