Wynne, Ellis (DNB00)

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WYNNE, ELLIS (1671–1734), Welsh author, only son of Edward Wynne of Las Ynys, near Harlech, was born in 1671. On 1 March 1691–2 he matriculated at Oxford from Jesus College; thereafter he settled (without graduating) on his little patrimony. According to tradition, he practised as a lawyer. In 1701 he published in London ‘Rheol Buchedd Sanctaidd,’ a translation of Taylor's ‘Holy Living,’ which he dedicated to Bishop Humphreys. The work which has made him famous, ‘Gweledigaethau y Bardd Cwsg’ (‘Visions of the Sleeping Bard’), appeared in 1703 (London). He now took orders, in response probably to the appeals of those who had been impressed by the ability and earnestness shown in ‘Y Bardd Cwsg,’ and in 1705 became rector of Llan Danwg, and perpetual curate of Llan Bedr, both not far from Las Ynys. He was editor of the issue of the Welsh prayer-book which appeared in 1710 (London). In May 1711 he exchanged his living for the rectory of Llanfair-juxta-Harlech, which he held until his death in July 1734. He was buried beneath the altar of Llanfair. In September 1698 he married Laura Wynne of Moel y Glo, who died in the following July. On 14 Feb. 1702 he married his second wife, Laura Lloyd of Hafod Lwyfog, near Bedd Gelert. She died in August 1720; of their children, William, the second, succeeded his father as rector of Llanfair, and died in 1761, and Edward, the youngest, became rector of Penmorfa. Edward published in 1755 at Shrewsbury ‘Prif Addysc y Cristion,’ which included a brief exposition of the church catechism and some hymns and carols by his father.

The visions of ‘Bardd Cwsg’ are three—a vision of the world, of death, and of hell; each is a prose narrative, allegorical in form, religious in tone. The writer clearly owed much to L'Estrange's version of the ‘Visions’ of Quevedo, but used the material he drew from this source with independence. The satiric vigour and sublimity of the portraiture, the keen knowledge of men and of the times displayed, and the terse inimitable style, make this by general consent the greatest of Welsh prose classics. It was translated, not very accurately, by George Borrow (London, 1860); a more faithful version was published in 1897 by R. Gwyneddon Davies (London). The following is a list of the editions of ‘Bardd Cwsg:’ 1st, London, 1703; 2nd, Shrewsbury, about 1740; 3rd, 1748, 4th, 1755, 5th, 1759, all at Shrewsbury; 6th, Carmarthen, 1767; 7th, Shrewsbury, 1768; 8th, Shrewsbury, 1774; 9th, Merthyr, 1806; 10th, Carmarthen, 1811; 11th, Dolgelly, 1825; 12th, Carnarvon, 1825; 13th, Llanrwst, 1825; 14th, Carmarthen, 1828; 15th, Carnarvon, 1828; 16th, Carmarthen, 1853, with memoir by D. Silvan Evans; 17th, Llanidloes, 1854; 18th, Carmarthen, 1865; 19th, Llanidloes, 1867; 20th, Carmarthen, 1878; 21st, Liverpool, 1886; 22nd, Liverpool, 1888; 23rd, Carmarthen, 1891; 24th, Liverpool, 1894; 25th, Carnarvon, 1898; 26th, Liverpool, 1898; 27th, Bangor, 1898, an exact reprint of the first edition, with memoir, notes, and glossary by J. Morris Jones.

[The introduction to the Bangor edition of Bardd Cwsg gives a full account, based on an examination of parish records, of what is known of Ellis Wynne and his family. For the bibliography, see Llyfryddiaeth y Cymry and the Catalogue of the Welsh portion of Cardiff Public Library. Other sources are Foster's Alumni Oxon.; Silvan Evans's introduction to the edition of 1853; Williams's Eminent Welshmen.]

J. E. L.