Iago ab Dewi (DNB00)

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IAGO ab Dewi, or James Davies (1648–1722), Welsh bard and translator, was born at Llandyssul, Cardiganshire, but lived for a few years at Pencader, and for the latter part of his life at Blaengwili, Llanllawddog, Carmarthenshire. He joined the nonconformist movement, and became a member of the independent church at Pencader, during the ministry there of Stephen Hughes, who had been ejected from the living of Meidrym in 1662. He died 24 Sept. 1722 in his seventy-fourth year, and was buried at Llanllawddog (Register of Panteg Independent Church}.

Iago was a diligent collector of Welsh manuscripts, both prose and poetry. A small (12mo) volume, in a remarkably neat hand, containing a collection of Welsh poetry copied by him, is preserved in theTonn (Llandovery) Library, now deposited at the Free Library, Cardiff, and selections from it were published in 'Y Cymmrodor,' vols. viii. ix. and x. Reference is made in Iolo MSS. (pp.94, 193, 222) to another collection of his, including a grammar by David ab Gwilym, and the romance of 'Rhitta Gawr.' He also wrote a good deal of original poetry, some of which is printed in 'Blodau Dyfed' (Llandovery, 1824), in 'Yr Awenydd' (Carnarvon), and in 'Y Cymmrodor' (loc. cit.) Much, however, remains in manuscript, e.g. Addit. MS. 15010, at the British Museum. But his fame rests chiefly on the excellence of his numerous translations in Welsh prose of religious works by English authors. His style is always clear and simple, and is rarely marred by a foreign idiom. His orthography is that of the school anterior to the innovations of Dr. Owen Pughe. It has been stated (Y Brython, iv. 155; Foulkes, Enwogion Cymru, p. 538) that he was the translator of 'The Pilgrim's Progress,' but for this there is no foundation.

His published translations are the following: 1. 'Llythyr Edward Wells, D.D., at Gyfaill ynghylch y Pechod mawr o gymmeryd Enw Duw yn ofer,' Shrewsbury, 8vo, 1714. 2. 'Cyfeillach beunyddiol a Duw,' &c., Shrewsbury, 8vo, 1714. 3. 'Llythyr at y cyfryw o'r Byd,' &c., Shrewsbury, 1716. 4. 'Pregeth a bregethwyd yng Nghapel Ty Ely, yn Holburn,' &c., Shrewsbury, 8vo, 1716. 5. 'Meddyliau Neillduol am Grefydd,' London, 12mo, 1717 ; 2nd edit., London, 1725-6; 3rd edit., Dolgelly, 1804: a translation of the 'Private Thoughts' of William Beveridge [q. v.], bishop of St. Asaph; it contains an introduction written by Moses Williams, author of 'Repertorium Poeticum,' dedicating the translation to Harry Lloyd of Llanllawddog, serjeant-at-law. 6. 'Catecism o'r Scrythur,' Shrewsbury, 1717; a translation of Matthew Henry's 'Catechism' which ran through several editions. 7. 'Tyred a Groesaw at lesu Grist,' Shrewsbury, 1719; a translation of Bunyan's 'Come and Welcome to Jesus Christ.' 8. 'Yr Ymarfer o Lonyddwch,' Carmarthen, 1730; 2nd ed., Bodedern, Anglesea, 1760; a translation of 'The Practice of Quietness,' by Dr. George Webb.

[Rowlands's Llyfryddiaeth y Cymry; Williams's Enwogion Ceredigion; Enwogion y Ffydd, iii. 22-5 ; Rees's Protestant Nonconformity in Wales, 2nd edit. p. 300.]

D. Ll. T.