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Tribute to an Historian

'To lead in a special field of knowledge is a great, but not inordinately rare distinction. But to conquer for oneself from scratch a whole such field is rarer; and this is what Francis Jones has done for the system of Welsh heraldry.'

Thus Sir Anthony Wagner, Garter King of Arms, commencing his tribute to Wales Herald Extraordinary in an essay which accompanies a dozen others under the title of Carmarthenshire Studies, published by the former Carmarthenshire County Council to mark the retirement of its County Archivist in March of this year, just as the ancient name of Dyfed acquired a new territorial meaning brought about by local government reorganisation.

But though he has been a pioneer in the field of Welsh genealogy, Major Francis Jones has not confined his labours to the highly specialised area which he has made very much his own. His intellectual garden has been littered with the parchments of Welsh history, which he has carefully gathered for scholarly scrutiny. Driven by devotion rather than the hope of material reward, he has researched and written tirelessly about aspects of Welsh history and more particularly about the local history of his native Dyfed; if anyone should doubt it, there is in the book an appendix of six pages cataloguing his published books and articles over a period of forty years, a large proportion of them having been written since he came to Carmarthen in 1959 to establish the County Record Office.

That friends, colleagues and admirers should now present him with a collection of essays is a tribute more timely than a gold watch, more serviceable than a silver salver, for besides honouring a scholar it will long remain, one feels, a source book and another reminder that there was once a piece of Wales that went by the name of Shir Gar, even though some of the contributors have gone outside its boundaries to find the source of their tributes in what were Cardiganshire and Pembrokeshire.

The editors, Tudor Barnes and Nigel Yates, former assistants to Major Francis Jones who have contributed their own essays, are to be congratulated on assembling the work of so many well-known writers in the scene of local history, a number of eminent academics among them. Appropriately, the soft cover bears a facsimile, faded tinctures to boot, extracted from the Dynevor pedigree, and the work has been attractively turned out by V. G. Lodwick & Sons, the Carmarthen printers. The price is 1.95.

E.V.J.
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