File TAB4 - Correspondence re. Welsh Ordnance Survey maps

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Correspondence re. Welsh Ordnance Survey maps


  • 1892 (Creation)

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1 envelope.

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John Gwenogvryn Evans (1852-1930), palaeographer, was born at Ffynnon-felfed, Llanybydder, Carmarthenshire, but his family soon moved to Llanwenog, Cardiganshire, in honour of which parish he later coined his second name. At the age of 16, Evans was apprenticed to his uncle, a grocer in Lampeter, but at 18, following an accident, he went back to school, and entered the Presbyterian College at Carmarthen in 1872. He was ordained as a Unitarian minister 1876, and served as pastor at Carmarthen and Preston, Lancashire, but was forced to give up the ministry in 1880 when he lost his voice, a legacy of childhood typhoid attacks which affected his health for the rest of his life. In 1877, he married Edith Hunter, the Secretary of the Carmarthen Branch of the RSPCA; she died in 1923. Her father, the Rev. Stephenson Hunter, was Principal of the Presbyterian College, Carmarthen. Moving to Oxford in 1880, Evans attended lectures on the Mabinogi by the Celtic scholar Sir John Rhys (1840-1915), and was inspired to study and transcribe the Red Book of Hergest. From this came the idea of a series of diplomatic editions of mediaeval Welsh texts, the first volume of which appeared 1887. Such was the success of this project that he was awarded a Civil List pension of £200 in 1893, and in 1894 he was appointed inspector of Welsh manuscripts for the Historical Manuscripts Commission, producing reports which have been indispensable ever since. He took a leading part in the negotiations which enabled Sir John Williams (1840-1926) to purchase the Peniarth manuscripts, thereby contributing substantially to the establishment of the National Library of Wales. Evans became a member of the Library's Court and Council as a nominee of the Privy Council, and also served as a justice of the Peace in Cardiganshire and as a member of the Court and Council of the University College of Wales. He retired to Llanbedrog, Caernarfonshire, where he continued printing old Welsh texts on a small hand-press. In his later years, he was more interested in interpreting texts than reproducing them, but his theories concerning the 'Aneirin' and 'Taliesin' poems met with little acceptance amongst scholars.

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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.

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Eleven letters, May 1892, to T. E. Ellis, MP, concerning the accuracy of Welsh place names on Ordnance Survey maps and the submission of evidence to the Departmental Committee on the Ordnance Survey. The correspondents include J. Gwenogfryn Evans, D. Silvan Evans, John Edward Lloyd (2), Egerton Phillimore and G. J. Williams.

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  • English

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