Born 22 May 1859, at Llangunllo, Cardiganshire, son of J. C. Davies, he traced his descent from Walter Morgan, of Tangogoyan (born 1729), who is recorded as a landed proprietor in the parish of Llanddewi-brefi. At the age of 16, in 1875, Davies went to the newly-founded Welsh colony in Patagonia. He returned to Wales in 1891 [and in 1892 was editor of Yr Athrofa, in which ‘Anturiaethau yn Nhir y Cewri,’ which was published in English as Adventures in the Land of Giants, appeared as a serial]. In 1898 he visited western Australia, where he spent four years. In both countries he made a study of the native populations, but also did much to further the spiritual and cultural movements among the English and Welsh colonists. On his return, apart from a brief visit to western Australia in 1907 and a visit to Spain and France in 1924, he spent the remaining years of his life in Wales, devoting himself entirely to the study of Welsh history, folk-lore, and genealogy. He died at Llanddewi-brefi, 29 March 1932. Davies was a keen observer with a retentive memory. His works are a mine of information on the folk-customs of many countries, but his conclusions must be accepted with caution. His chief works are: Darlith ar Patagonia (Treherbert, 1891); Patagonia: a description of the country (Treorky, 1892); Adventures in the land of giants: a Patagonian tale (Lampeter, 1892); Western Australia: its history and progress (Nantymoel, 1902); Awstralia Orllewinol (Treorchy, 1903); Folk-lore of West and Mid-Wales (Aberystwyth, 1911); and two privately printed books, Welsh and Oriental Languages (Llanddewi Brefi, 1927) and Life, travels, and reminiscences of Jonathan Ceredig Davies (Llanddewi Brefi, 1927). The first of these privately printed books was reprinted in the Life, travels, and reminiscences.
The story of the latter book is a remarkable one. Judged by ordinary standards it cannot be compared with the work of the trained craftsman, but it would be difficult to find a finer example of dogged perseverance. Old age, failing health and sight, and fear of poverty, all made it seem impossible for him to achieve his purpose. His equipment consisted of a small quantity of type and a platen press. Setting up and printing off one page at a time, he grimly held on until the book was finished, a quarto work of 438 pages, ‘written, set up, printed off and published by himself.’ Apart from the mechanical aspect of its production the book bears the impress of a man who had travelled much, read widely, and was possessed of much courage and tenacity of purpose.
Published date: 1959
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