BRYAN, ROBERT (1858 - 1920), poet and composer

Name: Robert Bryan
Date of birth: 1858
Date of death: 1920
Parent: Elinor Bryan
Parent: Edward Bryan
Gender: Male
Occupation: poet and composer
Area of activity: Music; Poetry
Authors: Edward Morgan Humphreys, Robert Thomas Jenkins

Born 6 September 1858 at Camddwr, Llanarmon-yn-Iâl, Denbighshire, son of Edward and Elinor Bryan. He was a pupil and a pupil teacher at the Wrexham British School, and, later, entered Bangor Normal College. He became a teacher at Whitland, Carmarthenshire; Corwen; and Tal-y-sarn, Caernarfonshire He afterwards was a student at Aberystwyth University College and in Oxford, where he planned to take the B.A. and Mus. Bac. degrees, but a severe breakdown in health in 1893 compelled him to leave Oxford and to give up all work for a long period. Until 1903 he lived mainly at Wrexham and Marchwiel; in that year he moved to Caernarvon, where his brothers, Edward and Joseph Davies Bryan (infra), who were in business in Egypt, had a house. From that date Robert Bryan spent most of his winters in Egypt, returning to Caernarvon each summer. In 1901 he published a volume of poems, Odlau Cân; another, Tua'r Wawr, was published posthumously in 1921. Of his musical compositions the best known is probably the part-song for male voices, ' Y Teithiwr Blin.' He edited Alawon y Celt (n.d.), two books of selections of Celtic airs. He died in Cairo 5 May 1920, and was buried there. He was unmarried.

Other members of this family claim notice. The eldest of the brothers, JOHN DAVIES (died 13 November 1888), founded a small shop in Cairo in 1886 and was soon joined by the second brother, Joseph Davies (below), and in 1888 by the third, EDWARD DAVIES (died 1929). The firm prospered exceedingly, eventually owning large stores in Cairo and Alexandria, with branches in Port Said and Khartoum; it was so widely trusted that Arabs would deposit large sums in gold with the firm, without any written security, rather than entrust them to the banks. The business was closed in 1934.

The surviving brother, JOSEPH DAVIES (died 1 March 1935 at Alexandria, aged 71), became a very prominent member of the British community in Egypt; he was president (1923-4) of the British Chamber of Commerce in Egypt and, during the same period, president of the British community in Alexandria. A former student of University College, Aberystwyth, he became one of its most generous patrons, and in 1929 presented it with a site of some eighty-five acres on a hill above the town at a cost approaching £15,000, for new college buildings. The University of Wales conferred the honorary degree of LL.D. upon him in 1933.

John's letters to Y Genedl Gymreig, 1887, were subsequently republished in book form with a biographical introduction by his brother Robert - O'r Aifft (Wrexham, 1908). Joseph published a series of articles in The Bible in the World, 1931.


Published date: 1959

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