The Earliest Magazines

The periodical press in Wales was slow in developing. In 1735 the first Welsh periodical, Tlysau yr hen oesoedd [Gems of past ages], appeared from the press of Lewis Morris in Holyhead, Anglesey.

The first Welsh magazines

The editor of Tlysau yr hen oesoedd realised that Welsh culture was weakening as the gentry became anglicised and abandoned the bardic tradition. The Tlysau therefore was an attempt to provide entertaining literature, and to arouse the interest of the Welsh people in their language. But the venture failed, and as far as is known only 1 issue appeared.

The next attempt to establish a Welsh periodical was not until 1770, with the appearance of Trysorfa gwybodaeth, neu eurgrawn Cymraeg [The Treasury of knowledge, or Welsh magazine]. 15 fortnightly issues were published, under the editorship of Josiah Rees, a Unitarian minister in the Swansea Valley. Their contents reflect the editor's interests in Welsh history and literature. It is also relevant to note that one of his sons, Owen Rees, became a friend of Walter Scott and Robert Southey, and was a partner in the Longman publishing company.

Controversial magazines

During the last decade of the 18th century 3 periodicals were published, which were notable for their controversial content. The burning issues of the day would feature prominently on their pages. In 1793 Y Cylchgrawn Cynmraeg [The Welsh magazine] appeared, edited by Morgan John Rhys, a Baptist minister. This was the first Welsh language periodical to deal with political matters such as:

  • peace
  • the slave trade
  • the abolition of the class system
  • the squandering of money on arms and warfare

The magazine was printed at Trefeca, Machynlleth and Carmarthen. This constant movement was probably due to the printers' fear of persecution because of the political ideas expressed in the publication. Finally the editor emigrated to America where he established a short-lived newspaper entitled The Western sky in Philadelphia in 1798.

Both The Miscellaneous repository, neu y drosorfa gymmysgedig (1795), and Y Geirgrawn [The magazine] (1796) were of the same nature. The former magazine was edited by Thomas Evans ('Tomos Glyn Cothi'), a Unitarian minister, and the latter by David Davies of Holywell. The principles of the French Revolution permeate both publications, but they were short-lived, chiefly because their editors feared harassment by the authorities.