Richard Williams “Dryw Bach” 1790-1839

Mr. Richard William “Dryw Bach” had passed away on Thursday the 20th instant, aged 49, after a protracted great suffering, Mr. Richard Williams, of, Pant y Gerdinen the parish of Aberdare; a man whose name will long be dear to the admirers of Welsh music, poetry, and literature generally.

At an early period of his life he developed a superior taste in Welsh lyrics, combining in his songs, many elegancies of imagination with a natural flow of genuine humour. He also attained a proficiency in the higher order of Welsh poetry. His justly admired prize, “Awdl i’r Goleuni,” (Ode to the light) is a fine composition that evinces strong mental powers.

Picture of Pant y Gerdinen Farm, Cwmbach,

Pant y Gerdinen Farm, Cwmbach, Aberdare (Picture courtesy of RCTCBC)

Pant y Gerdinen Farm

Pant Farm was well known Pantygerdinen which was once an ancient farm called “Pympynt.” In an area called as “Tyr Pante,” which was area of 20 acres.  The farm was then owned by Mr. Richard Williams “Dryw Bach.” The farm was situated by Derwent Drive, Cwmbach Community School is now.

He has also been a successful competitor on other subjects. His Englynion on Newbridge (Pont-y-ty-pridd) acquired for him an elegant silver medal, with an additional premium at the great Eisteddfod, held at Cardiff, in 1834 and he was second best in his encomiastic englynion to the Marquess and Marchioness of Bute, for the Royal Medal presented to that high festival, by the Princess Victoria (our present gracious Queen) and the Duchess of Kent.

He had, subsequently, won on other topics. His last successful effort was a composition on the marriage of William Williams, Esq., of Aberpergwm in which he gave ample testimony of his regard for the ancient families of his native country. Nor were his talents in music of an inferior order, for he has left behind him medals awarded to his vocal powers.

As a husband, and the parent of a large family he discharged the duties of a meritorious man. In his various occupations of farmer, auctioneer, and wool-dealer, &c., he sustained the worthy character of industrious integrity and gladly would all who transacted business with him have hailed his recovery to an extended period of intercourse. In social life he was obliging. and an ardent promoter of cheerfulness, in the best spirit of good feeling. Alas! poor Dryw Bach!

Glamorgan Eisteddfod 21.10.1824

The Welsh Society assembling at the Boot Inn, Merthyr Tydvil, held a general meeting on the 26th ult., being one of the four annual Bardic Festivals. Mr. Taliesin Williams presided, assisted by the Rev. T. B. Evans.

The following prizes were awarded conformably to the resolutions of the preceding meeting, viz.-an elegant chain medal to Mr. Thomas Lewis, Dowlais (Llenys Morganwy Feddyg) for the best Awdl on the “Grave;” the second best competitor on the subject was Mr. David Williams, (Dafydd an Gwilym Baallt), and the third, the Rev. David Saunders, four candidates in all.

A second silver medal was given to Mr. Thomas Williams (Thomas Cilfynydd), for the best Cywydd, on “Hope;” the only other competitor on this subject was Rowland Thomas, of Merthyr Tydvil. The Dadgeiniaid (singers) next came forward to accompany the harp, in the ancient Glamorganshire manner. The closest competition; was between William Jenkins, of Dowlais, and Mr. Richard Williams, of Bedwillwyn, (Gwilym Ddu Glan Cynon) who won the silver chain medal of this society by his excellent Ode on “Light,” at the last general meeting but in this case the bard was unsuccessful, the prize, half a guinea, being adjudged to the other. The Judges were Mr. Thomas Williams (Gwilym Morganwg), for the poetry, and Mr. Williams of Pendarren Iron Works, for the singing.

He has also been a successful competitor on other subjects. His Englynion on Newbridge, on (Pont-y-ty-pridd) acquired for him elegant silver medal, with an additional premium, at the great Eisteddfod, held at Cardiff in 1834; and he was second best in his economic englynion to the Marquis and Marchioness of Bute, for the Royal Medal presented to that high Festival, by the Princess Victoria, and the Duchess of Kent. He has, subsequently won on other topics.

