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THE DAVID WILLIAMS MANUSCRIPTS
Much search has been made for the missing papers of David Williams (1738-
1816; the founder of the Royal Literary Fund), notably by the late Sir John
Ballinger, when librarian at Cardiff, and, in later years, by the present writer.
According to the Reverend Alexander Gordon (D.N.B. sub nom. David Williams),
Williams, by his will dated 16 July 1814, left his papers to his executors, Richard
Yates and Thomas Wittingham, and his other property to his niece and house-
keeper, Mary Watkins. The latter was the daughter of his sister, Mrs. Watkin
Abram, (anonymous article, by Dr. T. W. Thomas, in Pebyll Seion, Cardiff, 1904,
p. 122), and she, herself, died in 1845. T. Rees and J. Thomas, Hanes Eglwysi
Annibynol Cymru, Liverpool, 1872, II, 414, state, on the other hand, that Williams
left his books and some other things to his sister, the wife of Walter Thomas,
minister at Llanvaches and elsewhere.
Interest in these papers was shown towards the middle of the last century by
Evan Evans, a magistrates' clerk at Caerphilly for many years who was also the
leading business man in the town, and who combined with his many other occu-
pations that of a banker. (Information supplied to the present writer by
Mr. E. Bromley Edmunds, in a letter dated 5 April 1941.) Evan Evans was an
antiquarian and the author of a MS. essay on 'The Etymology and Early History
of Caerphilly' now acquired by the National Library of Wales (N.L.W. MS. 15270).
His son, the Reverend Walter Evans, rector of Halkyn, Holywell, in a letter dated
3 May 1890 to the Western Mail stated that about the middle of the forties he
accompanied his father to Gwaelod y Garth to the house of a David Thomas, a
carpenter whom he believed to be also an innkeeper. Thomas, he says, was 'a not
remote relative of the founder of the Literary Fund'. There they found 'a heap
of papers kept in a box in the carpenter's shop, the heap being gradually diminished
by the necessities of the glue pot'. Amongst other things there were 'five letters
of Benjamin Franklin, one of Voltaire, one of Frederick the Great, one of Talley-
rand, &c' as well as a MS. autobiography. This autobiography Evan Evans was
permitted to take home with him, and he had an exact transcript made of it before
returning it to the owner. The Reverend Walter Evans states that enquiries on
the spot made later (presumably about 1890) to ascertain whether it was still in
existence had been without success. He adds that he had then in his possession
a great many letters addressed to, and some written by, David Williams, but that
they were of no great interest.
It may well be that it was the Reverend Walter Evans's letter which prompted
'Morien' to write a lengthy but unfinished article on David Williams in the Western
Mail (22 May 1890, reprinted in Weekly Mail, 31 May 1890) which incorporated
much new material, and which was used by the Reverend Alexander Gordon for
his article in the D.N.B.. 'Morien' there reveals that the original MS. auto-
biography was then 'at the residence of Mr. Thomas Jenkins, Pantscallog, Dowlais,
a great-grandson of one of David Williams's two sisters'. This was, in fact, only
one of several documents in this collection, which was acquired by purchase from
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