Williams, Griffith (1769-1838) (DNB00)

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WILLIAMS, GRIFFITH (1769–1838), Welsh bard, only son of William Williams and his wife Catherine, daughter of Morgan Griffith, was born at Hafod Oleu in the parish of Llan Beblig, Carnarvonshire, on 2 Feb. 1769. Not long after his birth the family moved to Llwyn Celyn, Llan Beris; his father died soon afterwards, and when he had been a twelve month at school he was forced to seek employment as a farm hand. After serving in various farms at Anglesey he found work in 1790 at Lord Penrhyn's quarry, and henceforward followed for thirty years the occupation of a quarryman, holding subordinate offices as he grew older. He married, on 21 June 1794, Elizabeth, daughter of Ellis Jones, and in a few years moved to her home at Braich Talog, Llan Degai, where he spent the rest of his days. He died on 18 Sept. 1838, and was buried at Llan Degai.

'Gutyn Peris' (such was his bardic title) won his first triumph as a bard in 1803, when the Gwyneddigion Society awarded him their medal for his ode to the memory of Goronwy Owen [q. v.] In 1808 he composed for Lady Penrhyn a Welsh elegy upon her husband; two years later he was the winner at St. Asaph eisteddfod of prizes for an ode on the royal jubilee and another to the memory of Queen Elizabeth. Some of his poems were printed by Dafydd Ddu Eryri in 'Corph y Gaine' (1810), and in 1816 he published a volume of Welsh verse himself, entitled 'Ffrwyth Awen.' In 1811 he again won a prize for an ode to 'Agriculture.' During the rest of his life he was less successful; his ode on 'Belshazzar's Feast' was second at Denbigh in 1828, but was printed with the winner's in the 'Transactions' of the eisteddfod (Chester, 1830); at Beaumaris also in 1832 he took the second place in the competition for the best ode on the 'Wreck of the Rothesay Castle.' His knowledge of the Welsh metres was thorough, but he had few of the gifts of a poet.

[There is a full memoir, with a portrait, in the Gwladgarwr for 1839; letters which passed between the poet and his brother bards will be found in Adgof uwch Anghof, Penygroes, 1883.]

J. E. L.