b. Sept. 3, 1741, Llanvihangel Glyn y Myvyr, Denbighshire
d. Dec. 26, 1814, London
Though legend paints him as a peasant who sunk his savings into a project to bring Welsh poetry into print, the fact is that in 1760, Jones was apprenticed to a London furrier, and became quite successful in that business. However, it is true that his growing nationalistic streak, common to the time, lead him to collect numerous manuscripts.
In 1772, he founded the Gwyneddigion Society in London, which was devoted to the study of Welsh literature, and which had attempted to revive the National Eisteddfod in 1798. Here, Edward Williams (Iolo Morgannwng) began to attend, seizing upon the ideas of the society, and the recreation of Welsh literary culture. In the next thirty years, with the help of Williams and Dr. William Owen Pughe, Jones published Y Myvyrian Archaiology, the first significant publication of medieval Welsh literature, between the years of 1801 and 1807.
During this period, in 1805, he began work another anthology called The Greal, which today is nearly impossible to come by. Only a single volume was published, containing some works which were not included in the MA. He also published a volume of Dafydd ap Gwilym's poetry. It is said that the manuscripts he collected--now housed with the British Musuem--number over 100 volumes.
In 1814, he died at his furrier office on Upper Thames Street, London.
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Mary Jones © 2004