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National Library of Wales
Llanover, manuscripts

Reference code(s): GB 0210 LLANOV

Held at: National Library of Wales

Title: Llanover Manuscripts

Short Title: Llanover, manuscripts

Creation date(s): [1501x1858]

Level of description: Fonds.

Extent: 124 volumes.

Name of creator(s): 'Iolo Morganwg'; Taliesin Williams; Cymdeithas Cymreigyddion y Fenni; and others.


Administrative/Biographical history: Edward Williams ('Iolo Morganwg') was born and lived for the greater part of his life in Glamorgan. He is said to have received no schooling other than from his mother and from the numerous poets he met throughout his life and who taught him their craft. It was while residing in London from 1791 to 1795 that 'Iolo' began to expound the doctrines of bardism and to hold 'druidical' gorseddau on Primrose Hill. When an eisteddfod was held in Carmarthen in 1819 under the auspices of the Dyfed Provincial Society 'Iolo' succeeded in including the gorsedd as a prominent part of the proceedings. He maintained that he had discovered 'bardic' manuscripts in Glamorgan and in his old age busied himself in arranging to publish the material in his Cyfrinach Beirdd Ynys Prydain ([?1828]). 'Iolo' has been considered something of a charlatan: he invented much of the bardic, literary and historical material he wrote, including alleged 'medieval' poetry, as well as the 'druidic' 'traditions' as they are expressed in eisteddfodau to this day. He was, however, an excellent poet in his own right and was possessed of a complex, if unorthodox, mind.


Scope and content/abstract: The collection can be divided into four groups, viz. ( 1) a collection of manuscripts (late sixteenth-eighteenth century) containing transcripts of Welsh poems and prose items being largely volumes of Glamorganshire origin acquired by the Welsh poet and antiquary Edward Williams ('Iolo Morganwg') and forming part of his library, (2) the 'Iolo MSS.' consisting of the miscellaneous note-books, papers, etc., of the aforementioned Edward Williams bound into eighty volumes, (3) miscellaneous papers and correspondence of the society known as 'Cymdeithas Cymreigyddion y Fenni' ('The Abergavenny Cymreigyddion Society'), 1836-1848, and (4) miscellaneous other manuscripts. The second group contains a mass of notes on matters of Welsh literary, historical, and antiquarian interest, transcripts of historical documents, transcripts of Welsh poems, series of triads, and prose compositions, and copies of original poems, essays, and reports by the scribe himself, etc. Amongst the historical and antiquarian material are items which Welsh scholars do not accept as authentic but which they regard as being spurious and the fruit of Edward Williams's inventive mind. The literary material in this group too has its quota of items which are regarded as forgeries, including Welsh poems written by Edward Williams himself in imitation of the style, etc., of earlier poets and attributed by him to such poets. The accounts given below of the contents of the manuscripts which belong to this second group are intended to be descriptive and not analytical, and, except in the case of major 'forgeries' such as the chronicle 'Brut Aberpergwm' and the poems attributed to Dafydd ap Gwilym, and a few other items such as letters attributed to the Reverend Edward Gamage, etc., no attempt is made to include comments on the authenticity or spuriousness of the items noted. Many of the Welsh items contained in the volumes belonging to the second group were published with English translations and notes subsequent to the death of Edward Williams in Taliesin Williams (ed.): Iolo Manuscripts. A Selection of Ancient Welsh Manuscripts in Prose and Verse from the Collection made by the late Edward Williams . . . (Llandovery, 1848) and John Williams Ab Ithel (ed.): Barddas or a Collection of Original Documents illustrative of the Theology, Wisdom, and Usages of the Bardo - Druidic System of the Isle of Britain, vol. I (Llandovery, 1862), and vol. II (London, 1874). In the following descriptions of the manuscripts frequent references will be made to three works by the late Professor Griffith John Williams, professor of Welsh at the University College of Wales, Cardiff, 1946-1957, viz. Iolo Morganwg a Chywyddau'r Ychwanegiad (Llundain, 1926), Traddodiad Llenyddol Morgannwg (Caerdydd, 1948), and Iolo Morganwg. Y Gyfrol Gyntaf (Caerdydd, 1956). The abbreviations IMCY, TLLM, and IM, will be used in such references.


Language/scripts of material: Welsh, English, Latin, Greek, Hebrew, French, Cornish, Anglo-Saxon.

System of arrangement: Arranged according to NLW MSS reference numbers: NLW MSS 13061-13184.

Conditions governing access:

Conditions governing reproduction:

Finding aids: The descriptions are also available in the Handlist of Manuscripts in the National Library of Wales, Volume IV (Aberystwyth, 1971).


Appraisal, destruction and scheduling information: All records have been retained.

Accruals: Accruals are not expected.

Archival history: After the death of Edward Williams ('Iolo Morganwg') the manuscripts in group (1) and the then unbound note-books and papers of group (2) came into the possession of his son the above- mentioned Taliesin Williams ('Taliesin ab Iolo'), and some time after his death they were acquired by Sir Benjamin Hall, bart. (aft. baron Llanover), and his wife Lady Augusta (née Waddington) of Llanover, co. Monmouth. Lady Hall was actively associated with 'Cymdeithas Cymreigyddion y Fenni' and the presence of group (3) amongst the Llanover MSS is probably due to this association. The present collection was deposited in the National Library of Wales in 1916 by Lady Llanover's grandson Major- General Sir Ivor John Caradoc Herbert, bart. (aft. 1st baron Treowen), and the deposit was converted into a donation in 1939 by Lord Treowen's daughter the Hon. Mrs. Walter Francis Roch of Llanarth Court, Raglan, co. Monmouth. Some tems missing in 1916 were later deposited separately and are now listed among the Iolo Aneurin Williams MSS.

Immediate source of acquisition: Donated by the Honourable Mrs Walter Francis Roch of Llanarth Court, Raglan in 1939.


Existence and location of copies: NLW MSS 13063B, 13069B and 13167B are available at NLW as working copies on microfilm (no film numbers allocated).

Related material: For additional manuscripts and other items from the library of Edward Williams ('Iolo Morganwg') and for correspondence to and from Edward Williams and his son Taliesin Williams donated to the National Library of Wales see the Library's Annual Reports, 1953-1954, pp. 34-5; 1954-1955, pp. 33, 39-40; 1958-1959, p. 40: 1959-1960, p. 39; and 1960-1961, p. 39.

Publication note: The provenance of Edward Williams's manuscripts, correspondence, etc., subsequent to his death in 1826 is discussed by Professor G. Y. Williams in his aforementioned volume Iolo Morganwg (see Introduction, pp. xi-xx). See also Lemuel John Hopkin James, 'The Llanover MSS', Journal of the Welsh Bibliographical Society, I, No. 6 (Feb. 1914), 180-3.


Note: Title based on contents. Formerly known as Llanover B 1 i-ii - Llanover E. 17 (see individual file descriptions) + previously unnumbered volumes.

Archivist's note: Description compiled by Bethan Ifans for the retrospective conversion project of NLW MSS. The following sources were used in the compilation of this description: Handlist of Manuscripts in the National Library of Wales, Volume IV (Aberystwyth, 1971); Y Bywgraffiadur Ar-lein, viewed via WWW, 23 April 2010; Cydymaith i Lenyddiaeth Cymru (Llandysul, 1986).

Rules or conventions: This description follows ANW guidelines based on ISAD(G) second edition, AACR2 and LCSH.

Date(s) of descriptions: April - June 2010.

Cymdeithas Cymreigyddion y Fenni | Archives
Cymdeithas Cymreigyddion y Fenni | Records and correspondence
Iolo Morganwg, | 1747-1826 | Archives

Personal names
Iolo Morganwg , 1747-1826

Corporate names
Cymdeithas Cymreigyddion y Fenni


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