Seryddiaeth a Seryddwyr logo

The history of
Astronomy in

of the Subject


Books and

Societies in

in Wales

in Wales


Eclipses in

Falls in Wales

Names of

Odds and




An English translation of Chapter 24 of
Seryddiaeth a Seryddwyr

A translation into English of Chapter 24 of Seryddiaeth a Seryddwyr [Astronomy and Astronomers] by the Rev. J. Silas Evans.

The translation from Welsh into English is by Rhys Morris.

The chapter, entitled Seryddiaeth yng Nghymru (Astronomy in Wales), presents the history of the science relating to Wales, with emphasis on biographical information about characters originating from Wales or living in Wales who have studied and contributed to astronomy. The chapter provides an excellent summary of the subject up to 1923, the date of publication.

I am indebted to Mr. Arthur Mee [of Cardiff] for large parts of this chapter. He has put his wide knowledge at my disposal, with his consent, and more, for me to quote as much as I wish (and the more the better he says) from his articles, in particular because I am writing in a different language to him.

It must be said that although Wales has famous people such as Principal Griffiths [Ernest Howard Griffiths, physicist, Principal of the University College of South Wales, 1901-1918], the late Sir William Preece, Principal Viriamu Jones [John Viriamu Jones, 1856-1901, physicist, Principal of the University College of South Wales, 1883-1901], and Richard Roberts the famous inventor, it is not in science that Wales excels but in other directions. Despite this, it would be easy to show that some Welsh people in every age have cherished Astronomy as well as astrology. Soon after the start of the Christian period, Don, father of Amaethon, Gwdion, Govannon, Eunydd, and Arianrhod, is mentioned. This was a famous family in relation to astronomy and some constellations bear their names, namely Cassiopeia- "Llys Don"; Corona Borealis - "Caer Arianrhod", and the Milky Way "Caer Gwdion." Gwdion flourished around 250 A.D., and in one of the triads he, and Gwyn Ab Nudd and Idris are called the "White Star Men". Perhaps Idris "observed" in his Observatory on the summit of Cadair Idris [the translation is Idris' Chair]. We also know that the cromlechs [ancient megalithic burial chambers] of the old Welsh were built to astronomical plans, but we do not have enough space to go into the history of the old ages.

Welsh literature through the centuries is rather quiet about astronomy, but we are not to surmise from that that no one cared about the science. There is an interesting reference in the works of Iolo Goch, M.A., of Coed Panton, Llanefydd, to the appearance of a comet in 1402. About that time the Owen Glyndwr rebellion erupted and in "Cywydd y Seren" [Cywydd of the Star, where cywydd is a form of poem in strict metre], Iolo took advantage of the appearance to support the cause of Glyndwr and by asserting that the comet was a sign of Glyndwr's success, this was a means of persuading many to fight for him, as noted by the Rev. J. C. Morrice.

Shakespeare places these words in Glyndwr's mouth :-

":at my nativity
The front of heaven was full of fiery shapes,
Of burning cressets; and at my birth,
The frame and huge foundation of the earth
Shaked like a coward."

"These signs have marked me extraordinary,
And all the courses of my life do shew,
I am not in the roll of common men."

(King Henry IV, Act iii, 1)

I wonder if Huw Llwyd was an astronomer? The lines written by Huw Machno in a poem of praise to him are suggestive:-

A'i ddrych, sy' wych o ddichell,
A wyl beth o'i law o bell.

[With his mirror, a fine trick,
sees things of his hand from afar.]

Huw Machno to Huw Llwyd, Cynfal, 1623.

(I am indebted to Principal J. H. Davies of Aberystwyth for the quotation [John Humphreys Davies, Principal, University College of Wales, Aberystwyth, 1919-1926].)

In 1510 a remarkable man called ROBERT RECORDE was born in Tenby. He was the son of Thomas Recorde of Tenby, and Rose, daughter of Thomas Jones of Machynlleth. A fellow of All Souls College, Oxford, he was the first in this country to write on arithmetic, mensuration, algebra and astronomy; he was generally considered the most educated man of his day. He was also a theologian and a doctor of the highest rank. He died in 1558.

We turn from Pembrokeshire to Carmarthenshire. Shortly after the discovery of the principle of the telescope we hear that THOMAS HARRIOT, the foremost authority on science in this country at that time, had sent for some of the lenses. A close friend of Harriot was SIR WILLIAM LOWER of Trefenty, near Laugharne, and JOHN PRYDDERCH [or John Protheroe] from Nantyrhebog, Sarnau, in the same area. Harriot sent one of the glasses to Lower and Prydderch and with this they were observing in Trefenty at the same time Galileo was in Italy. The history of this by Mr Mee can be found in Knowledge and The Nationalist. Sir William Lower was from Cornwall, but he married the daughter of Sir Thomas Perrot, and came to live in Trefenty. Prydderch's father was high sheriff of Carmarthenshire in 1599, and his mother was daughter of Robert Byrt, Mayor of Carmarthen in 1593. Prydderch married one of the Vaughans of Gelli Aur and was one of the forefathers of the Stepneys, Hamlyn Williams and other families. We can but admire these two praiseworthy astronomers, and I would agree with Mr. Mee's suggestion that a monument should be constructed in Trefenty to commemorate the fact that this was where the sky was observed for the first time in this country and this in the first year of the telescope's existence.

