Williams, Morris (DNB00)

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WILLIAMS, MORRIS (1809–1874), Welsh poet, known in bardic circles as ‘Nicander,’ was the son of William Morris of Pentyrch Isaf by his wife Sarah, daughter of William Jones of Coed Cae Bach, in the parish of Llan Gybi, Carnarvonshire. He was born on 20 Aug. 1809 at Carnarvon (Geninen, iv. 143–4), but the family settled soon afterwards at Coed Cae Bach. After attending school at Llan Ystumdwy he was apprenticed to a carpenter; he showed at an early age much skill in writing Welsh verse, and contributed an ode to the ‘Gwyliedydd’ in 1827. He was encouraged to prepare for orders and, with the help of friends, entered King's school, Chester, in 1830. On 13 April 1832 he matriculated at Oxford from Jesus College, graduating B.A. in 1835 and M.A. in 1838. He was ordained deacon at Chester in 1836, and held curacies at Holywell, Pentir, and Llanllechid successively. In 1840 he was ordained priest. He received in 1847 the perpetual curacy of Amlwch, which he held until 1859, when the rectory of Llan Rhuddlad (with Llan Fflewin and Llan Rhwydrus attached) in the county of Anglesey was conferred upon him. In 1872 he was appointed rural dean of Talebolion. He died at Llan Rhuddlad on 3 Jan. 1874, and was buried there. In 1840 he married Ann Jones of Denbigh. One of his sons, W. Glynn Williams, is headmaster of Friars school, Bangor.

His connection with eisteddfodau began in 1849 at Aberffraw, when he was awarded the chair prize for an ode on ‘The Creation.’ It was in this competition he first assumed the title of ‘Nicander.’ He subsequently won prizes for poems at Rhuddlan (1850), Llangollen (1858), Denbigh (1860), Aberdare (1861), and Carnarvon (1862). In 1851 he acted as adjudicator of poetry at Portmadoc eisteddfod, and thereafter was much in request for work of this kind until his death. Except the ode on ‘The Creation,’ which appeared in the Aberffraw volume of ‘Transactions,’ none of Nicander's prize poems have been published, but the following other works were issued by him: 1. ‘Y Flwyddyn Eglwysig,’ Bala, 1843; a series of poems on the plan of ‘The Christian Year.’ 2. Welsh versions of Dr. Sutton's ‘Disce vivere’ and ‘Disce mori,’ under the titles ‘Dysga fyw’ (1847) and ‘Dysga farw’ (1848). 3. ‘Llyfr yr Homiliau,’ Bala, 1847; a revised edition of the homilies of 1606. 4. ‘Y Psallwyr,’ London, 1850; a new metrical version of the Psalms (2nd edit. 1851). 5. ‘Gwaith Dafydd Ionawr,’ Dolgelly, 1851, edited by Nicander. 6. ‘Y Dwyfol Oraclau,’ Holyhead, 1861; an expository treatise. 7. ‘Awdl Sant Paul,’ Tremadoc, 1865. An edition is in preparation of ‘Chwedlau Esop,’ a rendering by him into Welsh verse of the fables of Æsop which appeared in instalments in the ‘Haul’ (1868–74). Nicander, though not to be ranked with the foremost of Welsh poets, was equally deft in the use of the free and the ‘strict’ metres, and wrote, especially in his letters, Welsh prose of remarkable vigour.

[Information kindly furnished by Mr. W. Glynn Williams; Foster's Alumni Oxon. 1715–1886; Geninen, ii. 91, 252, iv. 142, 143–4, 282–3; Adgof uwch Anghof, pp. 228–59; Transactions of Aberffraw Eisteddfod.]

J. E. L.