Born at The Tramway, Hirwaun, Aberdare, Glam., 18 May, 1863, the youngest son of Lewis and Amy Davies. His father was a refiner in the Crawshay Ironworks at Hirwaun. The son was educated at Penderyn elementary school, where he became a pupil teacher. He won a scholarship to Bangor Normal College, where he remained for 2 years (1881-82) and then returned to Hirwaun as headmaster of the local school from 1884 to 1886 when he became headmaster of Cymer School in the Afan valley. He retired in 1926. His public service included the chairmanship of the Glyncorrwg U.D.C. and of the Aberafan Juvenile Court. For several years he was the conductor of the Cymer-Afan ‘drum and fife’ band and of a similar band at Cwmparc (Rhondda Valley) and also of Blaenau Afan Male Voice Choir. He was an elder, precentor and organist at Hebron, Cymer. He was the composer of the well-known hymn-tune ‘Cymer’. He adjudicated singing, reciting, essay and poetry competitions in hundreds of local eisteddfodau and also at the national eisteddfod. He lectured extensively on literary, historical and musical topics and for many years he taught the cynganeddion at the Welsh summer school at Llanwrtyd. He belonged to a noted generation of Welsh school-masters who were well versed in the arts. In all, he won about 30 prizes at the national eisteddfod for short stories, novels for children, historical essays, novels, collections of folk-lore &c. His last prize was for an historical novel at the Dolgellau eisteddfod, 1949, when he was 86 years of age, frail and blind in one eye. He was second to D. Rhys Phillips at the Neath eisteddfod, 1918 for a comprehensive essay on the history of the Vale of Neath. For many years he was the columnist ‘Eryr Craig y Llyn’ in Y Brython and was a regular contributor to the newspapers of south Wales, both national and local. He won several chairs for poetry at local eisteddfodau and was an authority on the tribannau of Glamorgan. He shared the prize for a fine collection of these tribannau at the Bridgend eisteddfod, 1948, when he was 85 years of age. He was an authority on the history of the parish of Penderyn, and many articles were written by him on the history of the Afan Valley, Glyncorrwg, Margam, Blaengwrach, Neath Abbey, etc. Among his publications are Radnorshire (Cambridge University Press-‘County Series’), Outlines of the history of the Afan districts, Ystorïau Siluria, Bargodion hanes and four adventure novels, Lewsyn yr heliwr, Daff Owen, Y geilwad bach and Wat Emwnt. Many of his works remain unpublished.
He married Celia Lewis of Pen-y-pownd, Cwmtaf, in 1886. He died 18 May 1951 and was buried at the Cymer-Afan Cemetery. A memorial tablet was unveiled at Hebron Chapel alongside a similar tablet to his old friend, Sir William Jenkins.
Published date: 2001
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