Thomas Dafydd Llewelyn (Llewelyn Alaw) 1828 – 1879

Poet, Harpist writer

Thomas Dafydd Llewelyn
Thomas Dafydd Llewelyn was born at the Mount Pleasant Inn Trecynon, son of Dafydd Llewelyn and landlord of the Mount Pleasant Inn in Trecynon. At the age of eight he was good harp player, he then into the pits at an early age.  At the age of twenty-three he took up music, poetry and literature as a full time occupation. He had some patronage from Lady Charlotte Guest who loved traditional music and legend.

Thomas Llewelyn is also mentioned in books as the retained harpist of Henry Austin Bruce.
His love of poetry, history and music led me to do an essay on a history of Aberdare, which one joint first prize in 1853.  In the National Eisteddfod of 1858 he won ten pounds for a collection of unpublished melodies, one of them was “Maes Hen Wlad Fy Nhadiau” the Welsh National Anthem. Thomas with Thomas Lewis (Welsh Harp Inn Trecynon) they were harpists to the Williams of Aberpergwm (Jane Williams) and the Bruce family of the Dyffryn.

In later years he followed in his father’s footsteps and became a landlord of the Welsh Harp in Mountain Ash where he died on the 3rd August 1879.  He was also a member of the congregation of Yr Hen Dy Cwrdd Chapel in Trecynon where he is buried.

“We regret to record the death of Mr. Thomas Llewelyn (better known among the Welsh literati by the nom de plume of Llewelyn Alaw), which took place on Sunday, at Mountain Ash. The deceased bard and harpist was a native of Mill Street, Aberdare, but some 20 years ago he and his aged mother settled down at Mountain Ash, where they, until a few years past, kept the Harp Inn. Mr. Llewelyn occupied a most respectable position as a bard, and few, if any, in the Principality excelled him at the harp. Owing to his great proficiency as a harpist, he was, as might have been expected, a great favourite with Lord Aberdare’s family, and whenever anything special took place at Duffryn, Llewelyn Alaw was there with his harp. He was well versed in Welsh lore; was moat unobtrusive in his manner, but withal, a most social companion. He was 43 years of age at the time of his death, and was never married. He had been Buffering for some time from a chronic disease.”

Inscription on gravestone at Hen Dy Cwrdd Chapel

In memory of
Dafydd Llewelyn of this Parish
Who died on September 19th 1857

Also of
Martha Llewelyn wife of the above
Who died February 19th 1877

Also of
Thomas Dafydd Llewelyn their son
Who died August 3 1879

Wyf argel fangre Llewelyn-Alaw
Golofn gerdd a thelyn
Gaed gyda’I gladdfa’n y Glyn
Angladd i’w gan a’I englyn

Bri ei anian oedd byw I rinwedd-bur
Ddyn a bardd gloew fuchedd
Er rhawd o glod a rhydedd
A dim a fu-dyma’I fedd

I am the hidden place of Llewelyn-Alaw
A pillar of art and music;
There came with his laying in the Vale
The funeral of a fine song.

His life’s delight was virtue-a true
Man and bard of good name
Although much praised and honored
He was of nought-this is his grave

Poem written by Nathan Dyfed