We omitted to mention our last that the author of this very poetical composition in praise of the Lord President of the Cardiff Eisteddfod and his lady, was our neighbour Mr. Richard Williams, of Aberdare, well known among the Bards as Gwilym Ddu Glan Cynon. R. W. was also the successful competitor for the six stanzas on Newbridge, under the signature of Cadidog.

The same Bard also wrote for a third prize, which he only failed to win by having used (to quote the words of the Judge) “one dubious word.” We are the more-happy in adverting to the merits of our intelligent neighbour, as by some oversight his name was omitted in the list of Bards present at the late Cardiff Eisteddfod, in which list Richard Williams would deservedly have held one of the foremost stations.

His last successful effort was a composition on the marriage of William Williams Esq, of Aberpergwm; in which he gave ample testimony of his regard for the ancient families of his native country. Nor was his superiority in music of all Inferior order, for he has left behind him medals awarded to his vocal powers.


The Rev. Chancellor Knight then announced the decision of the Judges as to the prize for which a subject had been proposed the preceding day. Of 19 compositions which had been sent in, he was happy to say there was not one which did not possess some eminent specific merit: but of the 19, five were of a very superior order.

Upon a rigid scrutiny, of the five the Judges have selected two, of so nearly equal merit, that after many vibrations and oscillations of opinion, they could only award the prize to the poem of Penfrith, because that of Dryw Bach they learned was not delivered within the hour prescribed. They therefore decreed the laurel to the brow of Penfrith, and he said, “Penfrith come forth.” Upon this summon our highly gifted townsman, ab Iolo, amidst loud and reiterated cheering presented himself, and, and was invested with the trophy of his triumph by the Marchioness of Bute, who acted us “Proxy for the Princess Victoria.” Dryw Bach was then called and refrained from, presenting himself, on which the Rev. Mr. Knight read aloud the first Englyn of his composition, which excited general admiration.

Gorsedd 27.09.1834

On Saturday last, the 20th instant, (the 21st or day of the autumnal equinox falling, upon a Sunday) the Gorsedd which had originally been intended to be celebrated with the Eisteddfod, but could not in consequence of the “year and a day” not having expired, was held on the “rocking stone,” at Coed-pen-main, in the parish of Eglwys-Ilan, with the usual formalities. The Bards having assembled in the morning at the house of Gwilym Morganwg, at Newbridge, commenced at the hour of eleven their procession up the mountain’s side to the appointed place.

The order observed was as follows:

The Harper

Gwilym Ddu, Glan Cynon, the Rhingyll (Sergeant) a, bearing the Bardic Sword by the point, sheathed.
Ab Iolo and Gwilym Morganwg, Derwydd-feirdd, or Druid Bards.
Gwilym Ilid and Henry Jones, Esq.
Rhydderch Gwynedd & Thomas Williams, Cilfynydd.
Thomas Powell and Hugh Jones
Evan David, William Evan, and Evan Richards,

With many other Bards with whose names we arc unacquainted. We also observed Mr. Thomas Bevan the respectable Secretary to the Cymmrodorion Society at Abergavenny (Ab Caradawc) and Mr. David Jones, the worthy President of the Merthyr Cymmrodorion Society, accompanied by many respectable ladies and gentlemen of the county, whose names it is not necessary to enumerate.

The Meini Gwynion or sacred circle having been formed about the Maen Chwyf (rocking stone) the graduated Bards, according to ancient usage, assisted the Gorsedd Bard, (Bardd Gorseddawg,) Ab Iolo, to unsheathe the sword, which he took by the point and ascended the Gorsedd Stone or inaugural Bardic Chair. Ab Iolo then proceeded to read the solemn Welsh proclamation which opened the Gorsedd.

Several ancient institutional Triads were here read, followed by a series of admonitory charges to the candidates for degrees. These had reference to the high importance of a strict adherence to good moral conduct anciently enjoined by the Bards, with cursory allusions to derelictions of duty in subsequent periods. The Gorsedd Bard announced that for the future degrees would only be conferred progressively and at rather distant intervals, so as to afford a due period of probation of moral conduct.

