Fonds GB 0210 BEDFORD - John Bedford Papers,

Identity area

Reference code



John Bedford Papers,


  • 1762-1791 (Creation)

Level of description


Extent and medium

1 box (0.029 cubic metres)

Context area

Name of creator

Biographical history

John Bedford the ironmaster was born c. 1725 in Birmingham, to John Bedford, a cutler, and his wife Sarah. Initially, he worked for a time as a japanner in Birmingham. He purchased an estate at Moseley in 1754, using the property as financial security to instigate a number of future ventures. In the 1760s, Bedford moved from Birmingham to Trostrey, Monmouthshire, where he worked as a manager at an iron forge on the banks of the River Usk. He subsequently secured the lease of the Rogerstone estate where he established his own forge. In 1770 he purchased land at Cefn Cribwr near Bridgend, Glamorgan, with a view to establishing an iron-works there, complete with blast furnace, forge, mines and collieries. The venture, however, was never a commercial success. Bedford retired to Birmingham in 1791 to live with his brother Thomas, where he died in the same year. The iron works at Cefn Cribwr stand in ruins today.

Name of creator

Biographical history

Edward Williams (Iolo Morganwg, 1747-1826), stonemason, poet and literary forger, was born 10 March 1747 in Llancarfan, Glamorgan, to Edward Williams (1715-1795), stonemason, and Ann Matthews (1713-1770), and lived for most of his life in Flemingston (or Flimston), Glamorgan, apart from periods spent in London, Kent and elsewhere. His only schooling came from his mother and from the numerous poets who taught him their craft. He worked as a monumental mason and builder. He also tried his hand at various other trades but with little success; he was imprisoned for debt in Cardiff Gaol in 1786. In 1781 Iolo married Margaret Roberts (1749-1827). They had four children, of which two, Margaret (b. 1782) and Taliesin (1787-1847), survived into adulthood. Iolo Morganwg died at Flemingston on 18 December 1826. Iolo had various literary, antiquarian and political interests. He wrote poetry in both Welsh and English, his Poems Lyrical and Pastoral appearing in 1794. He became a Unitarian from about 1797 and wrote many hymns, published in Salmau yr Eglwys yn yr Anialwch (1812, 1827 and 1834). Following the French Revolution he had radical sympathies. However he has become notorious for his forgeries and fabrications. The edition of Dafydd ap Gwilym published in 1789 contained an appendix of additional poems which were in fact written by Iolo. The Myvyrian Archaiology (1801, 1807), of which he was an editor contained many of his fabrications. These forgeries went largely undiscovered until the early twentieth century. His interest in the ancient druids led to his unveiling of the Gorsedd of Bards of Great Britain, which first met on Primrose Hill, London, in 1792. He claimed it to be a miraculous survival from ancient times and it persists as an integral part of the ritual and pageantry of the National Eisteddfod. However it too was invented by Iolo. Following Iolo's death his son Taliesin, a schoolmaster in Merthyr Tydfil, edited his manuscripts and upheld his legacy, apparently completely oblivious to the forgeries.

Archival history

John Bedford bequeathed his writings, which he greatly valued, to his only son John by his will of 1791. The papers eventually passed from John Bedford the younger to his friend Edward Williams ('Iolo Morganwg' (1746-1826)) following his death in 1814. Iolo Morganwg appears to have re-used some fragments of Bedford's papers for notes, sketches and music writing. The papers remained in the hands of Iolo Morganwg's descendants until they were donated to the National Library of Wales.

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

Iolo Aneurin Williams, Iolo Morganwg's great-great-grandson; Donation; 1953/1954

Content and structure area

Scope and content

Papers of John Bedford, 1762-1791, largely relating to his time in South Wales, and deal with iron-making techniques, his interests in experimenting with and improving these techniques, and the state of his own business ventures in forging and quarrying. The papers include notes on iron-making techniques, 1763-1788; management and business papers, 1766-1791; correspondence, petitions and miscellaneous notes, 1766-1789; and quarry notes, 1762-1789.

Appraisal, destruction and scheduling

All papers donated to the National Library of Wales have been retained.


Accruals are not expected.

System of arrangement

Originally arranged and listed chronologically soon after deposit at NLW, the archive is now arranged according to subject matter into four groups: notes on iron-making techniques; management and business papers; correspondence, petitions and miscellaneous notes; and quarry notes. The notes are in a fragmentary state, as is the archive as a whole, often with only one page of a booklet surviving. Bedford frequently refers the reader to other 'books' of certain dates and it is clear that these have not survived. As pages are not consistently numbered it proved difficult to re-unite fragments, although this has sometimes been possible.

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

  • English
  • Welsh

Script of material

Language and script notes

English, apart from scraps of paper that contain Iolo Morganwg autograph material which are in Welsh and include manuscript music.

Physical characteristics and technical requirements

Some of the papers are in a fragile condition. See file level descriptions.

Finding aids

The original typescript list, arranged chronologically, is now redundant.

Allied materials area

Existence and location of originals

Existence and location of copies


Related units of description

Letters from John Bedford, together with other papers written by him, are held at the Royal Society of Arts, London.

Related descriptions

Publication note

Philip Riden has extensively used the archive in his book John Bedford and the Ironworks at Cefn Cribwr (Cardiff, 1992).

Notes area


Title supplied from content of fonds.

Alternative identifier(s)

Virtua system control number


GEAC system control number


Access points

Place access points

Genre access points

Description control area

Description identifier

Institution identifier

Llyfrgell Genedlaethol Cymru = The National Library of Wales

Rules and/or conventions used

This description follows NLW guidelines based on ISAD(G) Second Edition; AACR2; and LCSH


Level of detail

Dates of creation revision deletion

Completed July 2009.


  • English



The following source was used in the compilation of this description: Riden, Philip, John Bedford and the Ironworks at Cefn Cribwr (Cardiff, 1992).

Archivist's note

Description compiled by Talei Rounds, University of Wales Aberystwyth, Archive Administration Course 2002-2003, and revised by Rhian Lyn James.

Accession area