It is necessary to skip over a period at this point, up to -

WILLIAM JONES, F.R.S., (1675-1749).-He was born in Llanfihangel-tre'r-Beirdd, Anglesey; a famous mathematician and friend of Sir Isaac Newton, Halley and Dr. Johnson. His son was the famous scholar Sir William Jones.

JOSEPH HARRIS (1702-1764).-Eldest brother of Howel Harris of Trefecca. He was famous in science. He died in 1764 and there is a wall monument to him in Talgarth Church.

JOHN EDWARDS (1747-92).-Astronomer and poet; born in Denbigh. He died in London. Founder of the Society of Gwyneddigion [Society of the people of Gwynedd, a London-based Welsh society].

LEWIS EVANS (1755-1827). Born in Bassaleg. He built an observatory on Woolwich Common.

NATHANIEL PIGGOT and son, Frampton House, Vale of Glamorgan. Observers, and friends of Maskelyne, the Astronomer Royal.

REV. T. W. WEBB, Vicar of Hardwick, and son of Rev. John Webb, former vicar of St. John's, Cardiff. He is the author of the excellent book, Celestial Objects for Common Telescopes. There is a biography of him in Mr. Mee's book Observational Astronomy and also in the Dictionary of National Biography by the same author.

THE VENERABLE ARCHDEACON W. CONYBEARE BRUCE (1844-1919-died 75 years old). Eldest son of the Rev. William Bruce (brother of the first Lord Aberdare), and therefore a first cousin of the Hon. Mrs. Wynne Jones, wife of the Rev. J. Wynne Jones, M.A., former vicar of Caernarfon, but now Vicar of Llantrisant, Anglesey, and living in the old family mansion in Tre Iorwerth. The Archdeacon was educated in Oxford and he succeeded his father as Vicar of St. Nicholas, near Cardiff. He owned an excellent twelve-inch telescope, as well as an observatory. He knew many famous astronomers, and was due to become a famous astronomer himself, but devoted his life to the Church instead, a gain to the Church but a loss to Astronomy. In recent years he contented himself with a five-inch telescope. He was a bright character and one it is difficult to praise too highly.

ADMIRAL SMYTH, grandfather of the hero of Mafeking. Author of A Cycle of Celestial Objects. He lived in Cardiff for a while.

MR. FRANKLEN EVANS, who gave the current telescope and observatory as a gift to Cardiff.

LEWIS WESTON DILLWYN (1778-1855).-Of Penlle'rgaer. Although botany was his greatest delight, he was well known in many branches of science, and was a friend of Woolaston and Sir Humphrey Davy.

J. D. LLEWELYN, Penlle'rgaer, was well known in science, and a great friend of the Earl of Rosse. He raised a 4 3/4 [inch] Dollond telescope in Penlle'rgaer, where the respectable elderly gentleman Sir John Llewelyn, Bart., LL.D., now lives.

EDWARD MILLS, Llanidloes (1803-1865).-Useful articles can be had by the late Rev. Mordaf Pierce in "Y Traethodydd" [The Essayist] on the three Mills of Llanidloes, namely Richard, John and Edward. It is said of the Rev. John Mills, F.R.A.S., that "it is difficult to find anyone in Wales during the century [19th century] who was more renowned and famous in so many directions." Richard was also a character of unusual influence in his day in music and temperance. Edward was the astronomer. He made a model of the Solar System, 66 feet in circumference, showing all the movements of the members of the System, and one of the "wonders of the age," and poets of the day sang his praises. He also published a volume Y Darluniadur Anianyddol [An Illustrated Physics] around 1850, 256 pages, and 80 pictures. Around that time he moved from Llanidloes to Denbigh, where he died, and was buried in 1865.

Many Welsh people have served on the staff in Greenwich from time to time- among their ranks are the next three:-

J. W. THOMAS (Arfonwyson) (1805-1840).-He was born in the parish of Llandygai [near Bangor], and was educated in Pentir school, and later by Robert Roberts of Holyhead. He was a schoolmaster in Tregarth and Ffestiniog. In 1834 he went to London and was a supervisor at the Royal Observatory in Greenwich, and there he spent the rest of his short life. He was buried in St. Alphege, Greenwich.

THOMAS LEWIS, who retired recently. He is considered this country's leading authority on double stars.

EDWARD ROBERTS, chief assistant in the Nautical Almanac Office.

ROBERT ROBERTS, Holyhead.-Wales' most famous astronomer in his day. In The Cambrian in 1828 it is chronicled that he lectured in Welsh on the subject. He founded the Almanac Caergybi [Holyhead Almanac].

