- 1323-1947 (mainly -1940) (Creation)
Level of description
Extent and medium
70 boxes (0.954 cubic metres)
Name of creator
John Humphreys Davies (1871-1926) of Cwrt Mawr, Llangeitho, county Cardiganshire, was a distinguished academic, author and bibliographer who became Registrar of the University College of Wales, Aberystwyth, in 1905 and thereafter served as its Principal from 1919 until his death.
He was born at Llangeitho on 15 April 1871, the third son of Robert Joseph Davies, and was educated at the local village school, Lewis School, Pengam and University College School, London. Thereafter he studied at the University College of Wales, Aberystwyth, and Lincoln College, Oxford, where he graduated BA in 1893. He was then called to the Bar at Lincoln's Inn.
At a very early age he entered the public life of Wales and his native county, becoming JP for Cardiganshire and treasurer of the General Assembly of the Calvinistic Methodist connexion. His interest in Welsh history, antiquities and literature was heightened by his close association while at Oxford with figures like O. M. Edwards and Thomas Edward Ellis, who married Davies's sister Annie.
Following his appointment as Registrar at Aberystwyth, Davies was well placed to collaborate with Sir John Williams in securing the town as the location of the National Library of Wales. The institution was to become the home of the magnificent Cwrt Mawr collection of books and manuscripts. He also became a member of the highly contentious Welsh Church Commission in 1908, was chosen high sheriff of Cardiganshire in 1911 and chairman of the Cardiganshire County Council in 1917.
J. H. Davies was extremely prominent in Welsh public life throughout the first quarter of the twentieth century. He was one of the founders of the Welsh Calvinistic Methodist Society and contributed regularly to its Journal, and he served as the editor of the Journal of the Welsh Bibliographical Society from 1910 until 1920. In 1916 he was appointed editor of Cylchgrawn Cymdeithas Hanes y Methodistiaid Calfinaidd. As Principal of the university college, he made a major contribution towards strengthening the bonds between his college and the federal University of Wales and also between the college and the Welsh nation.
He devoted much of his leisure time to the collection of Welsh books and manuscripts, and soon became a highly regarded authority in these fields. Among Davies's many important publications are The Letters of Lewis, Richard, William and John Morris of Anglesey (1907-1909), Gweithiau Morgan Llwyd, Vol. II (1908), A Bibliography of Welsh Ballads (1909-1911), and Letters of Goronwy Owen (1924). He also published a large number of articles in an array of periodicals and journals.
J. H. Davies died at Cwm Cynfelin, Aberystwyth, on 10 August 1926, and was buried at Llangeitho.
The papers were assembled by J. H. Davies during the course of his professional life and career. Some of the documents came into his possession during the course of his historical and antiquarian researches and writings and as a collector of antiquarian books, manuscripts and documents. Others may have been retained at the family home at Cwrt Mawr, Llangeitho. A few were kept by the family after J. H. Davies's death.
Immediate source of acquisition or transfer
Most of the papers were donated to the Library in 1926 and 1927, shortly after Principal Davies's death, by members of his family. A few small groups were added later by his nephew and biographer Dr T. I. Ellis.
Content and structure area
Scope and content
General correspondence, 1890-1926, of J. H. Davies; correspondence and papers, 1793-1940, relating to members of the Davies family of Cwrt Mawr, Llangeitho; papers, 1872-1926, relating to J. H. Davies's professional activities and interests, including a substantial group of records, 1900-1910, deriving from the activities of the Welsh Hospital in South Africa; correspondence and papers, 1896-1926, accumulated by J. H. Davies on various subjects and issues in which he was involved; papers, notes, transcripts of documents, drafts of articles and books etc., [?1890]-[?1926], accumulated by J. H. Davies during the course of his academic and antiquarian researches; stray deeds and documents, and correspondence files, 1323-1924, accumulated by J. H. Davies, together with miscellaneous deeds and documents, and other stray items, 1830-[c. 1920], mainly of Aberystwyth interest; papers and correspondence, 1658-1907, relating to other individuals acquired by J. H. Davies, namely Gwilym Cowlyd, 1658-1907, William Davies, 1822-1855, John Rees, 1844-1867, the Richards family of Darowen, [?1818]-[?1848], and the Rev. William Thomas, 1869-1877; and miscellaneous materials, 1753-1947, accumulated by J. H. Davies or by his family following his death.
Appraisal, destruction and scheduling
All the papers presented to the Library have been retained..
Additional papers are very unlikely.
System of arrangement
The papers have been arranged in the following eight groups: correspondence files; family papers; papers deriving from J. H. Davies's professional interests and activities; subject files; academic and research papers; acquired papers; papers relating to other individuals; and stray materials.
Conditions of access and use area
Conditions governing access
Readers consulting modern papers in the National Library of Wales are required to abide by the conditions noted on the 'Modern papers - data protection' form issued with their readers' tickets.
Conditions governing reproduction
Usual copyright laws apply.
Language of material
Script of material
Language and script notes
English, Welsh, Latin.
Physical characteristics and technical requirements
Allied materials area
Existence and location of originals
Existence and location of copies
Related units of description
Title based on contents of fonds.
The archive includes much early material collected by J. H. Davies as an antiquary. Documents post dating Davies's death presumably remained in the family home at Cwrt Mawr, Llangeitho. Some may have been collected together by Dr T. I. Ellis while he was researching and writing his biography of his uncle.
Virtua system control number
GEAC system control number
Subject access points
Place access points
Name access points
Genre access points
Description control area
Rules and/or conventions used
Description follows NLW guidelines based on ISAD(G) 2nd ed.; AACR2; and LCSH
Level of detail
Dates of creation revision deletion
The following sources were used in the compilation of this description: T. I. Ellis, John Humphreys Davies (1871-1926) (Liverpool, 1963); Dictionary of Welsh Biography down to 1940 (London, 1959)
Compiled by J. Graham Jones.