Rowlands, David (DNB12)

ROWLANDS, DAVID, 'Dewi Mon' (1836–1907), Welsh scholar and poet, son of John and Margaret Rowlands, was born on 4 March 1836 at Geufron, Rhosybol, Anglesey. Two years later, his father moved to the farm at Ty Cristion, Bodedern. After a village education he was apprenticed at thirteen, and spent some time in shops at Holyhead and Hatfield. But at the instance of the Rev. W. Griffith, Holyhead, he became an independent preacher, and in 1853 entered Bala Congregational College. Thence he went in 1856 to New College, London; he returned to Bala in 1857 for a year as assistant-tutor, and in 1858 became a member of the Congregational College at Brecon, graduating B.A. at London University in 1860. His first pastorate was at Llanbrynmair (1861–6); he was then for four years (1866–70) minister of the English church at Welshpool, and for two (1870–2) of the English church at Carmarthen. From 1872 to 1897 he was one of the tutors of Brecon College, and from 1897 head of the institution. He died at Brecon on 7 Jan. 1907.

Rowlands, whose bardic name was ‘Dewi Mon,’ was of versatile gifts, an able preacher and teacher, a skilful writer of Welsh and English verse, and a conspicuous figure in Welsh literary and political life. In his later years the critical state of his health kept him somewhat in retirement. His chief works are: 1. ‘Caniadau Serch’ (Welsh lyrics), Bala, 1855, published when he was nineteen. 2. ‘Sermons on Historical Subjects,’ London, 1870. 3. ‘Grammadeg Cymraeg,’ Wrexham, 1877, a short Welsh grammar. 4. ‘Gwersi mewn Grammadeg,’ Dolgelly, 1882, a manual of lessons in grammar. 5. A Welsh version of the ‘Alcestis’ of Euripides, 1887, sent in for competition at the Aberdare eisteddfod of 1885; it divided the prize with another version and both were printed in one volume at the cost of the marquis of Bute. 6. ‘Telyn Tudno,’ Wrexham, 1897, containing the life and works of his brother-in-law, the poet Tudno (Thomas Tudno Jones). Rowlands worked much with the composer Joseph Parry, [q. v. Suppl. II], and supplied English words for the opera ‘Blodwen’ and the oratorios ‘Emmanuel’ and ‘Joseph’; he was also literary editor of Parry's ‘Cambrian Minstrelsie’ (Edinburgh, 1893). He was one of the four editors of the hymns in ‘Y Caniedydd Cynulleidfaol’ (London, 1895), the hymn and tune book of the Welsh congregationalists, and in 1902 was chairman of the Congregational Union of Wales. He took a leading part in Breconshire politics and was a member of the committee which drafted the county scheme of intermediate education. He married (1) in 1864, Mary Elizabeth, daughter of William Roberts of Liverpool, by whom he left a son, Wilfred; (2) in 1897, Alice, step-daughter of J. Prothero, of Brecon.

[Who's Who, 1907; ‘Album Aberhonddu’ ed. T. Stephens, 1898, pp. 118–9; T. R. Roberts, Dict. of Eminent Welshmen; Brit. Weekly, 10 Jan. 1907; Geninen, March 1907; Congregational Yearbook, 1908, pp. 196–7.]

J. E. L.