Born 8 July 1808 at Ton near Llandovery - for his family see the article Rees of Ton. He learned the printer's trade at Hereford, but in 1829 he and his uncle, D. R. Rees, set up a press at Llandovery; D. R. Rees gave it up in 1835 but William Rees continued the work and this press became one of the most celebrated in Wales and probably the best of all in respect of craftsmanship. It was here that Alun's (John Blackwell) Cylchgrawn was published in 1834.
The connection between the Reeses and Brutus (David Owen) is also interesting. The latter had been editing Lleuad yr Oes, which was printed by Jeffrey Jones. When Jones died in 1830, the Reeses took over his press - and Brutus with it - and Yr Efangylydd (1831-May 1835) was started. Brutus changed his political and ecclesiastical opinions; the Efangylydd died and, in its place, the Reeses started the very well known Anglican periodical, Yr Haul, with Brutus as its editor.
But it was after his uncle's retirement that William Rees, with the help of David Jones Roderic, took the plunge and became a printer of the highest rank. In 1848-9 he published the three splendid volumes of lady Charlotte Guest's Mabinogion. It was from this press, too, that the publications of the Welsh MSS. Society, 1836, were issued, among which may be mentioned Lewis Dwnn's Heraldic Visitations, 1846; Llyfr Llandaf, 1850; Iolo MSS., 1852; Lives of the Cambro-British Saints, 1853; Dosparth Edeyrn Davod Aur, 1856; Meddygon Myddfai, 1856; and Barddas, 1862. Among a host of other books published by the Llandovery press we need only mention Robert Williams's Eminent Welshmen, 1852; Carnhuanawc's Literary Remains (jointly with Longmans, London); and Ieuan Gwynedd's book, 1848, directed against the report of the education commissioners, 1846-7.
With all this, Rees took a leading part in the public life of the town, and was the organizer of the fund to build Thomas Phillips's (1760-1851) school at Llandovery. He died 13 July 1873 and was buried at Llandingad.
Published date: 1959
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