Sir John Rhŷs of Ponterwyd

19 February 2015

The Old College, where Sir John Rhŷs lectured on Welsh Philology in 1874
The Old College, where Sir John Rhŷs lectured on Welsh Philology in 1874

The Department of Welsh and the Hugh Owen Library at Aberystwyth University, in conjunction with the National Library of Wales and the Royal Commission of the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales, will host a conference this weekend (20th and 21st February) to commemorate Sir John Rhŷs (1840-1915).

A native of Ponterwyd, Sir John Rhŷs was Principal of Jesus College, Oxford when he died on the 17th of December 1915.

The conference will begin on Friday February 20 with a public lecture in the Old College Examination Hall with historian Dr Russell Davies; ‘“The disenchantment of the world?” Sir John Rhŷs and his period’. The lecture starts at 7.30 and entry is free.

Details of conference program for Saturday February 21, which is held in the Seddon Room, Old College, are available on the Department of Welsh website here.

Elgan Davies, librarian at Aberystwyth University Hugh Owen Library, and one of the organizers of the conference: “Many people are familiar with the name John Rhŷs but may not know much about him by now. He was a very important man in his day and was a member of many important committees in Wales and beyond.

“Rhŷs was one of the greats of the late Victorian era in the British context, as well as Wales. When Rhŷs died he left his personal papers to the National Library of Wales and library to the University and he was also chairman of Royal Commission of the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales, so Aberystwyth is a natural centre for studying his work, and why we have organized the conference – and also to raise awareness of Rhŷs and of his work.”

He added: "It is very appropriate that this conference is being held at the Old College. In the month of May 1874 Rhŷs delivered two lectures on the linguistics of the Welsh language, which according to some, proved to be the starting point of his academic career.”

There was a long and detailed report about the lectures in the Cambrian News which is available here.

The topics to be covered on Saturday are:
‘“Pwy bia’r plât llyfr lliwgar y na?”: Llyfrau Syr John Rhŷs yn Llyfrgell Prifysgol Aberystwyth’ - Elgan Davies
(“Whose colourful book-plate is that?”: Sir John Rhŷs’ books in Aberystwyth University Library)
'Agor yr archif. Posibiliadau ymchwil ym Mhapurau John Rhŷs yn Llyfrgell Genedlaethol Cymru' – Dr Maredudd ap Huw a Nia Daniel
(Opening up the archive. Research opportunities in the John Rhŷs Papers at the National Library of Wales)
‘Gleanings in the Italian Field of Celtic Epigraphy’– Dr Alexander Falileyev
‘Arwr mawr Aberceiro fach’: Ysbrydoliaeth gan Syr John Rhŷs – Mary Lloyd Jones
(The great hero of Aberceiro fach: The inspiration of Sir John Rhŷs)
‘Portreadau o John Rhŷs’– Lona Mason
(Portraits of Sir John Rhŷs’)
‘Golwg newydd ar Lectures in Welsh Philology’ – Dr Simon Rodway
‘A new look at Lectures in Welsh Philology’
'John Rhŷs as a pioneer in the study of Manx' – Christopher Lewin
‘Cylch ei ohebiaeth’– Dr Richard Glyn Roberts
(‘His correspondence’)
‘Sir John Rhŷs and the foundation of the Royal Commission’– Richard Suggett

This will be the first of two conferences on Rhŷs and his work, as a second with different speakers on different topics (which reflects the breadth of his interests and influence) will be held in Y Drwm at the National Library Wales on 4/5 December 2015.


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Elgan Davies
Hugh Owen Library
Aberystwyth University
01970 622788 /

Bleddyn Huws
Department of Welsh
Aberystwyth University
01970 622116 /

Dr Marged Haycock
Department of Welsh
Aberystwyth University
01970 621815 /

Arthur Dafis
Communications, Marketing and Public Affairs
Aberystwyth University
01970 621763 / 07841979452 /