No Bardic degrees were consequently conferred except on two who had been previously graduated at other Chairs: Robert Davies (Bardd Nantglyn), and Gwilym Padarn. Several Ofyddion (Ovates) were next graduated.

Mrs. Hall, of Llanover, (the beautiful Gwenynen Gwent,) was the first to whom the presiding Bard paid well merited compliments for her distinguished nationality and superior attainments; observing that those who had the honour to win medals at the recent Eisteddfod considered them doubly valuable from the association of her name with theirs.

The following is the list of additional Ofyddion graduated:

  1. Mrs Hall, alias Gwenynen Gwent
  2. Mr. Thomas Bevan, secretary of The Cymrygyddion Society, Abergavenny
  3. Mr. Watkin Bevan, Newton Nottage
  4. Mr. David Jones, Merthyr
  5. Mr. Henry Jones, Esq. Merthyr
  6. Mr. Thomas Powell, Merthyr
  7. Mr. Wm. Evan, Merthyr
  8. Mr. Evan Richard, Llanwynno
  9. Mr. Hugh Jones, “Gazette,” Merthyr
  10. Mr. Samuel Evans, Llantrisant
  11. Mr. Wm. Davies, Graweth, Merthyr
  12. Mr. Thomas Watkins, alias Eiddil, Ifor  Blaenavon
  13. Mr. Rhys Lewis, Merthyr
Portrait of Lady Llanover

Lady Llanover

At the conclusion of the ceremony Gorseddau were announced to be held at Merthyr and at Newbridge after the necessary expiration of a year and a day, and that probationary meetings would, at different times, be previously held, to ascertain the competency of candidates as to Bardic attainments and social duties.

The Gorsedd was then closed by the chief Bard calling on the other Bards for their aid in sheathing the sword. The sacred circle having been removed, various complimentary Englynion were recited, and Ab Iolo announced an Eisteddfod at the house of Gwilym Morganwg, for the purpose of adjudicating the prize for the best Awdl in honour of the Rev. W. B. Knight, for his extraordinary exertions and abilities manifested during the Eisteddfod at Cardiff; this announcement was received with immense cheering, which evinced the great popularity of that learned gentleman. The Procession then returned to Newbridge in the same order as before.

The Company, on their arrival at Newbridge, assembled in a spacious room in the house of Gwilym Morganwg, when Mr. J. B. Bruce, Esq. was called to the Chair by the simultaneous acclamations of all present. Mr. Bruce, in taking the Chair, observed that not being a Bard he accepted the situation with great diffidence if not reluctance, but that he felt ardently interested in the prosperity of all such National Institutions, and was highly flattered by the partiality shown him on this occasion. He begged to remind the Meeting that although not a Bard he was descended from the ancient line of the Lewies’s of the Vann, renowned through ages for their high patronage of Bards.

Abergavenny Cymreigyddion Society 26.11.1836

The President then called upon one of the Datgeiniaid; upon which, Gwilym Glan Cynon, (Mr R. Williams, of Aberdare,) accompanied on the harp by Mr Jones, gave a celebrated Welsh song, with so much spirit as to electrify the ladies, and vindicate his bardic fame.

Cymreigyddion yr Alarch 03.06.1837 (Merthyr)

We attended a musical meeting of this Society, on Monday evening, at the Swan Inn, in this town, and were highly gratified. Its object was to induce an emulative taste in vocal performance, among its members and the operative classes of the place and vicinity. Two young harpers of great ability, Mr. David Davies, Jun., of Gelligaer, and Mr. Thomas Davies, of the Miners Arms, Merthyr Tydfil, assisted by Mr. William Richards, with his well-known superiority, on the violin, were engaged for the evening.

Three female vocalists, Mrs. Philips, of Newbridge, (Morfudd Glann Taf), Miss Ann Kernew, (Eos Fach), and Miss Margaret Jones, (Ehedydd Merthyr), sang with great effect. Morfudd’s fine voice and superior powers, elicited unbounded applause. There were also eight male singers, Messrs. Thomas Jenkins, of Pwll-y-Wyaid, William Richards, John Jones, David Miles, David Jones, Llewelyn Lewis, Richard Williams, and Robert Roberts, who contributed highly to the harmony of the meeting, by their efficient performance. William Thomas, Esq., of Court House, presided, assisted by the worthy Bard, Dryw Bach, (Mr. R. Williams, of Aberdare), as vice president; and, among the numerous assemblages, we noticed a respectable attendance of the ladies and of the town.

