A new period began in the history of the Welsh periodical press when Trysorfa ysprydol [The Spiritual treasury] was published in 1799, edited by Thomas Charles of Bala and Thomas Jones of Denbigh.
Trysorfa was a product of the 18th century religious revival, and was in fact the first religious and denominational magazine to be published in Welsh.
Itinerant preachers, Sunday school teachers and pupils required reading material and Trysorfa ysprydolwas a means of supplying them with knowledge. But all these Welsh periodicals dating from the end of the 18th century and the first decade of the 19th were comparatively short-lived. Difficulties of distribution and sale, together with the prohibitive price of paper, made publication a considerable risk for editor and publisher alike.
Yr Eurgrawn Wesleyaidd
Yr Eurgrawn Wesleyaidd [The Wesleyan magazine], established in 1809, was therefore hardly expected to succeed. Surprisingly however, it appeared monthly from 1809 to 1962, when it became a quarterly, and continued to be published as such from 1962 to 1983.
The other religious denominations soon realised the need for periodicals and journals to spread their message. Seren Gomer [The Star of Gomer] was established as a weekly newspaper on 1 January 1814, and appeared until August 1815, when it ended through lack of support. Four years later however in 1818 it was revived again as Seren Gomer a fortnightly magazine, and became known as a Baptist publication, though it had no official connection with the denomination until 1880.
Goleuad Cymru, Y Drysorfaand Y Dysgedydd
Goleuad Cymru [The Light of Wales], established in 1818, and Y Drysorfa[The Treasury], which first appeared in 1831, served the Calvinistic Methodists. A year later in 1832 the first issue of Y Dysgedydd [The Instructor] was published, supported by the Independents.
It was in 1847 that the Unitarians established Yr Ymofynydd [The Inquirer] as a monthly periodical. Although its publication during the 20th century was irregular, it is the only denominational magazine established before 1850, which is still published today.
Yr Haul and Y Diwygiwr
David Owen ('Brutus'), a failed minister with both Baptists and Independents, turned to the Welsh press for his living. He edited 2 Nonconformist periodicals before joining the Established Church, and was presently appointed editor of Yr Haul [The Sun], a denominational and church periodical established in 1835.
Y Diwygiwr [The Reformer], was also founded in 1835, as a monthly serving the Independents of south Wales. Its editor-in-chief was David Rees, an Independent minister of Llanelli. The 2 periodicals represented opposite political and religious standpoints. David Owen stood for Toryism and the Established Church in Yr Haul, while David Rees, who adopted the motto of the Irishman, Daniel O'Connell, 'Agitate! Agitate! Agitate!' - stood equally firmly for Radicalism and Nonconformity. Both were able editors, who constantly sparred with each other in their publications.
Y Gwyliedydd [The Sentinel] was a notable periodical published by a group of learned clerics between 1822 and 1837. It was sponsored by the Established Church and set different standards from other contemporary publications, since it contained articles on Welsh literature and antiquities.
Y Gwladgarwr [The Patriot], a similar magazine, appeared between 1833 and 1841, edited by Evan Evans (Ieuan Glan Geirionydd). In 1830 Evans wrote to the Welsh bishops seeking their support in publishing a periodical based on The Saturdaymagazine with the intention of bringing general information to the Welsh people. As a result of his appeal, 102 issues of Y Gwladgarwr were published. It was a magazine of wide interest containing serious articles on astronomy, agriculture, geography and the theory of music.
It was the religious denominations that also supported the periodicals of the temperance movement, which grew to its full strength in Wales during the 1830s and 1840s of the 19th century. The movement was established in America but its influence spread across the Atlantic and many Welsh temperance societies were formed in the early 1830s.
Soon there was a demand for temperance literature and several periodicals were established to serve the movement, for example:
- Y Dirwestydd[The Abstainer], (1836)
- Y Seren ddirwestol[The Temperance star], (1837)
- Y Dirwestwr deheuol[The Southern abstainer] (1838)
There was some opposition to the new movement and in 1838 William Williams ('Caledfryn') established a periodical entitled Yr Adolygydd [The Reviewer], defending moderation and opposing teetotalism.
Welsh Mormon magazines
America was also the birthplace of the Mormon movement. It was introduced to parts of Wales in the mid 19th century, and many Welshmen played a prominent part in its growth and development.
Dan Jones, a native of Wrexham, was captain of the paddle steamer ‘The Maid of Iowa’, ferrying passengers between New Orleans and St. Louis on the Mississippi river. On one of his journeys he met the brothers Joseph and Hyrum Smith, founders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Dan Jones soon joined the Mormons and visited Wales periodically as their missionary. He published a wealth of literature in Welsh to make known their beliefs, including 2 periodicals, Prophwyd y jubili [The Prophet of the jubilee], (1846-8) and Udgorn Seion.