Honourable Society of Cymmrodorion (London, England)

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Honourable Society of Cymmrodorion (London, England)

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The Honourable Society of Cymmrodorion was founded in 1751 by Richard Morris with the aim of gathering London Welshmen in 'unity and fraternity' and of supporting the Society of Ancient Britons.

During the first phase of its history, 1751-1787, together with corresponding members in Wales, the Society encouraged the endeavours of literary men in Wales and became the principal formal manifestation of Welsh culture.

The Society was revived during the second phase, 1820-1843, by a group of zealous Welsh clergymen ('Yr Hen Bersoniaid Llengar'), who saw the need for a central organisation such as the Cymmrodorion to supervise the provincial eisteddfodau organised by the four Cambrian Societies. Almost all of the Cambrian Societies' officials were Members of Parliament, and therefore London became a convenient centre for its proceedings. Some publishing was undertaken during this period, and medals were given for distinguished services in the field of literature and art as well as annual medals to grammar school students for Welsh essays on a given subject.

The third phase, extending from 1873 to the present day, is the most important in the Society's history. After a lapse of thirty years, it was revived by a group of London Welshmen with the purpose of encouraging literature, science and art as connected with Wales, as well as directing and co-ordinating the endeavours of the Welsh people in the fields of education and social reform. Inevitably, London once more became the Society's administrative centre, the venue for the Cymmrodorion Council meetings, and periodical gatherings for the reading of papers on literary, scientific or artistic topics of Welsh interest. The Cymmrodorion Section meetings of the National Eisteddfod had a different function, and dealt with topics of immediate interest to Wales. As well as stimulating developments in Welsh education, such as the Intermediate Education Act, 1889, and the establishment of the University of Wales in 1893, they were responsible for forming the National Eisteddfod Association and ensuring that the festival was held annually. They also promoted the formation of other societies which were felt to be needed from time to time, as well as being prominent in stimulating the movements for the establishment of the National Library and National Museum of Wales.

Probably the Society's most distinctive work has been the promotion and publication of scholarly studies through the periodical Y Cymmrodor from 1877-1951, the Cymmrodorion Record Series from 1889 onwards, The Dictionary of Welsh Biography down to 1949 (1953), and the Transactions which appear annually.

The success of the third Cymmrodorion Society owes a great deal to the labours, tactfulness and remarkable organising powers of Sir E. Vincent Evans, who was appointed as secretary in 1887 andcontinued in this office until his death in 1934. He was also involved with the editing and publishing of many of the Cymmrodorion publications, (Y Cymmrodor, the Transactions, and the Cymmrodorion Record Series), and succeeded in substantially increasing the membership. Most of the Society's records listed here coincide with his tenure as secretary.


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