The only literary prize at this meeting consisted of some books, given by Ab Iolo, for the best Englyn to the Swan, (Yr Alarch), which was won by Mr. Jonathan Reynolds. There were six competitors, and all above mediocrity. The good, and we may justly add, gentlemanly conduct of the working classes, on this occasion, redounds greatly to their credit.

The worthy president left about Id and received tile cordial thanks of the meeting. A similar meeting was announced to take place at the house of Mr. Thomas Jenkins, Pwll-y-Wyaid, on Monday evening, July 10th, ensuing.

Cymreigyddion Yr Alarch, Merthyr 27.01.1838

Notwithstanding the unpropitious weather, the Merthyr Cymreigyddion Society held its annual meeting on Monday last. A portion of the new Market House was set apart for the occasion and by the aid of canvas and tarpaulins, a room of considerable dimensions was secured from the external atmosphere; and when we consider the shortness of the tile allowed, the occupation of the place on the previous Saturday, and the intervening Sunday, we may express our surprise that arrangements, so hastily, should have been so good. We understand that the next anniversary will be held at a later period of the week; and we think a more advanced period of the year would be also an improvement. We beg leave also to suggest the appointment of stewards. We saw no one acting in this capacity, or consulting in any way, the general conveniences and accommodation of the visitors, who soon gathered round the chair in most “Admired disorder.” We have no desire to state this or the truth’s sake, and that the next anniversary may have the advantage of our complaint, and the benefit of an example to be avoided. We may further mention to the reproach of those who affect a patronage of Welsh literature, and a desire to perpetuate their “lands language,” that they did not on this occasion put themselves to the slightest inconvenience by their attendance. They are willing to leave the burthen to those who are Welshmen in heart and in truth, reserving themselves; for a grand display, when something more than Welsh Literature is concerned.

For the best Song On the beauty of “Cynon Vale,” Tune, “Llwyn Onn.” £1 1s By Mr. Richard Williams, (Dryw Bach.) Awarded to Sion Blaen-y cwm “Richard Williams, (Dryw Bach,) of Aberdare. These Englynion were excellent, we shall give them next week.”

Cymreigyddion y Maen Chwyf 30.06.1838

This Welsh Society was instituted in 1814; and, at the expiration of the requisite “Gosteg a rhybydd un-dydd-a-blwyddyn,” its first anniversary was held on that ancient Druidic altar “Y Maen Chwyf” (Rocking-stone) the following year; at which, Iolo Morganwg presided, assisted by Gwilym Morganwg, Gwilym Tew Glann Taf, Evan Cule, (all gone!) and others,

Its annual meetings have been continued ever since. At the commencement of this Society, its proceedings were sarcastically spoken of, as the whimsical operations of erratic minds. To enter into honourable competition for literary distinction is a superior principle of humanity; but, where a consciousness of defective acquirements, and a disinclination to literary attainments, exist, the hostilities of vacant laughs and sneers are too frequently put in requisition, from an unworthy desire to annoy unsuitable Societies. Proclaim, however, a horse-race, or a steeple chase, and there those objections drive, in high feather; relying solely on the heels of their horses, rather than their own heads, for distinction; and thus, they become famous by proxy. But the number of such scoffers rapidly decreases; and our renovated Welsh Societies, of ancient institution, are, however humble, now supported, in their laudable attempts, by the generous hands and hearts of our worthy Patricians; and our local chairs, at their several anniversaries, are adorned by the highly educated descendants of the former patrons of our ancient “Beirdd Teulu”: and the auspicious smile of even one of these will put to break-neck rout the entire host of un-mental dissentients

This Society (Cymdeithas yr Hen Faen Chwyf Ardderchog) held its 24th anniversary on Thursday, the 21st instant, “Dydd yr Alban Hefin, (Summer solstice)” one of the great Bardic festivals. It was first intended to celebrate the festival on, and by, the Maen Chwyf; and a capacious tent was erected close to it, for the occasion, under the directions of William Price, Esq., surgeon of Treforest Tin Works; but the very unpropitious state of the weather presented too many objections, and the meeting was held at the New Market Place of Newbridge, under the kind permission of Mrs. Morgan, Lady of the Manor.

