William Ellis Jones / Cawrdaf (1795 – 1848) – Bard & “Master of the Chair”

William Ellis Jones | Cawrdaf (1795 - 1848)

Portrait of Cawrdaf, from the biography written and published by his brother, John Ellis Jones.

William Ellis Jones / Cawrdaf (1795 – 1848)
The eldest son of David Ellis Jones (c. 1733 – unknown) and his wife Catherine (ne. Hughes) (1766 – after 1851), was born on October 9, 1795, and baptized at the chapel of St. Cawrdaf at Tyddyn Siôn, Abererch, Caernarvonshire. Of all my Jones ancestors in Wales, this one has left the most comprehensive record of his life and work.

If the concept of celebrity as we know it today had existed in Wales in the early 19th century, William Ellis Jones (commonly known and recalled by his bardic name “Cawrdaf”) would have personified the term.

If James Fenimore Cooper was correct when he wrote in Pioneers that it takes “…three generations to make a gentleman…” I’ll adapt the sentiment and state that it takes three generations to make a genius. A genius is what William Ellis Jones certainly was, but his genius was not entirely of his own creation. His accomplishments and fame were made possible by decisions made and paths taken by those who came before him.

First we must credit the father of Richard Jones, William’s great-grandfather, for his foresight and ambition. Instead of following centuries of tradition and remaining a tenant, he chose instead to become a freeholder – a yeoman farmer; a landowner. He took great personal risks, acquired land, and extended his holdings in order to shore up his financial foundations by taking advantage of new laws that were altogether foreign in his country; a very risky proposition He had tremendous foresight and bravery. He is the foundation of us all – and we don’t even know his name for certain (though we assume, based on the patronymic naming system common in Wales, that his name was John, or Ion in Welsh.)

Richard Jones deserves tremendous credit too. Instead of allowing his children to remain shoeless and ignorant of the larger world, he invested generously in their education and preparation for a rapidly changing society. He was another risk-taker whose investments paid off in spades.

Credit must also be paid to William’s father, David Ellis Jones. He was a loyal son to his father and he stayed on the farm far longer than perhaps he may have wanted, but when his opportunity came, he took his young family to the city. Once in Caernarvon, David was able to expose his impressionable son to artists, poets, authors, religious leaders, and a vigorous pace of intellectual conversation that could not have been possible at Dolgellau. Instead of trusting this son’s education to individuals who were ill-equipped to harness and channel his imagination and energy, he took over William’s education himself, and set the boy on a path toward real accomplishment and greatness.

William Ellis Jones had the benefit of the best of two radically different worlds. His country cousins, uncles and aunts in rural, steady Dolgellau were close kin. The extended family clearly visited one another frequently and supported one another in their interests and ventures. Moreover, they were “beloved”. His family in Caernarvon; father, mother, brothers John and Thomas, sister, cousin Lewis Evan and his sons and daughters, provided a close support system and a cosmopolitan society of connections of immeasurable benefit and influence. There must have been fantastic debates around the familial supper table when Uncle Richard came to visit Cousin Lewis in town; their opposing religious and political positions serving as fodder for animated and intellectually stimulating conversation. (History reveals to us – as I will demonstrate shortly – that in these debates, cousin Lewis carried the day in terms of forming William’s opinions on politics and religion.)

In Caernarfon, even as a small boy, William would have been brought into daily contact with men like Dafydd Ddu, William Williams, Owen Owen Roberts, Robert Hughes, and Abraham Williams – just to name a few. He would have had access to the entirety of his fathers and uncles substantial libraries and bookshops in town, and access as well to cousin Richard’s vast body of work when he visited and eventually worked at Dolgellau. His exposure to this literature, to the personalities who created it, to the means of production and dissemination of it at the network of print shops his extended family operated – all this access conspired to make his genius possible.

If potential lies in one’s innate intelligence, base talent, and desire, then opportunity and environment are the fuel to light the fire of one’s potential. William Ellis Jones had both – and he made the most of them to the fullest extent of his physical and intellectual ability.

A good deal has been written about William Ellis Jones, and a good deal more was written by him. Without the ability to read Welsh, I must confess how disappointing it has been to me to be unable to appreciate the creative works of my ancestor. As far as my research has revealed, very little of his work has been translated into English. I hope that at some point during my lifetime some Welsh literary scholar will undertake this gargantuan effort, but in the meantime we (English only Philistines) must be contented with what has been written about William Ellis Jones, and the little we have by him that exists in translation.

