File NLW MS 141C - Egerton Grenville Bagot Phillimore: Achau Cymreig

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Egerton Grenville Bagot Phillimore: Achau Cymreig


  • 1886-1891 (Creation)

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138 pp. ; 242 x 185 mm.

Half bound vellum.

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Biographical history

Egerton Grenville Bagot Phillimore, an antiquarian who specialised in Welsh and Celtic history, languages and literature, was born in 1856, the only son of John George Phillimore, Q.C., and Rosalind Knight Bruce. The family moved to Shiplake House near Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire, in 1859, but for financial reasons they were unable to remain there after J. G. Phillimore's death in 1865. When Egerton's mother died in 1871, he was taken under the guardianship of his uncle, the lawyer Sir Robert Joseph Phillimore, and he finally sold Shiplake to his cousin Walter, later Lord Phillimore, shortly after his uncle's death in 1885.
Egerton Phillimore inherited from his parents a strong resistance to conformity, as a result of which family relations were sometimes strained. He married and was widowed twice: firstly in 1880 to Susan Elise Roscow, by whom he had a son and three daughters; and then, after Elise died in 1893, to Marion Owen in 1897, a marriage which he kept secret even from his own children. He encountered considerable financial problems throughout his life, especially after Marion died in 1904.
Phillimore was educated at Westminster Boys' School and Christ Church, Oxford, where he graduated B.A. in 1879 and M.A. in 1883. While at Oxford, he developed a profound interest in antiquarianism, particularly in Wales. He became familiar with a number of prominent Celtic scholars, including Sir John Rhys and Whitley Stokes, and began to learn Welsh in 1880. He taught for some time at Oxford, and became an avid collector of manuscripts and rare books, travelling widely in Wales and eventually settling in Corris, Merionethshire, around 1903, where he lived until his death in 1937.
Even though he only published a single work under his own name, Egerton Phillimore contributed extensively to contemporary literary and historical publications. From 1886, he published scholarly articles on early Welsh history, literature, topography, genealogy and place-names in journals including Bye Gones, Archaeologia Cambrensis and Y Cymmrodor, the latter of which he edited between 1889 and 1891, his most significant article being 'The publications of Welsh historical records' (Cymmrodor xi [1877]). He also provided detailed footnotes on Welsh place-names and traditions for Henry Owen's edition of George Owen's Description of Pembrokeshire (4 vols, 1892-1936).
Egerton Phillimore was never fully respected by his scholarly contemporaries, probably because of his eccentric nature. He was disorganised; his handwriting was often barely legible; he was perennially in financial crisis; he married against the better judgement of his family; and he acquired a reputation for having an interest in erotic and ribald texts, largely because of his article 'Welsh aedoeology', which was published in the journal Kryptadia in 1884. It was in fact a scholarly work on Welsh etymology, but the misrepresentation stuck because it contained a degree of truth about Phillimore's puerile interest in genitalia, sex and toilet humour.

Archival history

Cardiff MS 59 was formerly known as Tonn MS 19 (while Phillimore was copying Cardiff MS 59, 1886-1891, it was in the possession of Mr T. Aneurin Rees of Tonn); formerly in the collection of Egerton Grenville Bagot Phillimore

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A volume containing a copy of Cardiff MS 59 made by Egerton Grenville Bagot Phillimore (1856-1937), antiquary, at various dates between 1886 and 1891. The copy ends on p. 75 of the original manuscript and the rest of the original manuscript was copied into another volume, now NLW MS 142B. Though the original manuscript is usually attributed to Thomas Jones (Twm Sion Cati) he was in fact dead in 1611, when the manuscript was written; proof of this is to be seen in an Exchequer Deposition 8 Jas I, Easter 13, where Jones's widow is described as 'Dame Johan Devereux nowe wife of Sir George Devereux, knt., late wife of Thomas Jones, gent.', the date of this entry being April 12 1610. Voluminous notes by Phillimore have been added to the copied manuscript. With NLW MS 142B.

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  • Welsh

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See also NLW MS 142B


Creator ref. no.: Williams MS 346


Preferred citation: NLW MS 141C

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  • Text: NLW MS 141C.