JOHN JONES, THE ASTRONOMER.-No chapter on Astronomy in Wales would be complete without mentioning John Jones, the Astronomer, from Bangor, who was called "the working-man astronomer". Born in Anglesey, he lost his father when he was 12 years old, but his whole mind was on education. One of the first books to attract his attention was Eleazar Roberts' translation of Dr. Dick's book on the Solar System. Within a short time his main endeavour was to make a telescope for himself, and after that another much larger. He also learnt Greek; indeed he said himself, "I am fond of all branches of knowledge - fond of Dan, Reuben and Issachar,- but I have one favourite- one Benjamin. I would sell them all to Egypt for me just to keep Benjamin- Astronomy!" He attracted the attention of Samuel Smiles, author of Self Help, and Smiles visited him and wrote about him in his book Men of Invention and Industry. His story is also told by Mr Mee in The Nationalist and by Mr. Parry Jenkins, F.R.A.S., formerly of Colwyn Bay, now of Ontario, in his booklet A Plea for the Reflecting Telescope. John Jones was made a member of the Astronomical Society of Wales, and no one deserved the honour more. He died in 1898, 80 years old.

Other astronomers of the same class as John Jones are THOMAS NORBURY and RHYS HOWELL of Merthyr.

ELEAZAR ROBERTS (1825-1912).-He was born in Pwllheli. It worries me that space does not allow me to go into detail, but his name is well known and permeates throughout Wales and beyond her borders. I am indebted to his son-in-law the Rev. O. J. Owen, M.A., of West Kirby [Wirral], for pictures of him and Dr. Isaac Roberts and his observatory, and a little of the story of the two famous characters. Eleazar Roberts published many works: a translation of Dr. Dick's Solar System, in two volumes; a multitude of essays in Y Traethodydd under the title "The Telescope and its Discoveries"; "Ymgom am y Ser" [a Conversation about the Stars] in Ymwelydd Misol [Monthly Visitor]; along with a great many articles in Y Geninen [The Leek] and other magazines on many subjects as well as Astronomy. He had an observatory in Hoylake [Wirral], and he was a friend of Dr. Isaac Roberts. It is a pity that space does not permit us to give more details about such a dear and pure character, a genius so brilliant, and a life so full of good deeds. Indeed, a star of the first magnitude set from the heavens and from the Welsh church when this mature Christian passed away in 1912 at the age of 87.

ISAAC ROBERTS, D.SC., F.R.S., F.R.A.S. (1829-1904). Born in Y Groes, two miles from Denbigh. I believe he is one of the greatest astronomers, if not the greatest of all, that Wales has ever produced. Besides the acknowledgement made above to the Rev. O. J. Owen, I am indebted also to Mr. Isaac Davies, 41, The Woodlands, Birkenhead, for some details about Dr. Isaac Roberts. A good history is to be had in Y Geninen [The Leek] in 1904 by the late Eleazar Roberts, and again by the same author in the Ywelydd Misol [Monthly Visitor] for August, 1905. It appears that his parents emigrated to America when he was a child, but returned shortly to Liverpool. He was apprenticed to the contractors Messers Johnson, and rose gradually in the business, and secured much wealth. He cultivated his mind at the same time, mainly through astronomy. He "observed" from Rock Park and Maghull, and later built an observatory costing thousands of pounds in Crowborough, Sussex. Taking photographs of the stars was his favourite occupation. He published two valuable volumes- Photos of Stars, Star-clusters and Nebulae [A Selection of Photographs of Stars, Star-clusters and Nebulae, The Universal Press, London, 1893, and Volume II in 1899]. His labours have enlarged astronomical knowledge greatly. In his later years he received a lot of help from his second wife, Dorethea Klumpke Roberts, who is herself in the front ranks of astronomers, and now lives in San Francisco. As proof of his affection for his country which he loves constantly- he is a Welshman to the tips of his fingers- he left a princely sum to the Colleges of Cardiff, Bangor and Liverpool. He died suddenly in 1904 in Crawborough aged 75 years. After cremation his ashes lay there for about five years, after which he was reburied in Flaybrick Hill Cemetery, in Birkenhead. His epitaph is notable.

"In memory of Isaac Roberts, Fellow of the Royal Society, one of England's pioneers in the domain of Celestial Photography. Born at Groes, near Denbigh, January 27, 1829, died at Starfield, Crowboro, Sussex, July 17, 1904, who spent his whole life in the search after Truth, and the endeavour to aid the happiness of others. Heaven is within us. This stone is erected in loving devotion by his widow

Dorethea Roberts née Klumpke."

On the other side of the stone is

"Heaven is within us, and we have the power to dwell in it all the days of our life in full happiness, or we may decline and make ourselves miserable with `cibau gweigion ffol' [foolish empty vessels]. Bydded inni `ddewis y rhan dda.' [May we choose the good part]."

The Astronomical Society of Wales should be mentioned now, and here is some of the history of its founding by Mr Mee. "When I first came to Cardiff, I asked one of Cardiff's most eminent astronomers whether it would be possible to found an Astronomical Society there. He feared it would be impossible. A little later, Mr. Norman Lattey came to me to enquire further on the subject, with the result that we called a meeting at the end of 1894, and the Society was formed. The gentleman who feared the society could not be formed became one of its presidents. Later its membership numbered 200. It came to an end with the war."

