The First Printing Press in Caernarvon

18th Century Wooden LetterpressThe First Printing Press in Caernarvon

Thomas Roberts (1760 – 1811) was educated as a boy at Talgarth school in 1775 and was then sent to London in about 1782 to be tutored under the supervision of the well-known Moravian Benjamin La Trobe, as well as to learn the printer’s trade. After La Trobe’s death in 1786 Roberts returned to his home at Trefeca (in Wales) to superintend the printing of ‘ y Beibl bach ‘ — the small Bible.

In 1796 he went to Caernarfon and by 1797 had established the first printing press in that up and coming town. In 1800 he printed the first number of what was intended to be a periodical — Greal neu Eurgrawn (The Grail)… seven years later he printed the first number of another periodical — Trysorfa Gwybodaeth, neu Eurgrawn Cymraeg (The Welsh Treasury of Knowledge)… Ifano Jones, in his History of Printing and Printers in Wales, quotes the titles of some other works printed by Thomas Roberts up to 1811 and after his death, by his widow Mary (ne. Williams) Roberts.[6]

(See a select bibliography of Thomas Roberts work from the National Library of Wales, here.)

Caernarvon boasted a growing intelligentsia, established literati, potential wealthy patrons, and by 1797, a brand new printing press for the widespread dissemination of all this creative outpouring. It’s a small wonder that the Jones brothers chose Caernarvon as the launching pad for their sons’ careers. This decision, in the coming years, would prove wise and profitable for the family, as we shall see in upcoming chapters.

Before we go on, there’s one tiny little scrap in both the Welsh Biographical records and in The Baby Book records, which inspires more than a little romantic speculation in regards to the true nature of David Ellis Jones. It’s this; his eldest son William Ellis Jones was born October 9, 1795 at Tyddyn Sion (The House of Sion) in the parish of Abererch, Caernarvonshire. Abererch is a tiny village located a scant two miles from Pwllheli, where David Ellis and his brother William had attended school more than fifty-three years prior to William Ellis Jones birth.

What were David Ellis and his bride Catherine doing at Pwllheli in 1795? It’s impossible to say for certain. I’ll venture a guess that David returned to the scene of the best years of his life, trying to recapture some of that old intellectual nostalgia which so inspired him in his youth. He may even have gotten an appointment to teach at the same school he’d attended as a child. It’s a truly romantic notion. This is the only possible connection I can find between the Jones family and the neighborhood at Pwllheli, so I am inclined to go with it.

Whatever the truth may be, the adventure to Pwllheli was brief. By 1800 when their second son, Thomas Norcliffe Jones was born, David Ellis was raising his family at Caernarvon where his nephew Lewis Evan Jones was busily engaged in the printing trade under the guidance of Thomas Roberts – the only printer in town.

————-

[6] A history of printing and printers in Wales to 1810, and of successive and related printers to 1923. Also, A history of printing and printers in Monmouthshire to 1923, By J. Ifano Jones. (1925) Cardiff | William Lewis.

The North Wales Gazette , 2 May 1811. (Notes taken by Mr. R. Idloes Owen, Bangor , from the diaries of Thomas Roberts, Sr and family document., at the National Library of Wales.)

Additional Source: The Baby Book | William Ellis Jones Jr. Family History, By William Ellis Jones Jr. (1936)

Advertisements

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Old Used Bookshop

Home of a million stories hanging on the walls.

Reunion

America's Reconstruction at 150

Renegade South

histories of unconventional southerners

Student of the American Civil War

Reflections on learning about the Civil War

Gotta Find a Home

Conversations with Street People

The Gettysburg Compiler

On the front lines of history

Emerging Civil War

Providing fresh perspectives on America's defining event

The Neighborhood

Society online's creative conscious.

The Daily Dahlia

Not so daily, but definitely Dahlia.

Irish in the American Civil War

Exploring Irish Emigration & Irish Involvement in the American Civil War

To Preserve Family and Farm

A True Story of a Family's Encounter with Sherman's Army

Adventures in North Carolina Culture

The official blog of the N.C. Department of Cultural Resources

Crutchfield's Orthoglossary

Notes & Comment on Language, Spoken & Written

stillness of heart

MUSINGS : CRITICISM : HISTORY : PASSION

Fredericksburg Remembered

Musings on history, public history, and historic Fredericksburg

Stumbling in the Shadows of Giants

For the sins of your fathers you, though guiltless, must suffer. - Odes of Horace

Cenantua's Blog

As a Southerner and native of the Shenandoah Valley, I offer reflections on the Civil War-era South... and sometimes a little more. But... expect the unexpected

Southern Unionists Chronicles

Reflections on the lives and experiences of Southern Unionists, during and after the American Civil War

Daily (w)rite

A DAILY RITUAL OF WRITING

Mark Coakley

Author of "Hidden Harvest" and "Tip and Trade"

Eye-Dancers

A site devoted to the Young Adult sci-fi/fantasy novel The Eye-Dancers

Break Room Stories

Service Industry Stories and More Since 2012

South Cathedral Place

Finding Architectural History and Following Historic Preservation in Richmond, Virginia

CardiffCataloguers

Cataloguing at Cardiff University

Alec Nevala-Lee

Thoughts on art, creativity, and the writing life.

Virginia Historical Society's Blog

exhibitions, education, research, tours, bus trips, lectures, classes, collections, outreach, library, shop, and everything Virginia history!

Chronicles of Harriet

The Very BEST in Afrofuturism and Black Speculative Fiction!

Middlemay Farm

Nubian Goats, Katahdin Sheep, Chickens, Ducks, Dogs and Novelist Adrienne Morris live here (with humans).

Mysteries & Conundrums

Exploring the Civil War-era landscape in the Fredericksburg & Spotsylvania region.

Stacey Redick

Information Professional

jamesgray2

A discussion of interesting books from my current stock A WordPress.com site

Special Collections and Archives / Casgliadau Arbennig ac Archifau

Showcasing Research Resources / Hyrwyddo Adnoddau Ymchwil

Vulpes Libris

A collective of bibliophiles talking about books. Book Fox (vulpes libris): small bibliovorous mammal of overactive imagination and uncommonly large bookshop expenses. Habitat: anywhere the rustle of pages can be heard.

Historic Collections at Senate House Library

Showcasing our rare books, manuscripts, archives, historic maps, artefacts and artworks

%d bloggers like this: