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Letter to the Editor

I would like to comment on the note on John Jones (1772-1837) of Derwydd, Llandybie (Vol. viii, 1971, pp. 77-8), where it is stated that Y Cyfammod Newydd, his translation of the Gospels, "has been dismissed as almost worthless because of the author's evident unfamiliarity with some of the simplest rules of Welsh construction".1 I have a copy of Y Cyfammod Newydd (1818) in my possession, and far from finding it "almost worthless" and the author unfamiliar with the simplest rules of Welsh construction, I find it quite readable.

In his preface to the work Jones states (I translate) that "the Gospel had been given in the Welsh language in such a careless way that I have taken the task in hand of revising it according to the Greek". He was of the erroneous opinion that the translators had no knowledge of the Greek original, that they had made their translation from Latin the Vulgate, I presume. But he paid them the compliment of adopting the authorised version as the basis of his translation, adding many idiosyncrasies of his own which, if they sound strange in our ears, are quite readable. He was under the influence of the strange ideas of Dr. William Owen Pughe, the Welsh grammarian and lexicographer, but so also were many other Welsh authors of his age.

To prove my point, here is John Jones's version of the Lord's Prayer:
"Ein Tad yr hwn wyt yn y nefoedd; sancteiddier dy enw. Deued dy lywodraeth: gwneler dy ewyllys felly ar y ddaear, megis y mae yn y nefoedd. Dyro i ni heddyw ein bara beunyddiol. A maddeu i ni ein dyledion, fel y maddeiwn ninnau i'n dyledwŷr. Ac nac arwain ni i brofedigaeth; eithr gwared ni rhag y drwg : canys eiddot ti yw'r lywodraeth, a'r gallu, a'r gogoniant, dros bob oesoedd."

No, Dr John Jones was not so inept as your contributor makes him out to be.

Brynawel, Llandybie.

In 1949 I wrote a short article for the journal of the Honourable Society of Cymmrodorion on the murder of William Powell of Glanareth in the parish of Llangadock. The crime took place on 8th January 1770 and a number of the murderers were tried and convicted at the Hereford Assizes on 28th March 1770.

I mentioned in my article that I had in my possession an inter-leaved copy of A Calendar of all the High Sheriffs for the County of Carmarthen. This book was printed by J. Evans, Lower Market Street, Carmarthen in 1818, and it contains in a contemporary hand against the name of Walter Powell, High Sheriff for the year 1752 the following note: "This year William Powell, natural son of Walter Powell, High Sheriff was tried and acquitted for the murder of his father's housekeeper."

I should be interested if any reader could throw some light on this event or provide information about the trial that may be recorded in local archives.

Reference to this crime has been recorded by George Cumberland (1754-1848), the author of An Attempt to Describe Hafod and numerous other works. Cumberland, who was a friend of the artist Blake, made several excursions into Wales and I am fortunate to own the manuscript copy, with drawings, of his account of his tour in 1784. Cumberland was accompanied by his friend Charles Long, MP, afterwards Lord Farnborough. Unfortunately they did not visit Carmarthenshire but made their way through north Cardiganshire to North Wales. The journey is not dated day by day, but the two arrived at Raglan, where they proceeded to sketch the ruins of the castle. Cumberland writes:
"On returning to the Inn, we found a woman sitting in the porch, of about 30 years of age, whose dress and features betrayed the strongest marks of insanity, during the whole day she never ceased to talk, sing, or cry, and kept continually walking about the inn and its neighbourhood; all night she said she walked about the ruins of the Castle, and as her figure was rather interesting, we could not help making inquiries about this young woman, for she appeared to have been very handsome, and tho' lean, was still well made. The people related that she was sister to a Gentleman of good property in Carmarthen, a Mr Gwin, and the cause of her insanity was said to have been the trial of the murderer of Mr Powell, a case in which many people were said to be implicated, by her own account she had broke away from a madhouse in London, and travelled down bare foot into Wales. She said she had been some days before at Monmouth, where the children had wounded her with stones, and she showed me two bad wounds in her breast yet seemed to take little notice of them for she said, 'no blows could hurt her there,' not being able to speak to the welch we could learn little more about this poor interesting maniac."

It would be interesting also if anyone could shed light on "Mr Gwin" and whether this poor young woman was in any way associated with Captain Marmaduke Bowen, a member of the Bowen family of Gurrey, who together with his son Lewis Lloyd Bowen, was tried as being accessary to the murder at Hereford Assizes on 21st March 1771. Both were acquitted. Captain Bowen, a brother-in-law of William Powell, was one of his most bitter enemies.

Fosse Hill, Coates, Cirencester.
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