Fonds GB 0210 MSJTHOMAS - John Thomas (Pencerdd Gwalia) Manuscripts,

Identity area

Reference code



John Thomas (Pencerdd Gwalia) Manuscripts,


  • 1830-1930 / (Creation)

Level of description


Extent and medium

53 volumes.

Context area

Name of creator

Biographical history

John Thomas (Pencerdd Gwalia, 1826-1913), harpist, was born on St David's Day 1826 in Bridgend, Glamorgan. At the age of twelve, he won the prize of a new triple-strung harp at the 1838 Abergavenny National Eisteddfod. From 1840 to 1846, sponsored by Ada, Lady Lovelace, Thomas studied at the Royal College of Music. During the 1850s he gave concerts throughout Europe. From 1850 to 1910 he published over two hundred works, including editions of harp works by Handel, Spohr and Mozart, and four volumes of his own Welsh Melodies for harp and voice (1857, 1862, 1870, 1874). From 1862 Thomas promoted some forty annual concerts of Welsh music, which included large choral sounds and multiple harps. At the National Eisteddfod of Aberdare in 1861 he was invested with the title 'Pencerdd Gwalia'. In 1871 Thomas succeeded to the post of professor at the Royal Academy of Music and the following year was appointed harpist-in-ordinary (and, in 1885, musician-in-ordinary) to the queen; following Victoria's death in 1901 he continued as harpist to Edward VII. Thomas married Alice Ann Keate (1855-1880) in 1878; he married his second wife, Joan Frances Denny (1849-1926) in 1885; both were his former pupils. He gave his last concert on 17 June 1905 and died 19 March 1913.

Archival history

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

NLW MSS 19118-19146; Lt-Gen. Sir G. Ivor Thomas; Bushey Heath; Donation; 1950
NLW MS 19147E; Mr Philip Fitzhugh Stryker; Washington, DC; Purchase; October 1965
NLW MS 21822D; Phillips; London; Purchased at auction, lot 546; 10 June 1982; B1982/15.
NLW MSS 23389-23409; British Library; London; Donation (previous provenance unknown); March 1995; A1995/38.
NLW MS 23795A; Mrs Mary Grindley; Mottingham, London; Donation; 1999

Content and structure area

Scope and content

Papers, 1830-1930, of or relating to John Thomas (Pencerdd Gwalia), including original musical manuscripts, mainly compositions and arrangements for the harp, 1853-1905; correspondence mainly relating to his concerts, compositions and travels, and to musical circles in London and Wales, 1842-1930; journals of European concert tours, 1851-1883; concert programmes, 1851-1905; papers of his wife, Joan Frances Thomas, 1878-1926, including tour journals, 1878-1883; and passports, 1873, 1885.

Appraisal, destruction and scheduling


System of arrangement

Arranged according to NLW MSS reference numbers: NLW MSS 19118-19147, 21822D, 23389-23409, 23795A.

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 set out in information provided when applying for their Readers' Tickets, whereby the reader shall become responsible for compliance with the Data Protection Act 1998 in relation to any processing by them of personal data obtained from modern records held at the Library.

Conditions governing reproduction

Usual copyright laws apply.

Language of material

  • English
  • French
  • German
  • Italian
  • Russian
  • Welsh

Script of material

Language and script notes

English, Welsh, French, German, Italian, Russian.

Physical characteristics and technical requirements

Finding aids

The contents of NLW MSS 23389-23409 are indexed in greater detail in Handlist of Manuscripts in the National Library of Wales, vol. 9 (Aberystwyth, 2003).

Allied materials area

Existence and location of originals

Existence and location of copies

Related units of description

See also NLW MSS 19764-71E which contain autograph and holograph manuscripts of John Thomas. Newspaper cuttings and other items donated with NLW MSS 23389-23409 are NLW ex 1678; photographs and an album of pencil drawings and water-colours by Joan Thomas are now NLW Photo Album 2115 and NLW Drawing Volume 485 (8vo) respectively.

Related descriptions

Notes area


Title based on contents.

Alternative identifier(s)

Virtua 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

Description follows NLW guidelines based on ISAD(G) 2nd ed.; AACR2; and LCSH


Level of detail

Dates of creation revision deletion

April 2009 and June 2012.


  • English



The following sources were used in the compilation of this description: Handlist of Manuscripts in the National Library of Wales, Volume 8 (Aberystwyth, 1999); Handlist of Manuscripts in the National Library of Wales, Volume 9 (Aberystwyth, 2003); Y Bywgraffiadur Cymreig hyd at 1940 (London, 1953); Oxford Dictionary of National Biography WWW site, viewed 21 April 2009.

Archivist's note

Description compiled by Bethan Ifans for the retrospective conversion project of NLW MSS and revised by Rhys Morgan Jones.

Accession area