Here are some of the members; space does not allow me to name many of them.

MR. ARTHUR MEE (1860-).-He was born in Aberdeen, son of Rev. G. S. Mee and Elizabeth, daughter of J. Phillips of Pembrokeshire. He married in 1888 Claudia, daughter of the late D. Thomas of Llanelli. He came to Cardiff in 1892, and there he is today on the staff of the Western Mail and lives in Tremynfa, Llanishen [a part of Cardiff]. I can only summarise his life and work. He is a versatile and many-faceted character - an astronomer, historian, antiquary, and poet; author of Observational Astronomy; Heavens at a Glance; Reminiscences of an Amateur Astronomer; Story of the Telescope. Formerly a F.R.A.S.; now a member of the B.A.A. and Societe Astronomique de France. He used his eight-and-a-half-inch reflector for many years, but he has made a gift of it to Barry, and there it is today in a convenient place on the Buttrills. He now uses his six-inch glass. He has lectured much in his time, and has contributed much to publications such as Knowledge, the B.A.A. and the English Mechanic. He publishes Who's Who in Wales. He is one of the most modest and humble persons to walk the earth. His favourite work is to help others in every way he can, and scores of young astronomers today are indebted to him for his coaching, and sing his praises.

MR. JOHN REES, F.R.A.S., F.R.G.S., Penarth (1862-), was secretary of the Astronomical Society of Wales up to its dissolution. Hailing from Cardiff, he was educated in Prof. Lewis' Grammar School. He uses a four and a quarter inch refractor and has lectured widely on Astronomy and the Pyramids of Egypt, and he fills many roles.

The late MAJOR-GEN. LEE, F.R.A.S., Dinas Powis.-An enthusiastic astronomer and a strong character.

The late MR. T. E. HEATH, Penarth.- A very capable astronomer. (See page 50) [where he is stated to have been a pioneer in using stereoscopes to show relative star positions].

REV. W. E. WINKS.-He was born in Leicester in 1842 and is now (1923) 81 years old. he has been an astronomer throughout his life; he observed the great comet of 1858 and drew pictures of it. He has written extensively for the Press on astronomy and has lectured greatly. He uses a four-inch Cooke Refractor. Mr. Winks is a gentleman, kind, wide-ranging, and a true Christian.

MR. ALBERT TAYLOR, F.R.A.S., Penarth.-An excellent astronomer; he has been at least once abroad on behalf of the Government to observe a total solar eclipse.

MR. NORMAN LATTEY, Bristol.-A very famous astronomer.

MR. DAN JONES, B.SC., F.R.A.S.-An enlightened astronomer. The large Cardiff telescope is in his keeping.

REV. ELLIS GREGORY ROBERTS, M.A.-The Rector of Alberbury; the son of the late Canon Ellis Roberts. A very capable, diligent observer.

MR. HARRY SAMUEL WILLIAMS, M.A., F.R.A.S., Swansea. A very good astronomer.

MR. G. PARRY JENKINS, F.R.A.S.-He was born in Llancynfelin, Cardiganshire, in September 1860. He was a bank manager in Colwyn Bay for some years, where he was a diligent astronomer, observing, writing and lecturing. He moved to Canada in 1902 and settled in Toronto, where he still lectures. As well as being a F.R.A.S., and a member of the British Astronomical Association, he is also a Fellow of the [Royal] Astronomical Society of Canada. He was a member of the Canadian Eclipse Expedition, Labrador, in 1905. He was for some years a Vice-President of the Astronomical Society of Wales, and he is an astronomer of good sorts, and is diligent and industrious on behalf of the science, especially through lecturing.

MR. W. S. WARREN, F.R.A.S., Cardiff.-A hard-working member and Vice-President of the Cardiff Astronomical Society. He recently `invented' a very useful equatorial stand for small telescopes.

MR. J. E. JONES, Tybrith, Llanrhaeadr-ym-Mochnant.-He is a farmer-astronomer, a keen observer, and maintains a great interest in astronomy.

MR. JAMES WILLIAMS, Ystalyfera, and MR. POWELL, Aberdare.-Good astronomers.

A little should now be said about astronomical societies. I have not received details about the Barry Society, but I gather it is flourishing.

Cardiff Astronomical Society.-It was formed in May, 1922. President, Mr. W. Waters, B.A. Vice-Presidents, Messers Dan Jones, B.Sc., F.R.A.S., and Mr. W. S. Warren, F.R.A.S. Secretary, Mr. S. Shurmer, B.A. About 40 members.

Llynfi Valley Astronomical Society, Maesteg.-It was established in December 1921. About 50 members. Meetings are held across the length and breadth of the valley and a 3 1/2[-inch] Cooke Refractor- the property of the Society- is at the service of the members, the largest proportion of them being miners. The present officers are: Rev. W. Edwards, M.A., F.R.A.S., President; Mr. Dan Jones, B.Sc., F.R.A.S.; Mr. A. J. Lloyd; Mr. W. J. Waters, M.B.A.A., and Cadben D. J. Griffiths, Vice-Presidents; and Mr. Ll. C. Lloyd, M.B.A.A., Secretary.

