Fonds GB 0210 MSBROG - Brogyntyn manuscripts

Barddoniaeth Brogyntyn Lute Book

Identity area

Reference code



Brogyntyn manuscripts


  • [12 cent, first ½]-[1960s] (Creation)

Level of description


Extent and medium

89 volumes.

Context area

Name of creator

Biographical history

Brogyntyn (or Porkington), parish of Selattyn, near Oswestry, Shropshire, has been home to the Ormsby-Gore family, later Barons Harlech, since 1815, and before that their ancestors the Maurices and Owens. In the mid sixteenth century the owner of the Brogyntyn estate was John Wynn Lacon whose daughter and heiress, Margaret (1541-1571/2), married Sir William Maurice (1542-1622) of Clenennau, Caernarfonshire. After Sir William's death the family's focus moved from Clenennau to Brogyntyn where his grand-daughter Ellen Eure (1598-1626) made her home with her husband, John Owen of Bodsilin. The Civil War saw their sons Col. Sir John Owen (1600-1666) and Col. William Owen (1607-1670) take charge of Brogyntyn. Marriages during the seventeenth century forged links with the Anwyl family of Parc, Llanfrothen (1648), and the Glyn and Ystumcegid estates (1683). William Owen (d. 1768) married Mary, daughter of Henry Godolphin, Dean of St Paul's and Provost of Eton. Their son, Robert Godolphin Owen (1733-1792) died without issue and the estate passed to his sister, Margaret (d. 1806), who had married Owen Ormsby in 1777. In 1815 their daughter, Mary Jane (1781-1869), heiress of Brogyntyn, Clenennau and Glyn, married William Gore (1779-1860), who assumed the additional surname of Ormsby. Their heir, John Ralph Ormsby-Gore (1816-1876) was created Baron Harlech. The estate held by him in 1873 came to some 20,000 acres of land in North Wales with an estimated rental of £9,613. The 6th baron is Francis David Ormsby-Gore (b. 1954).

Archival history

The early history of the Brogyntyn or Porkington library is obscure. Sir Robert Owen of Brogyntyn (d. 1698), a known bibliophile and antiquary kept up a longstanding family tradition of patronage of the poets. His grandfather, Lewis Anwyl of Parc, made a good collection of printed English literature. In the nineteenth century, some members of the family are known collectors of early printed books but none of them can be identified as a collector of manuscripts. The internal evidence of the manuscripts themselves suggests that the collection had mainly come together, by descent or deliberate acquisition, by about 1700. There is the further likelihood, also supported to some degree by the internal evidence, that many of the medieval manuscripts had not travelled very far from their original homes by that date. The earliest catalogue of the manuscripts is that by Sir Thomas Phillipps describing thirty-two manuscripts, Manuscripts at Porkington (1837), printed by him on a single sheet. This was extended to MS 40 in a revised version of Phillipps's catalogue found in two sources: the copy by D. R. Thomas (NLW MS 1197A) and the pencil revisions by W. W. E. Wynne of Peniarth in a copy of Phillipps's printed leaf (Brogyntyn MS I.23). In this revised version some of the manuscript numbers were changed. The report by Alfred Horwood, 'The manuscripts of J. R. Ormsby-Gore, Esq., M.P., of Brogyntyn, co. Salop.', Royal Commission on Historical Manuscripts, Second Report (London, 1874), pp. 84-88, follows the revised numeration (with one exception, probably a misprint), provides fuller descriptions than Phillipps, but omits fifteen of the forty manuscripts altogether. This HMC report is the main source of the 'Porkington MS' numbers formerly used by some authorities. The Brogyntyn MSS were deposited in the National Library of Wales by the 3rd Lord Harlech in 1934 (MSS I.1-30) and the 4th Lord Harlech in 1938 (MSS II.1-59).

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

Brogyntyn MSS I.1-7, 9-16, 19-20, 24, 26, 28-30 and II.8, 11, 31, 37, 41, 44, 50-51, 55-57 (including all the Welsh MSS): 4th Lord Harlech; Brogyntyn; Converted into a donation; 1945.

