Christened 5 May 1743 at Llandanwg church, Meironnydd, son of John and Gwen James. He lived for a time at Maentwrog, where he married his first wife, but spent the greater part of his life at Penrhyndeudraeth where he built a house which he called ‘Llundain.’ He looked after the singing at the church of the parish of Llanfrothen and wrote a very large number of carols; he also wrote hymns. Although the greater number of his poems are in free metres, he composed also in strict metres; there are among his surviving poems some written for various eisteddfodau. The National Library of Wales has at least seven manuscript volumes containing examples of his work, some of these being in his own handwriting. He is said to have left the Church and joined the Calvinistic Methodists when the latter built a chapel at Penrhyndeudraeth, at which he again took charge of the singing. Two hymn-tunes composed by him — ‘Iago’ and ‘Digonolrwydd’ — were published in Caniadau y Cysegr; it is sometimes said that he composed ‘Priscilla’ also. In 1769 he was a schoolmaster; it is known that he kept school for a time at Beddgelert. He wrote an elegy (1786) on the death of his first wife, Elizabeth Thomas, and another (1796) on the death of his second wife, Jane Hugh. He died 30 March 1831 and was buried in the burial ground of Nazareth chapel, Penrhyndeudraeth. His work has the interest of marking the transition between the latter half of the 18th cent, and the early phase of 19th century Welsh poetry.
Published date: 1959
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