The first and closest source we have about William Ellis Jones’ life was written by his youngest brother, John Ellis Jones, in 1851. This material was published from John Ellis Jones shop on Chapel Street in Caernarfon, shortly after Williams’ death, under the title of Gweithoedd Cawrdaf: sef, y diweddar W.E. Jones: yn cynnwys ‘Gwyddfa y bardd’ a’r ‘Meudwy Cymreig (The Poetical Work of Cawrdaf, namely, the late W.E. Jones – includes ‘Snowdon Poet’ and  ‘The Welsh Hermit’.)

This is one of the books that my father sent to me shortly before he died in 1998; a book which I never looked at again until almost ten years later when I rediscovered the treasure trove of material handed to me by my father. The book is written entirely in Welsh, but as I discovered when I began to examine the materials that my father had given me, his father, William Ellis Jones (1899 – 1951)  had the introduction (preface) and short biography of Cawrdaf translated into English in 1934. The translator was Rev. James A. Geary of the Catholic University of America, Washington D.C. The book itself came into my grandfather’s possession from Mr. John Ellis Pritchard of Caernarvon, Wales (a distant relation) through the course of an extended correspondence during the period that my grandfather undertook serious research into the Jones family history (from the 1920’s through 1936.)

This translation is the first and best resource we have when trying to form a picture of William Ellis Jones the man, and his career as a poet.

(For translations and access to extensive material on William Ellis Jones (1795 – 1848), see the upcoming book Stumbling in the Shadows of Giants, by C.H. Jones. The following material is selected from the book.)

….After completing his apprenticeship, developing skill in a trade as well as talents in art and literature, what is an ambitious, twenty-one year old genius-in-training to do once he’s free to choose for himself? Go to the New World, of course!

The American connection seems a stretch, at first. There were no Gwyneddigion Societies in America. No great Eisteddfod competitions. Not even any Welsh speakers at all. But America had attracted one thing – or more specifically one person – that Wales apparently, could not hold onto, and that was a Welsh Bard nonpareil.

Goronwy Owen had gone to America. He left Wales in 1757, long before William was born. But his fame and reputation had grown in Wales since his departure for “The New World”, and his legend in the Jones family had never waned. William’s father and his “beloved” Uncle William had almost certainly maintained regular correspondence with the elder statesman of the Welsh bardic tradition up until his death in 1769. And there is no question that his father and uncle had been deeply influenced by Owen and saw him as their mentor when they were young. Owen had introduced them to the world of literature, culture, art and the love of learning. And America had Goronwy Owen, or at least it had his children, who William’s family almost certainly maintained contact with. Perhaps there was something there to draw another ambitious bard to America’s shores?

Owen’s letters were no doubt filled with purple prose about the mystique of Virginia, the endless opportunities for incalculable success, and the drama of life in a completely new country – a country being built on foundations of Liberty and Freedom – the first true Democracy in the world. Perhaps William had read those letters; all of them written when Virginia was still a colony, still wild and still full of adventure and opportunity. Perhaps he formed an idea in his mind of a place where he could make his own way, make his fortune, and pursue his art without the inhibitions and rigorous critique of a thousand year old tradition, without a rigid church and an even more rigid social system. A place where a Welshman with drive and determination could actually get past the coiffed nobles in their lace cuffed blue coats, and actually get ahead. If that was the case, William would not have been the first young Welshman to romanticize The New World.

For all his extensive reading, William apparently had not been widely exposed to the true story of what life was actually like for the average Welshman in America, much less what it would be like for a young man with a poets heart and an artist’s sensitivity. America in 1817 was nowhere for a young man like William Ellis Jones to wind up. If it didn’t kill him it would certainly have bruised his tender nature, probably leaving permanent scars. Whatever the case may be, we’re lucky that his parents talked some sense into him, and luckier still that he actually listened.

So, London was the place. That’s where a young man of his genius and his potential belonged. Thank goodness. London offered everything that America, even with all its fairy tale stories of instant success, could not. London had a large and influential expatriate society of Welshmen. Successful men; men with talents and with important social connections. William made the right decision and it worked out well for him – and for that unforgivably rigid, allegedly ancient Welsh bardic tradition.

