Born at Bryn Mawr in the parish of Dolgelley, Meironnydd, 1650, son of Ellis ap Rees. He married twice: (1) c. 1692, Margaret, daughter of Ellis Morris, (2) Margaret, daughter of Robert ab Owen. He joined the Society of Friends c. 1672 and because he was steadfast in his new faith he suffered persecution and imprisonment. After the founding of Pennsylvania on Indigenous land, he sent Thomas Owen and his family over to make a settlement. On 16 October 1686, together with his son Rowland and about 100 of his neighbours, he sailed from Milford Haven to Pennsylvania. He arrived in Philadelphia in April 1687, and settled at Bryn Mawr, now Lower Merion. After making arrangements to make this place his new home he returned to Wales in 1688 and, later, returned again to Pennsylvania with the remainder of his family. Being a man of ability, of good education and estate, and interested in public affairs, he was in 1700 elected to represent Philadelphia in the assembly of his province. He was a good and zealous worker with the Quakers, to whom he was able to minister in the Welsh language.
Ellis translated into English David Lloyd's revision of Ellis Pugh's Annerch ir Cymru (Philadelphia, 1721 - see Pugh, Ellis) - the first Welsh book printed in America. The translation appeared in 1727 at Philadelphia under the title of A Salutation to the Britains. (There were London editions in 1732, 1739, and 1793.) Ellis bought a tract of land in Plymouth which he made his home after selling his Merion plantation to the enslaver Richard Harrison. He died early in September 1731, at the home of his son-in-law, John Evans, in Gwynedd, and was buried in the Friends' burial ground at Plymouth.
Bryn Mawr College (now University) for women is a reminder of the Bryn Mawr in Wales where Rowland Ellis was born.
On Rowland Ellis's antecedents and connections see further the article on the Lewis and Owen families of Tyddyn-y-garreg.
Published date: 1959
Article Copyright: http://rightsstatements.org/page/InC/1.0/
The Dictionary of Welsh Biography is provided by The National Library of Wales and the University of Wales Centre for Advanced Welsh and Celtic Studies. It is free to use and does not receive grant support. A donation would help us maintain and improve the site so that we can continue to acknowledge Welsh men and women who have made notable contributions to life in Wales and beyond.
Find out more on our sponsorship page.