ROBERTS, WILLIAM (Nefydd; 1813 - 1872), Baptist minister, printer, author, eisteddfodwr, South Wales representative of the British and Foreign Schools Society, etc.

Name: William Roberts
Pseudonym: Nefydd
Date of birth: 1813
Date of death: 1872
Spouse: Jane Roberts (née Jones)
Parent: Anne Roberts
Parent: Robert Roberts
Gender: Male
Occupation: Baptist minister, printer, author, eisteddfodwr, South Wales representative of the British and Foreign Schools Society
Area of activity: Education; Eisteddfod; Literature and Writing; Printing and Publishing; Religion
Author: William Llewelyn Davies

Born 8 March 1813 in Bryngoleu, in the parish of Llanefydd, Denbighshire, son of Robert Roberts, shoemaker, and Anne his wife (see NLW MS 7000E for the names of some of the ancestors of the parents). He received but little education in his boyhood. He was taught his father's craft, and after a while went to Llanddulas to work for one Humphrey Jones. He was baptised in 1832 by John Evans, Glanwydden, began to preach in January 1834 and, in the summer of the same year, went to Llansilin to be prepared for the ministry by John Williams (1806 - 1856); Robert Ellis (Cynddelw) was a fellow-pupil.

In 1835 he settled at Mold as a Baptist home missioner. On 25 June 1837 he was ordained as minister of the Welsh Baptist church in Stanhope Street, Liverpool (see NLW MS 7127B ). He married Jane, daughter of Daniel Jones (1788 - 1862), then minister of the Baptist church in Crosshall Street, Liverpool. Nefydd moved in 1845 to Monmouthshire to become minister of Salem church, Blaenau Gwent (the modern ' Blaina'), where he spent the remainder of his days, busily engaged in a variety of ways.

He became prominent as an eisteddfod competitor and as adjudicator. His best-known printed work, a composite production, was written for eisteddfodau. This is Crefydd yr Oesoedd Tywyll, neu Henafiaethau Defodol, Chwareu-yddol, a Choelgrefyddol: yn cynnwys y Traethawd Gwobrwyol yn Eisteddfod y Fenni ar Mari Lwyd … ynghyd a Sylwadau ar lawer o hen Arferion tebyg i Mari Lwyd … (Carmarthen, 1852). He set up his own printing press at Blaenau (in 1864) and printed and published Y Bedyddiwr for four years; he edited Seren Gomer for some years, but it is not known whether he printed more than one number of that journal (NLW MSS 7077-8A, 7079B ). Prominent in Baptist circles, he became well-known in educational circles also, particularly after he had been appointed (in 1853) South Wales agent for the British and Foreign Schools Society (NLW MS 7096A , NLW MS 7106E , NLW MS 7107C ). For eleven years he was busy with the task of establishing and inspecting schools and arranging for the training of teachers; he had conducted his own 'night school' at Blaenau at one time.

Throughout the years he had been building up a library which eventually reached a total of about 600 volumes, besides several manuscripts of historical or literary interest. Amongst the manuscripts was a copy of the 'Red Book of St Asaph' (NLW MS 7011D ), collections of older and later Welsh poems (e.g. NLW MS 7012C , NLW MS NLW MS 7014A , NLW MS 7015D , NLW MS 7016D , NLW MS 7017B ), and the diaries of Edmund Jones, Pontypool (NLW MSS 7021-7030A ). He also, for a time, kept a book-shop. In addition to material on the history of the Baptists collected by himself, Nefydd acquired material on the same subject accumulated by Ellis Evans, Cefn-mawr (who was Baptist minister at Llanefydd when Nefydd was a young boy) and others. Amongst the contents of the two groups are several hundred letters from ministers and laymen. Part of this composite collection came into the hands of J. Spinther James, and was used by him when he was writing his Hanes y Bedyddwyr; by now the Spinther collection (which was bought by principal J. H. Davies) and the main portion of the historical material which had remained in the Nefydd library have been reunited in the N.L.W. (For some details about Nefydd's printed books, see an article by E. I. Williams in Journal of the Welsh Bibliographical Society, ii, 246-50).

Nefydd died 18 June 1872, and was buried in the burial-ground of 'Blaenau Gwent' chapel at Abertillery. His first wife, Jane (Jones), had died soon after the removal to Blaenau; the second wife was the widow of Jenkin Edwards. The Nefydd manuscripts (including letters) were transferred to the N.L.W. in 1930 in two groups (NLW MS 7011-7175 and NLW MS 7176-7189 ), to be followed in 1933 by a third group (NLW MS 7768-7779 ) and, in 1934, by a fourth group (NLW MS 9637-9639 ); for details see N.L.W. Handlist of MSS., x, 231-4.


Published date: 1959

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