William was introduced to all the right people. He got the chance to travel to Europe and probably saw all the important capitals, palaces, great houses, museums and libraries – at least the ones still standing after Napoleon was done with them. He traveled in company with “a nobleman”, so he got a rare opportunity to see how the other half lived. Since this biographical sketch does not include the name of the nobleman, nor does any other biographical material I have been able to uncover, one is left to conclude that William and the nobleman didn’t part at the end of their journey as lifelong friends. Odds are that William was brought along to provide a very specific service; create drawings, sketches, and a few presentable watercolors of the notable sights on their journey. These would be bound into a travel log of sorts as a keepsake for the aforementioned young nobleman to show off to friends and family as evidence of his grand tour. William probably didn’t share the well-appointed accommodations or grand society of his employer. He was likely stacked into the servant’s quarters with the footmen and butlers. He would have been summoned and dismissed like any other servant working at the pleasure of his master. This wasn’t William’s world – and these were not his kind of people. But he would have had some leisure time to explore, and I have little doubt he took advantage of that opportunity. John Ellis Jones concluding statement, “…we shall not follow their various journeys except to say that he found sufficient materials for his art…” may simply be a very diplomatic way of saying; …about this trip; it was miserable. They worked him like a slave and treated him like a dog. He did, however, get to see some really fabulous landscapes, and visit some spectacular libraries.

William made his way back to Wales, earning his bread along the way, with all these recollections and foundational experiences fresh in his head. He was humbled physically by the rigors of his travels and probably humbled psychologically too. He’d seen the greater part of the Western world; the good and the bad of it. He’d seen the great capitals and the Swiss Alps, the Italian countryside and Roman ruins, the Louvre and the British Library. He’d also seen the aftermath of Napoléon’s ravages across Europe, the physical destruction of property as well as broken civil infrastructure, broken communities, and broken families. The experience probably left William wiser and more appreciative of his own homeland and tight knit family. But while William was in London and Europe, he also saw some exceptionally beautiful things; things that could not be had in Wales – not yet anyway. With that thought noodling around in his brain, he turned his attention toward home with a determination he had not previously known.

While William never completely gave up his fascination with America, he never left Wales again. Wales was his home, the home of his lovely language, and the place where he would always have friends and family around him to support him, encourage him, and give him the freedom he needed to write, create, and labor at those things he loved to do with intensity and quest toward perfection. If he had not understood this before his adventures to the metropolis of London and his journey abroad to the continent, he understood it by the time he returned. William settled down, married, started a family of his own, and he got to work becoming one of Wales most celebrated poets and authors. But he was more than that too.

The fact of William Ellis Jones gift to Welsh literature is established and well documented, especially among Welsh scholars. The biographical material is clear and thorough, and his body of work speaks for itself. He was a celebrated Bard – the equivalent of a Singer-Songwriter-Producer-Rock Star today. Wherever he went he was recognized and lauded, and he was repeatedly invited to adjudicate the growing list of Eisteddfods held throughout the country, further cementing his celebrated reputation. Because this aspect of William’s life is so thoroughly recognized, I will defer any further investigation into it. Our interest in William will take a different course.

There is an aspect of William’s career that is less well documented than his bardic career, and it’s in that direction that I’ll turn our focus.

Besides becoming one of the most widely respected litterateurs of the era, he was also – and this is an important distinction that I believe history has neglected – one of the most gifted editors and translators of his generation, as well as a master craftsman[22] of the printing and publishing trade. Over the course of his nearly forty year career in the trade, his singular efforts brought hundreds if not thousands of volumes, small and large – some absolutely tremendous – into the hands of Welsh-speaking citizens. This body of work has never been fully accounted, much less credited to him.

The owners of the various publishing firms that produced books and periodicals throughout Wales in the 19th century have been well-credited, the Jones’ included. Their contribution is incalculable. But these men, after a greater or lesser tenure in the trade, became “businessmen”. Like business owners today they were occupied with the “front office work” of raising subscriptions to finance their productions, collecting debts, ordering materials, paying taxes, and managing payroll.

The shop floor was another world. It required a gifted staff of highly skilled, detail oriented, uniquely talented wordsmiths and craftsmen, all working together in absolute synchronicity in order to produce the volume and quality of work required to make the business successful. These individuals; working in shirtsleeves at composting tables, hand-setting type; or hunched over lithographers stones with etching tools and a magnifying glass; or spread across desks with manuscripts, dictionaries, and other reference works piled high in stacks, laboriously transcribing complex prose from one language to another; or carefully editing and recopying illegible handwritten manuscripts into comprehensible text that the compositor could follow; these people were the anonymous souls who made the production of  all these now rare and precious volumes possible.

