Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Ellis, Robert (1810-1875)

ELLIS, ROBERT (Cynddelw) (1810–1875), baptist minister and Welsh poet, was born on 3 Feb. 1810, in Ty'n-y-meini, in the parish of Llarhaindr yn Mochnant, Denbeighshire. He went to school for two months to Llanwyddelen and for one month to Llnnarmon. His only other education was at the Sunday school. When he had grown up to manhood, and had begun preaching, be went for some months to one John Williams of Llansilin, whose biography he afterwards wrote. Here he read, among other things, Watts 'On the Mind' and 'On Logic' The teacher's remarks and questions on these works stimulated Ellis's mind. His thirst for knowledge was henceforth insatiable. He read everything that came in his way, and his library became ultimately perhaps one of the largest and most valuable private libraries in the Principality. He had no fear of reputed heretics. In the words of his biographer, 'the names of Stuart Mill, Huxley, Matthew Arnold, &c., were no terror to him; but he ventured out with them, listened to them, weighed them, and formed his own opinion of them.' On 5 Oct. 1854 he began preaching', and in May 1837 he settled as minister of Llanelian and Llanddulas; in 1838 we find him in Glynceiriog, Denbighshire; in Sirhowy, Monmouthshire, 1847; and in Carnarvon, 1862-75. Ellis died on 20 Aug. 1875, while on a preaching tour, at his brother-in-law's house at Gartheryr. As a preacher he is said to have been learned rather than popular, though as a public lecturer he was both popular and learned, Iolo Morganwg, Carnhuanawe, and Thomas Stephens may have gone deeper into antiquarian subjects, but Ellis showed more skill in popularising them. The subjects of some of these lectures were ancient Welsh wisdom, Welsh proverbs, Welsh laws, &c.

His published works are:

  1. . 'Lectures on Baptism,' 1841.
  2. 'An Ode (Awdl) on the Resurrection,' 1849; 2nd edition, 1852.
  3. 'Tafol y Beirdd, an Essay on Welsh Prosody,' 1852.
  4. 'The Principles of Biblical Exogisia,' 1854.
  5. 'Exposition of the Bible,' which began to appear in parts in June 1855, and was still going on when he died.
  6. 'An Elegy (Awdl Farwnod) on Gwrwst,' 1856.
  7. 'Memoir of Dr. Ellis Evans,' 1864.
  8. 'Geiriadur Cymrneg Cyrareig,' 1868.
  9. 'Memoir of John Williams,' 1871.
  10. Portions of 'Hanes y Brytaniaid a'r Cymry' (Mackenzie), 1870-1.
  11. 'Catecism y Bedyddwyr, Holwyddoreg ar Fywyd Crist, Manion Hynafiaethol, Awdl ar Ddyetawrwydd,' 1873.

Second edition of Rees Jones's 'Gorchestion Beirdd Cymru,' first published in 1773, with extensive and valuable notes (date of preface, 1861); 2nd edition of Dr. W. O. Pughe's 'Dafydd ab Gwilym,' with a valuable introduction; his last published work was on the Atonement. Besides these he wrote largely for the periodical literature of the day, some of his best articles being found in the 'Traethodydd,' 'Geiriadur Beiblaidda Duwinyddol Mathetes,' 'Gwyddoniadur,' 'Geirlyfr Bywgraffiadol Foulkes,' &c.

His poetical works, published in 1877, were edited by Ioan Arion, and bound with them was his biography prepared for the Wrexham Eisteddfod by the Rev. J. Spinther James.

[James's Biography, as above.]

R. J. J.