REV. WILLIAM EDWARDS, M.A., F.R.A.S., of Caerau, Bridgend.-He was born in Talybont, Cardiganshire, in 1884, and was educated at Trefecca College, and the University of Wales, Cardiff. He takes a great interest in Astronomy, and has lectured on the subject since 1909 in the Aberdare and Merthyr areas. He is the President of the Llynfi Valley Astronomical Society, Maesteg.

MR. WILLIAM JOHN WATERS.-He was born in Aberkenffig, 1875. A member of the B.A.A. Since a child he has been busy "doing something." He began working at the age of thirteen. Throughout his life he has been an insatiable reader, and by now he has a wide knowledge of Science, Mathematics, and model-engineering. He began on Astronomy aged thirty, and mastered its essentials within a short time, and made a two-and-a-half-inch refractor in 1910, and in 1913 a six-and-a-quarter-inch reflector. Then he came into closer contact with Mr. Mee, and by now much of his work has appeared in the English Mechanic. He has read papers and shown models of the Sun, the Moon and the planets, of his own making, to the Maesteg Astronomical Society. Many visitors have gone to Mr. Waters to look through eyepieces of his own construction. He still observes the Moon and planets, and has tried to discover comets. He is a worthy example of diligence and perseverance amongst people of talent, and at the same time, to crown it all, is one of the most humble of men.

MR. TALIESYN KENWIN JENKINS.-He was born in Blaina, 1879, and now lives in Nantyglo. He started observing young, and as a child made a two-inch telescope. Much of his work has appeared in the English Mechanic, and Knowledge. Through the help of the Rev. W. F. A. Ellison he made a six-and-a-quarter-inch reflector. He has also built a two-manual organ, entirely of his own design, and is also an unrivalled designer in wireless electrics.

MR. CARADOC MILLS, Llanrwst.- He comes from the Mills family of Llanidloes. He was educated in the University in Bangor. He is the author of the excellent astronomical book, Y Bydoedd Uwchben [The Worlds Above]. The soldier Dr. Mills Roberts also hails from the same family.

MR. ALFRED DANIELL, M.A, LL.B., D.SC, F.R.S.E. He was born in Llanelli, 1853. He is a highly educated man in physics.

DR. PERCY BILLUPS, F.R.A.S., Barry Island.-He was born in Deptford in 1859 and was educated in London. Since 1872 he has been active in the field of Astronomy, theoretically and observationally, with the telescope and the spectroscope; he has been highly successful in relation to comets, and discovered the comet of 1910 [this suggests that he was one of many co-discoverers of the Daylight Comet of 1910, which with Comet Halley was one of two very bright comets of that year]. He also found Comet Daniel at the same time as the discoverer. He uses two reflectors, of seven and a half inches and seven and three-quarter inches - one during the day for the Sun and the other at night. He was President of the old Astronomical Society of Wales, and also of the Barry Astronomical Society.

MR. OWEN JOHN OWEN, Minerva Press, Abergavenny.-He was born in Dolgellau, 1867. He stands highly as a choral conductor, a man of literature, an evangelist and as an Astronomer. Much of his work as an observer of comets, the planets and the Moon have appeared in the English Mechanic.

MR. EDWIN VAUGHAN OWEN, brother to the above. He was born in Dolgellau, 1870. A poet, man of literature, an evangelist and an astronomer. He has collaborated with his brother in the field of astronomy, and the two have been diligent and very useful.

MR. ERNEST MADGE of Morriston.-He was born in Tongwynlais, 1876. He takes a great interest in making mirrors for reflecting telescopes, and has made about half a dozen, ranging from four inches to ten and a half inches, and he has a seven-and-three-quarter-inch reflector of his own making. He has also applied telescopes to taking photographs, and has succeeded in obtaining excellent pictures of the Sun and Moon. Some of his pictures of the solar eclipse of 1912, as well as pictures of the Moon and sunspots, have appeared in Y Bydoedd Uwchben [the book by Caradoc Mills].

MR. THOMAS HARRIES, Llanelli.-He was born in Felinfoel in 1871. When he was about fifteen he studied the book by Dr. Chalmers, Darlithiau ar Seryddiaeth a'r Beibl [Lectures on Astronomy and the Bible]; and also the Anianydd Cristnogol [the Christian Physicist], and Cysawd Heulog [The Solar System], Celestial Scenery, and Sidereal Heavens, (Dr. Dick). So great was his respect for this author that he purchased every one of his books. Next he studied the works of Proctor and Sir Robert Ball, and he bought a telescope made by Browning. When he was about 26 years old he undertook to study French and acquainted himself so thoroughly with Flammarion's Les Etoiles that he could recite every page of it. In 1901 he won a distinction in Astronomy (Extension Lectures) when Prof. H. H. Turner was the examiner. He received much direct help from Prof. C. A. Young, from Princeton, the famous author of General Astronomy, and also by the late able mathematician, Mr. C. T. Whitmell, M.A. He has also studied much mathematics, and has solved difficult problems. Mr. Harries has paid particular attention in a practical sense to sunspots, comets, meteors and eclipses, and has contributed articles to scientific papers, and at all times is enthusiastic about spreading knowledge among the working classes.