Making books (the objects themselves) the way they were made in the 19th century was not a mechanized process – it was hand craft of the highest art form.

William Ellis Jones was a master-craftsman among masters, and the body of work that we know he helped produce demonstrates that fact. While it’s impossible for me, in the scope of this book, to provide a comprehensive list of all of the works that William managed, edited, translated, and/or composed, I will put forth a few examples that demonstrate his exceptional talents, and demonstrate his contribution to the body of 19th century Welsh literature and scholarly material.

First, let’s have a look at his basic resume. The following list offers a brief overview of where, and with with whom William worked, and when:
– (1807 – 1814) 12 to 18 years old: Apprenticed in the shop of his cousin, Richard Jones, at Dolgellau.
– (1814 – 1816) 18 to 20 years old: Worked in the office of his cousin, Lewis Evan Jones in Caernarfon
– (1816 – c. 1819) 20 to 23 years old: Worked for unknown printer(s) in London.
– (1820 – 1824) 25 to 29 years old: Worked again for his cousin, Richard Jones, at Dolgellau.
– (1824 – 1828) 29 to 34 years old: Worked for Mr. John Evans in the office of the ‘Seren Gomer’ (Star of Gomer; a newspaper and publisher) in Carmarthen.
– (1828 – 1830) 34 to 36 years old: Worked for Mr. J. L. Brigstocke, also in Carmarthen.
– (1830 – 1831) 36 to 37 years old: With his brother John Ellis Jones, moved to London and briefly printed the Welsh-language periodical Y Cymro
– (1831 – 1840) 38 to 46 years old: Worked at Methyr Tydfill under the management of Josiah T. Jones as compositor, editor, and overseer.
– (1840 – 1848) 46 to 53 years old: Worked at the shop with Josiah T. Jones, after it moved from Methyr Tydfill to Carmarthen, where he worked throughout the remainder of his life as compositor, editor, and overseer.

The most striking thing about this list is how many different shops William was associated with throughout his career. Unlike today, when people move around and change positions on a whim, it was quite uncommon in the 19th century for tradesmen to “job hop”. In fact it was expected that when a man took a position in a firm, he would hold that position for life (or promoted to another, if earned). His position was guaranteed at least for as long as the business itself remained in operation. Even in the case of the death of the original owner and the shop was transferred to an heir, or if the business was sold to another owner, the employees of the firm were considered very much as if they were a part of the “capital” of the operation, and they transferred with it from master to master. [23]

In that era there were only a few reasons for a man to move around with this kind of frequency. The first and most common was that the worker was unreliable and debt-ridden. He “skipped town” before his debts and reputation caught up with him. There is no indication that this was the case with William. He spent the bulk of his career in businesses owned by family members or in close association with family, either near or distant. He kept in intimate and congenial contact with all of them, so there must be another reason for his regular rotation around the country from shop to shop.

The other reason that a tradesman might shift from operation to operation with the frequency we see in Williams resume is that he was uncommonly gifted at his craft, and was lured to move to new situations with promises of better pay, opportunity for more challenging work, and more freedom to direct the projects according to his own vision.  If we examine the works that William was associated with over his career, we see that they did indeed become ever more ambitious and that he did have ever more influence over the editorial focus. We also see, particularly in works associated with the latter portion of his career that his involvement in their production is comprehensive – from writing, to editing, to composing the lead text blocks himself, to shop manager or overseer. He had, by the end of his career, become a true craft printer and publisher. He oversaw every aspect of the book creation process; from editing the final draft of the hand-written manuscript to final book-binding. In the case of larger works, like those we will examine shortly, this process, from manuscript to final binding, might involve years of consistent, tedious labor.

…After returning from London in about 1820, William Ellis Jones quickly re-established himself in the office of his old master and cousin, Richard Jones, at Dolgellau. By that time, Richard had been operating as sole proprietor of the Dolgellau shop since 1808 – twelve years. We have to hope that in twelve years of business he’d learned a thing or two about the trade, but his resume up to this point isn’t altogether reassuring…

(See a sample catalog of books bearing Richard Jones various imprints at the National Library of Wales.)

(For translations and access to extensive material on William Ellis Jones (1795 – 1848), see the upcoming book Stumbling in the Shadows of Giants, by C.H. Jones. The following material is selected from the book.)