Before the expiration of “Awr gyntefin Anterth,”Ab Iolo, attended by the gifted chair bard Cawdraf, and by Gwilym Ddu Glan Cynon, &c. gave, in the open air, the requisite notice of “a year and a day” for holding a gorsedd on the Maen Chwyf; after which, the members, and a numerous train of attendants, proceeded to that ancient inauguration stone; and, joining Mr. Price and his party, went on to the Bridgewater Arms, to receive their chairman, Roger Hopkins, Esq., of Victoria Ironworks, who had previously arrived there. The worthy Chairman having entered his carriage, the assemblage proceeded before him, in excellent order, to Newbridge; their fine silken banner, of the three institutional colours green, blue and white, with the Druidic symbol formed in its centre, being borne before them.

About noon Mr. Hopkins was called, by hearty acclamation, to the chair; and the high ardour of his zeal, in his opening address, elicited the stirring plaudits of a numerous and elegant assemblage of fascinating Ladies, in their train, of a concourse of gentlemen, animated by the best impulse of nationality.

The chair was a highly ornamented specimen of cast iron, from the application of anthracite coal. It was presented to the Society by the patriotic Chairman, and long may it remain there, as a respectable memento of his fervent patronage.

Following the Chairman, Mr. Reynolds, of Cowbridge, delivered, by general request, an animating address on the occasion; after which, the Judges, Mr. Richard Williams (Gwilym Ddu, Glan Cynon alias Dryw Bach) and Mr. James Davis of Cwm Rhondda, were called upon to deliver their adjudications.

An Elegy, by David Williams (Alaw Goch)
To Mr. Richard Williams (Gwilym Ddu Glan Cynon), Pant y Gerdinen, Aberdare

Glorious God, always well known,
You are amiable in your rebuke,
And your promise is unending,
Full of love and mercy
Lord King of all kings,
And the poor, you hear their complaints by the hundreds,
Concerning their enlightened, good poet, Gwilym,
Socialiser, and generous donor has become powerless.

Here was a man of piercing intellect,
Dear, gentle and patient,
He learned serious languages from wise men,
The skilful styles and sayings,
Of a heavenly peacemaker who could not be denied;
A man who did not like anyone who gives rise to any trouble;
In his love no one better –
I know, I’ve never heard or seen a dearer man.

It is easy to find people forever complaining,
And people of all degrees who grizzle rather,
As they see the migration of their neighbour
Honest, upright, pure and lively man;
A man whose advice was golden,
And overflowing with pity towards poor people;
In all earnest, a father of true heart has been lost,
Death has stolen one of the best to be a subject of his crown.
A man who loved his family worthily,
One who never did a bad turn to anyone in Wales,

The Wedding
Of Mr. Howell Williams, Pant Y Gerdinen, and
Miss A.M. Gilbert, Aberdare, May 2nd, 1850.

God joined these for the sake of goodness – with a ring
And the phrases of prayer,
May you have a long life as parents,
May a good life and good taste be your lot.

Iago Emlyn and Alaw Goch
In a letter of November 19, 1851, Iago Emlyn sent the following
Englyn to Alaw

Alaw Goch – on a Rail journey – of good metal
I shall come to you to receive an englyn,
To Aberdar to call with the man,
And his welcoming place, Emlyn will not go.

Mr. Howell Williams
Hywel ap Gwilym Ddu

Mr. Howell Williams died the ripe age of 78 years Mr. Howell Williams, Merthyr, died on Monday. He was known in the Eisteddfodic world as Hywel ap Gwilym Ddu, his father, Gwilym Ddu, being a bard of national repute. Hywel was a native of Cwmbach, and assisted Dafydd Morganwg in issuing the works of Telynog. He was for years rate collector and assistant overseer for the parish of Aberdare. From Aberdare he removed to Merthyr to keep a public house.

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