MR. HUGH PERCIVAL WILKINS of Llanelli.-He was born in Carmarthen, 1896, and was educated in the Grammar School there. He is an engineer by profession. He has loved astronomy since a child, and has been an astronomer since 1908. While serving in the Royal Army Corps in the Great War he made extensive use of the four-and-a-half-inch Cooke Equatorial in York. He was elected a member of the B.A.A. in 1918, through the recommendation of the famous Mr. Denning. He has known Mr. Mee well for several years, and has received much support from him. His specialities in Astronomy are: the Moon and variable stars. With reference to the former he has almost finished one of the most complete maps ever, six feet in diameter. He has studied the winding valley near Herodotus for many years, and his research and that of his co-worker Capt. Bourgon of Arras about this part of the Moon has been published in the B.A.A. Journal. Turning again to variable stars, he has conformed to the B.A.A. strategy and has performed significant work. He is also a successful astrophotographer, and has taken good pictures of eclipses of the Sun and Moon, many of which have been displayed from time to time in Cardiff central library. Mr. Wilkins is still only young, and doubtless much can be expected of him in the future.

MR. WILLIAM JAMES LEWIS, M.A., F.R.S., F.R.A.S., Cambridge.-A fellow of Oriel College, Oxford. He was born in 1847. Son of the late Rev. J. Lewis, Vicar of Bonvilston. He has been twice to see total solar eclipses, to Spain in 1870 and to Ceylon in 1871.

CAPT. T. LUTHER EVANS, F.R.A.S., F.R.G.S., Weston-super-Mare.-He was born in 1852 in Aberaeron. He holds strong views on Astronomy, and here is a summary of them, worth recording I believe: "I disagree with much of Darwin's teaching that the world has come into being through Evolution and not as we read in the Bible. I hold tightly to the Biblical view that this and all the other worlds have been created by the Great Creator. Take, for example, the Solar System. It is foolish and mischievous to believe some silly theories that no on can prove. Although now we no longer believe many of the ideas of our ancestors, not one Physicist has been able to prove the theory that our world was a mass of gases when in its initial state, which gradually cooled over the course of countless millions of years, and that life is in the end based on protoplasm. I can understand their beliefs entirely, but they do not have proof, and will never have proof, and I am totally opposed to beliefs which cannot be proved. My view of Astronomy is that it is shrouded in impenetrable mystery and it always will be. I have read many very interesting books on the subject, but I have seen nothing yet to impress me that there is any reason to believe that this world came into being other than through being created by Almighty God, the Ruler of the Universe; all reasoning to the contrary has been founded on scientific theories, some of them entirely healthy, but they cannot prove that God did not make the world and everything we see by day and night. In the course of my long experience on the sea, travelling to distant lands, I have seen many splendid visions in the middle of the ocean, and I believe that there are mysteries in the heavens that no one can ever interpret."

REV. W. PHILLIPS, M.A., F.R.A.S., Llandudno.-He was born in 1870, in Pentredwr, Llansamlet, and was educated in Arnold's College, Swansea; the Universities of Aberystwyth, Glasgow and Durham; and he graduated from the latter. He is an ardent observer.

REV. DR. TEGFAN DAVIES, D.D., F.R.A.S., Ammanford.-He was born in 1883 near to Peniel, in the parish of Abergwili. He was educated in Carmarthen and Bangor. His mind became inclined towards Astronomy first of all as a result of his grandfather who read the books of Dr. Dick and Dr. Nicholl on the subject and he was the only person in the rural area around Abergwili who took an interest in Astronomy at that time. Ever since then Dr. Tegfan Davies has taken a deep interest in Astronomy, and has visited the large observatories of this country and the continent. He has corresponded much with Mr. Mee, who said about him, "He takes an ardent interest in the heavens in more senses than one." Furthermore: "I must congratulate him on having seen two daylight meteors, a feat which very few astronomers, amateur or professional, can boast of." (See Chapter XX [which describes a daylight meteor observed by Dr. Davies in 1922].) He has lectured much about astronomy and astronomers to young people and children, the whose testimony about him is, "He has taught us to look up." He closes an interesting letter to me in this way: "My knowledge of the science is great; despite that, Astronomy is a leaf from my Bible - part of my religion - and it gives me a consciousness of the Great God! After something disturbs the stillness of my heart during the day, when night comes communion with the stars gives me a quiet peace which fills my heart. After that I spend the night in a placid temperament without a care within me." Very charming, isn't it?

REV. DAVID EVANS, B.A. (1858-1910).-Vicar of Cynwyl Elfed, Carmarthen. He was born in Bwlchygraig, Lledrod, and was educated in the ancient school of Ystradmeurig, and in the Colleges of Aberystwyth and Durham (B.A.). He had the largest telescope in Wales by far - 18 inches - a reflector made by T. Cooke, London, in an observatory on a hill above Cynwyl. The late Vicar was an enlightened astronomer. After his death in 1910 the telescope was sold to Mr. Field, Hazlewood, Dunton Green, Kent.