John Lewis Brigstocke’s shop at Carmarthen – from 1828 to 1830
William’s decision to go to this printer appears to be a curious one, if we consider it from the perspective of an individual attempting to build a reputation and status in his trade. Brigstocke hardly gets a mention in Ifano Jones, and that mention is in association with William Jones, not the other way around (as it is with ever other “Master” in the book.)[27] This firm hardly registers in the National Library of Wales catalog either… This lack of surviving work leads one to conclude that the firm was of little consequence in regards to its contribution to the body of Welsh language work produced during the period we’re interested in (or any period, for that matter), or, that his work was so controversial in nature that most of it has been lost.

Either would be a reasonable conclusion, and it would seem to be a bad career move on William’s part, until we consider that one of the titles produced during William’s brief tenure with this shop was his own. Y bardd, neu, Y meudwy Cymreig (The Bard, or the Welsh Hermit.) This title is William Ellis Jones own authorial effort. It is considered by some scholars to be the first ever novel produced in the Welsh language, and at 264 pages it appears to be the most ambitious work ever attempted by the presses at Brigstocke. It’s also William Ellis Jones most ambitious authorial work.

It’s my belief that William made an intentional move to Brigstocke’s firm – a firm that was not nearly as busy as any of his previous situations – in order to have the time, freedom, and lack of competing obligations, to pursue his own art. Brigstocke was probably thrilled to be able to steal William away from his competitor John Evans, and it is possible that William did bring some new work into the office, as well as contributing to the training of staff and improving the professional standards at the firm.

The years immediately before and during William’s tenure with Brigstocke were among his most productive, artistically and spiritually. As well as having been recognized as a “Bard” of the “Island of Britain” in 1821, he won the coveted Bardic Chair in Glamorgan, Monmouth, in 1822. In 1832, at the Eisteddfod of Beaumaris, he was awarded a special medal for an ode read in that contest; the medal was presented to him personally by their Royal Highnesses, The Duchess of Kent and Princess Victoria.

William also continued to draw and paint, and he was becoming increasingly more devoted to the Methodist Assembly. He was an active preacher until 1832, about the time he left Brigstocke and went to London to publish Y Cymro (The Welshman) with his brother John Ellis, before giving up that endeavor to join J.T. Jones office at Methyr Tydfil), but he continued to be a deeply religious man and participated in Methodist activities on a regular basis.

The two year respite at Brigstocke’s shop, and his time in London with his brother John Ellis publishing Y Cymro, almost certainly gave William the breathing room he needed to finish some lingering major projects, allowing him to refocus philosophically and spiritually. It also provided him a physical and psychological reboot, which he was going to need in order to tackle the next, most challenging and rewarding phase in his career.

Josiah Thomas Jones’ shop at Merthyr-Tydfill – 1832 to 1840
Almost as soon as The Bard was bound and boxed, William was off to his next employer; Josiah T. Jones, whose shop was located in the south, at the industrial ironworks town of Merthyr Tydfill. The year was 1830; a pivotal period in Merthyr’s history and the moment in which the birth pangs of an organized labor movement were first beginning to be felt.

William had to know where he was going, and what was going on in the town. Let’s not forget that his conservative cousin and former employer, Richard Jones had relocated his Pontypool press to Mertyr Tydfill in 1828, and as quickly moved out again in 1829. William had to be well aware of the situation on the ground. It’s probable that there was no one left in Wales by 1830 who didn’t know about the coal fields, the ironworks, the slums, the disease, and violence that had transformed southern Wales in the previous seventy years. In fact, there was probably no one left in Wales who couldn’t smell the brimstone and sulfur spitting furnaces of Merthyr, regardless of where in the country they lived…

(For translations and access to extensive material on William Ellis Jones (1795 – 1848), see the upcoming book Stumbling in the Shadows of Giants, by C.H. Jones. The following material is selected from the book.)

…Horrific living and working conditions, low pay, abuse of power, corruption at every level, lack of redress, and a court system that was cruel beyond comparison – this was the “civil” society in which 99% of the people served at the pleasure and under the absolute authority of the 1% who essentially owned them. Merthyr-Tydfil was a seething cauldron of discontent, and Josiah T. Jones, with his press, wanted to fan the flames of that discontent and bring about radical change in the process.

The primary instrument that J.T. Jones employed to get his radical message into the hands, hearts, and heads of the workers was a monthly newspaper; Y gwron Cymreig (The Welsh Hero). William Ellis Jones was attributed co-editor of the publication along with its proprietor; the first time that William ever received credit in print for the real heavy-lifting he’d been doing for years behind the scenes at his various employers. The content of the paper was mostly foreign, Welsh, and English current events, as well as reports on Parliament. Its overall mood was decidedly anti-establishment; anti-Tory, anti-Ironworks owners, and anti-Established Church (the Church of England and the Church of Wales.)