Brogyntyn MSS I.8, 17-18, 21-23, 25, 27, and II.1-7, 9-10, 12-30, 32-36, 38-40, 42-43, 45-49, 52-54, 58-59: 6th Lord Harlech; Brogyntyn; Purchase (except MS II.42, given to NLW in lieu of Inheritance Tax); 1993.

Content and structure area

Scope and content

Important mediæval manuscripts and later literary and historical manuscripts, [12 cent, first ½]-[late 19 cent.], reflecting the collecting interests of the Maurice and Owen families of Clenennau and Brogyntyn.
They include an important mid-fifteenth century miscellany of prose and verse in Middle English (Brogyntyn MS II.1); English and Welsh poetry; plays; astrology and prophecies; chronicles of the history of Britain, one of which is a thirteenth century version of Historia Regum Britanniæ of Geoffrey of Monmouth (Brogyntyn MS I.7); a lute book, [c. 1595] (Brogyntyn MS I.27); a copy of the laws of Hywel Dda [1625x1632] (Brogyntyn MS I.12); legal precedents and other papers of legal interest in Latin and English; pedigrees, genealogy and heraldry of North and South Wales families; religious treatises, prayers, devotions and sermons; a seventeenth-century Latin-Welsh dictionary and other manuscripts of linguistic interest; extracts from classical literature; commonplace books; academic notes; copies of significant historical letters and documents; political tracts; moralistic and philosophical works; memoranda, journals and private papers of members of the Anwyl and Owen families; a few Brogyntyn estate and trust papers, 1727-1792; and notes on public offices and official papers deriving from the administration of Oswestry Corporation, 1660, 1673. Some ancilliary materials, [19 cent, second ½]-[1960s], mostly correspondence and notes relating to individual manuscripts, are also included (MSS I.27a, II.1a, II.10a, II.22a, II.42a, II.54(h), II.56a).

Appraisal, destruction and scheduling


System of arrangement

Arranged at NLW in 1938 as two series of manuscripts, the first (I.1-30) reflecting the initial deposit of thirty manuscripts in 1934, and the second (II.1-59) the further deposit of 59 manuscripts in 1938.

Conditions of access and use area

Conditions governing access

Access to the original manuscripts by authorised permission only. Readers are directed to use surrogate copies.

Conditions governing reproduction

Usual copyright laws apply.

Language of material

  • Arabic
  • English
  • French
  • Greek
  • Hebrew
  • Latin
  • Romance Language
  • Welsh

Script of material

Language and script notes

English, Latin, Welsh, French, some Greek, Arabic, Anglo Norman and Hebrew.

Physical characteristics and technical requirements

Finding aids

A detailed list of the Welsh manuscripts' contents may be found in the unpublished Catalogue of the Brogyntyn Manuscripts: Volume I, Manuscripts in the Welsh Language (2005), a copy of which is available in the Library.

Generated finding aid

Allied materials area

Existence and location of originals

Existence and location of copies

Microfilm copies of the manuscripts are available at the Library.

Related units of description

See also NLW, Brogyntyn Estate and Family Records.

Publication note

The Welsh manuscripts are discussed at length by E. D. Jones in a series of articles entitled 'The Brogyntyn Welsh Manuscripts' in The National Library of Wales Journal, 5 (1948), 233-264; 6 (1949-50), 1-42, 149-161, 223-248, 309-328; 7 (1951-2), 1-11, 85-101, 165-198, 277-315; and 8 (1953), 1-21.

Notes area


Title based on contents.


New catalogue descriptions of the Brogyntyn manuscripts were compiled at the National Library of Wales between 1993 and 2005 by Daniel Huws, Dr Ceridwen Lloyd-Morgan and Graham C. G. Thomas, assisted by Dafydd Ifans and Dr Maredudd ap Huw. It was originally intended to publish a two volume Catalogue of the Brogyntyn Manuscripts: the first volume, edited by Dafydd Ifans, describing the Welsh manuscripts, and the second, edited by Dr Lloyd-Morgan, describing manuscripts in languages other than Welsh. These plans were ultimately abandoned and the descriptions have instead been adapted for presentation here.

Alternative identifier(s)

Virtua system control number


Access points

Place 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

March 2005-July 2015.


  • English



Archivist's note

Description compiled by Dafydd Ifans, and edited by Rhys Morgan Jones and Maredudd ap Huw;

Accession area