MR. H. W. EVANS, J.P., F.R.A.S., Harbour House, Solva, Pembrokeshire.-He was born in Solva, 1859, and he was educated there and also in Dr. Propert's School, St. David's. A very versatile man - a builder, ornithologist, tanner, politician, eisteddfod participant, man of literature, conductor, adjudicator, and musician - and remarkably capable in all of them. As an astronomer, even as a child he took a great interest in the realm of the suns and in the moons of Jupiter, and he has studied the works of Dr. Dick, and more recently of Ball, Dunkin, Proctor, Heath, Maunder, etc. He has lectured and written much on the stars, and about the Pyramid of Cheops in Egypt: and he published a reprint of this work which appeared in Y Cymro [The Welshman, a weekly newspaper] (Dolgellau), on 17th, 24th and 31st January, 1923; as well as an article in Y Cymro, 4th October, 1922: "An Excursion to the Expanses"; another astronomical and musical article on The First Anthem and its Composer, on the subject "When the stars of the morning sing together." This is in English, and a reprint can be had from the County Echo, Fishguard, 21st October, 1920. It is interesting to add that this truly versatile man is as fully at home in the English language as he is in the old Welsh.

The following are found on the list of the F.R.A.S.:-

MR. JOHN A. RUPERT-JONES, Commander, R.D., R.N.R., of Tide House, Milford Haven.-He was born in Sandhurst in 1874, and educated in Christ's Hospital in surveying and nautical astronomy. He has studied greatly the laws of the tides of the sea, has published a history of Rosyth, and has assisted the Navy in many ways.

MR. DONALD LUTHER EDWARDS of the Norman Lockyer Observatory, Sidmouth.-He was born in Peterborough, 1884.

MR. JOSEPH EDWARD EVANS, B.A., Beulah, Redhill, Surrey.

MR. LEWIS EVANS, J.P., F.S.A., Sidmouth.

MR. E. LEWIS JONES, B.SC. Troedyrhiw, Merthyr Tydfil.

MR. RHISHARD LLEWELYN JONES, M.A., Glanmerin, Machynlleth.

REV. J. PIERCE PRICE, Bryn Wynno, Porth, Rhondda.

MR. JAMES S. LEWIS, Jesmond Dene, Airdrie, Scotland.

MR. WILLIAM H. REES, B.SC., Pontypridd.

MR. DAVID WILLIAMS, B.SC., Rhodes University, Grahamstown.

MR. J. E. GRIFFITH, Bryn Dinas, Bangor.

On the membership list of the British Astronomical Association (B.A.A.) are found the next three.


MR. JOHN BENNETT PRICE, Dyserth Castle, Flintshire.

MR. THOMAS JOSEPH REES, 2, Hall Street, Ammanford.

MR. J. C. M. MORGAN-JONES, of The Cottage, Llanllechid. He was born in 1895 in The Vicarage, Abererch, where his father, the late Rev. J. Morgan-Jones, was Vicar at the time. He was educated at St. Edmund School, Canterbury, from 1907 to 1914, when he joined the Army as an officer in the 14th Batt. R.W.F. [Royal Welch Fusiliers]. He takes a great interest in astronomy, and has carried out much astronomical work in connection with the R.G.S. [Royal Geographical Society], London. In a letter to me he says: "It is good for me to hear that your book is being written in Welsh, because I believe it will satisfy a need, as is shown by the following little incident. Last summer, as I was making a measurement of the position of some particular star, I was standing in the middle of a field, when a farmer came to me, and after understanding the nature of the work in hand, kindly advised me to go to the other end of the field to be closer to the star and therefore see it much more clearly!"

JOHN ALUN LLOYD, M.B.A.A., of Telpyn Smithy, Rhewl, Ruthin.-Here is his own story, word for word, in response to my request:-

"I feel a little unprepared to lift my pen for the purpose of writing any of the story of my life. I am a rather young lad, twenty-seven years old, and I have not done so much in astronomy yet; I have dreams, not memories.

"I was born in Gwern-y-Mynydd, near Mold, on the second of September, in the year 1895. From there my parents moved to the town of Mold where I followed my father's calling as a blacksmith in the service of the contractor Mr. Thomas Roberts.

"When I was about three years old, I moved to Penycae near Ruabon. My father kept the smithy in Penycae for fourteen years, but I should say that the smithy kept him.

"I was at Penycae elementary school for a term, and then at the Council School, Acrefair, under Mr. William Parry, without doubt the best schoolmaster I ever came to know.

"There was also there a teacher who has had an influence on me to today, namely Mr. Ll. Moss Davies. I shall have a deep respect for the man as long as I live.

"From there I went to Ruabon Grammar School, where I was for a time, and from there I came to work for my father at the smithy.

"In 1912 I moved to Woodseaves in Staffordshire, but although the countryside was beautiful, it was a very remote place - six miles from the nearest station. I was there for a year. Then to Rhewl, near Ruthin, where I follow the same calling.