…If Merthyr-Tydfil was a seething cauldron of discontent when William arrived there in 1830, it was an absolute volcano by the time he and J.T. Jones were run out of town by the Ironworks Masters in 1840.[39] In his letter to his brother John Ellis in May of 1840, William cheekily described Merthyr as a “paradise”, and alluded to the reality that the firm was being forced to relocate to Carmarthen. The relocation occurred, but it didn’t change their attitudes or their editorial locus one bit. In fact in the years immediately following their removal to Carmarthen, they published some of their most vehement anti-establishment efforts up until that time, including an indictment on the toll road system (violent protests against the toll roads became known as the “Rebecca Riots”), and details of financial and moral corruption in the Church. There were still plenty of book sellers in Merthyr, and there’s little doubt that Josiah T. Jones kept their shelves well-stocked.

It’s unfortunate that the vast majority of the works published by Josiah T. Jones and William Ellis Jones from this period have not survived. What we have left is a tiny fraction of evidence of their labor on behalf of the everyday people living and dying, working hard and simply trying to survive in one of the most wretched places that has ever existed on Earth. Despite the loss of these treasures, there is a legacy left behind that those of us living in the 21st century have little appreciation for, but enjoy the benefits of, nonetheless. The five day work-week, reasonably clean air and water, the minimum wage, child labor laws, workers compensation, wages in recognized currency (instead of “company script” or “truck”), redress of grievances, and something that resembles representative democracy – these are the concepts that men like William Ellis Jones and Josiah Thomas Jones were fighting for back in the grimy slums of “Little Hell”. In their lifetimes they could only dream about such things as we take for granted every day. As bad as we think things are in our world, sometimes it pays to look back and see how far we have actually come – thanks to men like J.T. Jones and my Great-great-great-great uncle William Ellis Jones…

For more extensive material on William Ellis Jones (1795 – 1848), see the upcoming book Stumbling in the Shadows of Giants, by C.H. Jones. The material above is selected from the book.

To review a select bibliography of William Ellis Jones surviving works from the National Library of Wales, follow this link.


[22] A clarification of terminology is necessary here. I am employing the term “master” (i.e. “master-craftsman”) in its modern sense, indicating an attainment of a level of skill in a trade or craft that is exceptional – the highest level possible. The word “master” had another meaning in the 19th century, and in particular to the printers trade, it simply meant the owner of the establishment. We see many examples of books bearing imprints (publishers credits; for example; “Printed by Thomas Williams, Dolgelley, 1799”) in which the name on the page is that of an owner who has absolutely no background in printing whatsoever.
In the 19th century and before, individuals who took up a trade had to go through an intensive training program in order to establish themselves in the trade. The first stage of this training was the apprenticeship, begun at about twelve or thirteen years old, and continuing for seven years. Entering into an apprenticeship required a formal business contract, and was a binding agreement between the young trainee and “his master” (the shop owner.) Once the apprenticeship was completed, the next stage was that of journeyman. A journeyman printer was considered sufficiently qualified to work in any role on the shop floor, under supervision. From there the individual would begin to specialize. Some tradesmen became highly skilled in drawing and preparation of lithography stones for the reproduction of illustrations. Some became press operators, becoming expert in the fine tuning and operation of the cantankerous, hand operated (or later, steam operated) printing presses. Some became expert at the book binding process, which was a complex craft, requiring great artistry in the best shops where large, attractive works were among the projects. Some became editors and copy-writers, a role suited to well-educated and careful wordsmiths. Some, the particularly detail-oriented and highly skilled, became compositors, taking the final copy to set lead type. The highest ranking person in the shop, just below the owner (or Master) was the overseer, who managed all the projects in the shop, managed the people working in the shop, scheduled all aspects of the projects, and kept the entire operation choreographed and on-budget. The overseer was usually brought up from the role of editor/copywriter or compositor, and in many cases the overseer had served in all the roles on the shop floor admirably prior to his elevation.

[23] 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.
pp. 153-154

[27] 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.
pp. 158

[39] Josiah Thomas Jones – Welsh Biography Online: http://wbo.llgc.org.uk/en/s-JONE-THO-1799.html

Primary source and inspiration for this article: The Baby Book / William Ellis Jones Jr. Family History, By William Ellis Jones Jr. (1936)


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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

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