MATTHEWS, JOHN HOBSON (Mab Cernyw; 1858 - 1914), Roman Catholic historian, archivist and solicitor

Name: John Hobson Matthews
Pseudonym: Mab Cernyw
Date of birth: 1858
Date of death: 1914
Spouse: Alice Mary Mathews (née Gwyn-Hughes)
Parent: Emma Mathews (née Hobson)
Gender: Male
Occupation: Roman Catholic historian, archivist and solicitor
Area of activity: History and Culture; Law; Religion
Author: William Llewelyn Davies

Born 1858 at Croydon, his father being from S. Ives and his mother (Emma Hobson) from Great Grimsby. Although not a Welshman, Matthews was connected with Wales by residence and otherwise for so long a period and wrote so much concerning the country that he merits inclusion in this dictionary. Educated at schools at Blackheath and Cambridge, he worked for a while for a shipping firm in Malta.

He entered the Roman Catholic church in 1877, became a solicitor in 1889, and practised at Cardiff for many years.

He was a good linguist and learnt Maltese, Cornish, and Welsh. He it was who first drew attention to the carols of the Welsh Catholic martyr, Richard White (Catholic Record Society, iv). He edited Emynau Catholig, was the translator of Ffordd y Groes, and became a member of the Welsh Bardic Gorsedd. He acted as archivist to the Cardiff Corporation and was the editor of the six large volumes entitled Cardiff Records, being materials for a history of the County Borough from the earliest times (1898-1911). He also made a report, 1905, upon records belonging to the Monmouthshire County Council. He published A History of the parishes of St. Ives, Lelant, Towednack, and Zennor (London, 1892), and edited Martin Cock's Guide to St. Ives (St. Ives, 1906). He had previously prepared Yr Hen grefydd a'r grefydd newydd. Sef dadl … am yr Eglwys Gatholig … Wedi ei gyfieithu i'r Gymraeg gan … J. H. Jones (Cardiff, 1889), and The Life and Memorials of Saint Teilo (Preston, 1893).

He contributed to the transactions of societies, e.g. Cardiff Naturalists Society (see Transactions, xxxiii, for a study of place-names of the Cardiff district) and particularly to the Catholic Record Society, of which he was one of the original members (in 1906); many of the volumes of the latter contain valuable material relating to Catholics in south-east Wales, including Monmouthshire, contributed by him (see, e.g. vols. iv, v). The Vaughans of Courtfield: a study in Welsh genealogy (London, 1912) was based upon his examination of the family muniments of the Vaughans of Courtfield, a Herefordshire Catholic family (the muniments are now in N.L.W.). At the time of his death he was co-operating in the work of continuing Duncombe's History of Herefordshire.

He married, 1892, Alice Mary Gwyn-Hughes; they had four sons and two daughters. He died at Ealing, 30 January 1914.

NLW MS 2851E-2853E contain some typical examples of his 'collectanea.'


Published date: 1959

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