"What made me an astronomer? That question is often asked of me. I cannot answer the question except by saying that I had some tendency towards Astronomy since childhood. I remember well how I looked at Comet Halley through a binocular fieldglass [in 1910]. This was my first instrument. I marked on an atlas its position among the stars. I read everything I could get a hold of relating to Astronomy. I toiled over them until they were understood. Sometimes I would be in an angry despair through failing to understand them, and with no one around who could explain.

"I saw in the window of a pawn-shop in Wrexham an excellent telescope, opening out to about two feet in length and with an object-glass an inch and a half in diameter. What was its price ? A sovereign, said the shopkeeper. But I did not have a sovereign on me at the time, remember that I was just a boy. I then returned home, and through careful searching came across some shillings and had the remainder from my father to complete the sovereign. That night I returned to Wrexham and bought the instrument.

"It was a good little telescope, and I kept it for years. I have the note books somewhere, I believe, where I wrote down my observations in pen and ink.

"I saw many pretty double stars through the little telescope. With it I saw my first ever glimpse of the belts of Jupiter and the rings of Saturn. With it I had my first quick look at the glory of the Great Nebula in Orion. And with it I saw the volcanoes [sic.] on the Moon, and this encouraged me to make the Moon my main field of study.

"Soon, I got one of Mr. Burnerd's cardboard telescopes, and no young astronomer could desire anything more. This was without doubt the most perfect little telescope if ever there was one. It had no defect at all. It showed the stars as little objects, small, clean, with perfect diffraction rings. I regretted a hundred times, yes a thousand times, selling it. Two inches was the diameter of the lens. But I did sell it, and bought a three-inch telescope made by Broadhurst Clarkson. It is again an excellent instrument, but I sometimes have fond memories of the little two-inch Burnerd. I have such dear memories of it. I still have the three-inch telescope, and will have it for ever as far as I know.

"But by now, through hard work and diligence and also some economy, I have succeeded in obtaining an instrument which will be a means of doing work of some standard, I anticipate, as long as I have the years and health to use it. It is a reflector, twelve and a half inches in diameter, with unsurpassed mirrors which have been tested and found to be perfect by the Rev. W. F. A. Ellison.

"Well, as I have said, I have had dreams up to now. I study the Moon carefully with the large telescope every night when I have the opportunity. I have not published very much of value yet. But I can say that my sympathy is with Mr. Nasmyth concerning the existence of the small craterlets on the floor of the crater [literally, mountain] Plato. I know that experienced astronomers deny their existence, by asserting that Nasmyth is wrong. But I can say without hesitation that they are there. I can see them easily.

"On looking at Schroeter's Valley, my honest opinion is that the valley does not break into the crater [literally, mountain] Herodotus. In this I differ with Nasmyth.

"I also pay attention to planets which are as distant as possible, especially to Jupiter and Saturn. I have not had much luck with Mars yet. I hope to have more luck in 1924, when Mars will be higher than it was in 1922.

"I use the three-inch telescope to look at sunspots at every opportunity. You can see one of my sketches in the English Mechanic for August 25th, 1922. A picture of my large telescope and its building also appeared there a while ago.

J. Alun Lloyd."

There we are, children of Wales, an example worthy of immitation. I hope it will be an encouragement to you you and all to strive to achieve knowledge and to conquer all hindrance.

Doubtless there are many others throughout Wales, if I could find them, who would deserve a prominent place in this book. However, I ought to mention the following:- Rev. John Griffith, the Vicar of Llangwm, Abergavenny, who was born in 1860 in Brynchwith, Ponterwyd, near Aberystwyth, who has spent years researching into the principles on which the cromlechs were built according to astronomical designs, under the guidance of the late Sir Norman Lockyer, and he published the lecture of that famous astronomer on the `Henafiaeth yr Orsedd' [Antiquity of the Gorsedd].

Two others who have a great enthusiasm for science are Chancellor G. C. Joyce, D.D., former Principal of St. David's College [Dr. Gilbert Joyce, later Bishop of Monmouth and Pro-Chancellor of the University of Wales, 1934-1941], and Canon M. Jones Powell, D.D., Vicar of Cardiff. Mention should also be made of Prof. G. H. Bryan, F.R.S., D.SC., Professor of Mathematics at the University College in Bangor: he was co-author of the excellent astronomical book `Barlow and Bryan's Astronomy'; a very educated man - `a fine man,' according to the description I received of him. Certainly I could also apply the same words to Prof. Gwilym Owen, M.A., B.SC., Professor of Physics in the University College, Aberystwyth, a scientist and a Welshman of the right sort, and author of that excellent book `Cwrr y Llen.'

This translation was made by Rhys Morris, February 1995.
The original computer readable version was prepared by Dr. Gabrielle Allen.
Some additional translation and typing was by Bryn Jones.

University of Wales, Cardiff, June 1995.

If you use any of this translation, please acknowledge Rhys Morris as the author.

This page was created and is maintained by Bryn Jones.   E-mail: .
WWW home page: .
This page was first created in January 2000   (at a different address).
It was last modified on 27th August, 2008.
URL of this page: .
This page replaced in August 2008 the old page .   An archived copy of the old page is available here.