Evans, Evan, 1731-1788

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Evans, Evan, 1731-1788

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  • Ieuan Brydydd Hir, 1731-1788
  • Ieuan Fardd, 1731-1788

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Evan Evans (Ieuan Fardd or Ieuan Brydydd Hir, 1731-1788), scholar, poet and critic, was born in the parish of Lledrod, Cardiganshire. Even before he entered Merton College, Oxford, in 1750 Evans had made the acquaintance of such prominent literary and antiquarian figures as the Morris brothers - Lewis, Richard and William - of Anglesey, William Wynn of Llangynhafal and Goronwy Owen. Throughout his clerical career - he was ordained in 1755 - Evans would spend much of his time collecting and copying Welsh manuscripts of literary and historical interest, including poetry from the Red Book of Hergest, all the while making contact with others engaged in the same pursuit such as David Jones of Trefriw, Rhys Jones of Blaenau and John Powel of Llansannan, as well as English antiquaries such as Daines Barrington. In 1764 Evans published his seminal work Some specimens of the Poetry of the Antient Welsh Bards, in which he attempted to interpret the substantial output of Welsh poetry, much of it produced at court, from the sixth to the sixteenth century. Arguably the greatest Welsh scholar of his age, Evans possessed an in-depth knowledge of the contents of Welsh manuscripts in the various private libraries of the time and was well acquainted with the works of the great Welsh scholars from the Renaissance onwards. He realised that the chief requirement of Welsh scholarship in his day and age was the publication of the texts of the principal manuscripts which related to the history and literature of Wales. Although Evans himself ultimately failed in his endeavours to achieve this goal, the brilliant work he did accomplish earned him a position of unquestioned importance within the field of Welsh scholarship.

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