Wmffre Dafis' Book of Cywyddau

Reference: Brogyntyn MS I.2

Brogyntyn I.2 is a volume of Welsh cywyddau and awdlau from the 15th and 16th centuries, written by Wmffre Dafis in 1599. Siôn Philip, Iolo Goch, Dafydd ap Gwilym and Guto'r Glyn are among the poets whose works are represented. Also included are a series of englynion which were added early in the 17th century.

Wmffre Dafis (d. 1635) and Theodore Price (1570?-1631)

Wmffre Dafis was born near Harlech, the son of Dafydd ap Gruffudd. It is said that he was a descendant of the Fifteen Tribes of Gwynedd. He was vicar of Darowen, Montgomeryshire, from 1577 until his death in 1635. During his life he copied several Welsh manuscripts, including  Bodewryd 1, BL Addl. 14933, Llanstephan 35 and 118, NLW 3056D (Mostyn 160), and Gwyneddon 1 in Bangor University Library. Wmffre Dafis was an extremely learned man who mastered several languages, but his greatest interest was the Welsh language and its literature, translating a number of books into Welsh. He was held in high regard by poets of the time, and cywyddau were composed in his honour by Richard, Siôn and Gruffudd of the Philip family of Ardudwy, and also by Ieuan Tew Brydydd of Arwystl, and Evan Lloyd of Waun Einion.

This manuscript was copied by Wmffre Dafis in 1599 for Dr. Theodore Price (1570?-1631), a nephew of his wife, Sioned daughter of Edward Stanley. Price was born at Bronyfoel in the parish of Llanenddwyn, Merionethshire, and educated at All Souls College, Oxford. He later became a fellow of Jesus College and principal of Hart Hall, Oxford between 1604 and 1614 when he received a doctorate in Divinity from New College.

At the time of receiving this volume of poetry in 1599, Theodore Price was a priest at Bletchingley, Surrey, and canon at Winchester Cathedral. Like many exiled Welshmen of his generation, he appreciated the gift of a volume of Welsh poetry.

Price died in December 1631, but it is not known how the volume found its way to Plas Brogyntyn, near Oswestry. The volume was presented to The National Library of Wales (NLW), Aberystwyth, in 1934, when it was deposited by the 3rd Lord Harlech, together with a selection of Welsh manuscripts from his library at Brogyntyn. In March 1993 the manuscript was purchased by NLW from the 6th Lord Harlech.

The manuscript

This manuscript contains 574 pages (i-v, 569ff), and was rebound early in the 19th century in pig skin. It contains examples of works by over a hundred poets, of whom the most celebrated are:

A series of englynion in Welsh and Latin were added on f.v of the volume in a 17th century hand, and they are attributed to Mr Sergeant Griffith. Jesus College Oxford MS 101 is believed to be an exact transcript of this manuscript.

Further reading