Coetmor Papers

Scope and Content

A collection of 90 items. The papers include letters addressed to W. J. Parry from Thomas Edward Ellis, M.P., 1886-1897, Rev. E. Herber Evans, Michael D. Jones of Bala, 1885-1892, Lewis William Lewis (Llew Llwyfo), 1863-1889, Pennant Lloyd, Lord Penrhyn's agent at the Penrhyn Quarry, 1892, Rev. William Nicholson, 1872-1885, North Wales correspondents (founding of the North Wales Choral Union), 1873-1874, Lord Penrhyn, 1870-1880, Col. Sackville West, 1878-1885, Rev. D. Rees, Capel Mawr, Anglesey, 1881-1889, Samuel Roberts of Llanbryn-mair, 1875-1885, Dr John Thomas of Liverpool, 1869-1889 and Rowland Williams (Hwfa Mn), 1867-1890; a group of papers relating to W. J. Parry's services as a friend and benefactor of the Library of U.C.N.W., Bangor, 1883-1926, including lists of books and manuscripts, presented by him; holograph manuscripts of poems by Hwfa Mn, including Awdl y Nos, Y Morwr, Awdl Farwnad i Alaw Goch, Elias y Thesbiad, Pen Carmel, Noddfa, Y Flwyddyn, etc., 1866-1903; copy correspondence and papers concerning industrial disputes and unrest at the Penrhyn Quarries, 1874-1897; scrap books containing newspaper cuttings relating to various topics of local and national interest, including the slate trade, the Penrhyn and Dinorwic Quarries disputes, 1878-1903, the North Wales Quarrymen's Union, the General Elections of 1868 and 1880, W. J. Parry's visit to America in 1888, Welsh home rule, etc. One of these scrap-books (ms 48) contains a copy of the revolutionary paper read by W. J. Parry before a meeting of the Honourable Society of the Cymmrodorion at Denbigh, 23 August 1882, advocating the establishment of regional councils for Wales, Scotland, etc.; day books and other accounts of the Pantdreiniog Quarry, 1896-1903; letter books, 1874-1906; accounts of visits to North and South America in 1879 and 1893-1894; holograph manuscript of Hanes fy mywyd a'm gwaith (published in Y Cronicl, 1908-1910 and Cymru, 1912-1914; baptismal register of Bethesda Congregational Chapel, 1818-1839.

Administrative / Biographical History

William John Parry of Coetmor, labour leader and author, was born on the 28 September 1842 in Bethesda, Caernarfonshire. Active in politics throughout his life, he took a leading part in the famous 1868 election. He was a supporter of Home Rule for Wales and at the National Eisteddfod of 1882, he read a paper to the Cymmrodorion Society on Local, Provincial, and Imperial Government. This paper was not published in the Society's Transactions until 1917-1918, because it was regarded at the time as being too revolutionary. In it he proposed the reorganisation of local government, the reform of the House of Lords and the establishment of provincial councils for Wales, Scotland etc.

W. J. Parry was a member of the first Caernarfonshire County Council in 1889 and its chairman in 1892-1893. He took a prominent part in the creation of the North Wales Quarryman's Union in 1874 and became its first secretary. Later he became its president for some years. In 1879 he visited slate quarries in the United States at the Union's request.

Several books were published by him, dealing with the quarryman's affairs; Caebraichycafn : yr Ymdrafodaeth, 1875; Chwareli a Chwarelwyr, 1896; The Penrhyn Lock-out, 1900-1901; Statement and Appeal, 1901; and Cry of the People, 1906. He also edited with W. J. Williams the Welsh translation of the evidence on slate quarries and quarrymen submitted to the Royal Commission on Labour (1893).

He was active in writing for Yr Herald Cymraeg, Y Genedl Gymreig, the Caernarvon and Denbigh Herald and the North Wales Observer on labour problems, leaseholds, Crown lands, Home Rule, county councils, arbitration, etc. He was also one of the founders of the newspaper called Y Werin in 1885, and was its first editor for three years. Books of a different nature were also written by him, such as Cofiant Tanymarian, 1886; Cyfrol Jiwbili Capel Bethesda, 1900, Telyn Sankey, 1901; Cofiant Hwfa Mn, 1907; and The English Hymnal, 1907, and numerous pamphlets.

A prominent member of the University College of North Wales, it was he who sent out the first letter requesting that books be donated. He himself also presented numerous books and papers to the University library and to the National Library of Wales. He was an Independent, and a deacon at Bethesda Chapel. He was involved in the infamous battle of the two constitutions, and in the agreement to establish the Bala-Bangor College. He died on 1 September 1927 at Bethesda.


According to subject / type

Conditions Governing Access

Open to all users

Acquisition Information

Additional papers were received in October 1932, according to Mr W. J. Parry's wishes in his will (mss 55-90).


Description amended by Elen Wyn Hughes, September 2002.

Other Finding Aids

Catalogue at series and item level available at the Archives Department of the University of Wales Bangor.

Conditions Governing Use

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

Related Material

Also held at the Archives Department of the University of Wales Bangor - Bangor Manuscripts 978 (x,xv), 1124 (195,196), 1125 (129), 1130 (15-16, 20-21), 4181, 5019 (44, 50), 5470 (112), 5471 (3), 5474 (36-37), 5478 (56-58, 85, 118-9), 5480 (32), 5482 (112), 5757 (14), 13296-13320, 24267, 26667, 28763-64, 35870.

Geographical Names