About the Society
Historical Notes






A number of early Welsh Newspapers contained references to and information about Aberdare although they may not have been published there. The following are among the more important:—


1 The Cambrian Register.


2 The Cambrian and General Weekly Advertiser for the Principality of Wales Published in Swansea. (Whole series available on Microfilm in Swansea Public Library.)


3 The Cambrian Quarterly Magazine.


4 The Carmarthen Journal and Weekly Advertiser for the Principality. Published in Carmarthen.


5 The Glamorgan Monmouth and Brecon Gazette and Merthyr Guardian. Published intermittently at Merthyr and Cardiff. A weekly Newspaper that cost 7d. (including Government Tax of 4d.). At Merthyr, it was printed and Published by Sandford Fox of High Street.


6 The Merthyr and Cardiff Chronicle.


7 Utgorn Cymru (The Trumpet of Wales). A Welsh Chartist Newspaper published at Merthyr, which contains invaluable information about the Chartists in Aberdare.


8 The Welshman.




Some more specialized periodicals included:—


9 The Railway Times.


10 The Railway Standard.


11 The Cardiff and Merthyr Guardian.


12 The Monmouthshire Merlin.


13 The Principality.




The first Newspaper to be published at Aberdare was “Y Gwron Cymreig”, (“The Welsh Hero”). The first issue published at Aberdare was not, however, the first issue of the newspaper. The Editor was the Rev Josiah Thomas Jones, a colourful personality who made a great contribution to Welsh Literature as printer, publisher and author.




The Reverend J.T. Jones


He was born in Pembrokeshire in 1799 and became a minister at Caernarfon in 1828. He resigned his pastorate in 1831 to concentrate full time on printing and publishing.


He moved to Merthyr where he published the Merthyr and Cardiff Chronicle during that year. This was an intensely radical newspaper, which aroused great opposition among the Merthyr Iron-Masters. J.T. Jones left for Cowbridge thence to Carmarthen. He appears to have


re-entered the Ministry in 1838. While at Carmarthen he started editing and publishing


“Y Gwron”. The first issue was dated January 1st 1852. About two years later, he moved to Aberdare and continued to issue “Y Gwron Cymreig” from his new residence. The first issue in


Aberdare was in April 1854. He remained in Aberdare until his death in 1873. From this year


until 1873 there was hardly a journalistic venture with which he was not concerned. Apart from newspapers his most valuable contribution to literature was


‘A Biographical Dictionary of Eminent Welshmen’ in Two Volumes. This work contains some valuable information on Aberdare personalities. Another interesting book of his was entitled ‘Hanes Y Nêf a Daear’. Many prominent Welsh men of letters worked with J.T. Jones from time to time.


The name of the newspaper was reduced to “Y Gwron” and it appeared under this abbreviated title until June 1860. It was published in Commercial Place.


J.T. Jones started a second Welsh Newspaper in Aberdare, ‘Y Gweithiwr’. It was not successful and was eventually amalgamated with ‘Y Gwron’ and the 1st issue of


‘Y Gwron a Gweithiwr’ appeared on Saturday July 1st 1860. In spite of the reduction in price to 1d, (Y Gwron cost 2½d.) the enterprise folded up by the end of the year leaving J.T. Jones in severe financial difficulties. One reason for this was the advent of a new and more successful newspaper under the editorship of Walter Lloyd.


The first reference to Walter Lloyd in connection with Aberdare occurs in the ‘History of Bethania Church’, by John Mills where he states that Walter Lloyd’s name appears on the membership roll. He was then living in Gloucester Street and worked in the printing office of J.T. Jones.


He launched ‘Y Gwladgarwr,’ (The Patriot), a newspaper that occupies an honoured place in Welsh journalism. Published regularly from 1858 to 1882 it was for a period in the 70s the most influential newspaper in South Wales.


It sold 5,000 weekly copies and by 1875, 10,000, and there was hardly a South Wales village in which a copy did not appear. In its early days the newspaper office numbered many future Welsh literary personalities among its compositors e.g. Ieuan Gwyllt.


Walter Lloyd dies but his newspaper had died before him and in the issue of November 3rd 1882 a local newspaper, ‘Y Darian’, edited by John Mills contains its obituary. The Rev John Davies of Saron Aberaman was connected with ‘Gwladgarwr’ in its early days — as assistant editor. He and Dr. Thomas Price also acted as part-time editors of ‘Y Gwron’.


Meanwhile, J.T. Jones had begun to publish a local English Language newspaper and April 6th saw the 1st issue of “The Aberdare Times”. Its full title was ‘The Aberdare Times and Merthyr, Hirwaun, Mountain Ash, Vale of Neath, Rhondda Valley, Cardiff and South Wales General Advertiser’. It proved to be one of the most popular South Wales newspapers.


Saw the publication of the first issue of ‘Y Gwyliedydd’, (‘The Watchman’), a religious monthly periodical published to further Baptist principles with local ministers as editors and chief contributors. Its price was 1d and it was made up of 24 pages (4½ by 6½). Its last issue was dated February 1863 and the Publisher was D.J. Thomas, Cardiff Street, Aberdare. From the 1860s to the end of the century there were published a number of little known periodicals most of which were of a denominational nature and the majority appeared monthly. In spite of their ephemeral character several running for only a few issues, they do indicate intense cultural activity of the time.


Y Winllan, Baptist.


Y Tîr, Undenominational.


Yr Arweinydd, Baptist. Edited by Rev John Jones, published by Jenkin Howell.


Y Medalwr Ieuanc, 1d Monthly, published by Jenkin Howell.


Y Berllan Gymraeg. A few issues only.


Y Gweithiwr Cymreig. A general weekly newspaper, published by Jenkin Howell.


Yr Hauwr. Baptist Monthly for Sunday Schools. Published by Jenkin Howell, very successful.


Ieuenctid Cymru. Edited by D. Silyn Evans. Printed by Gwyddonwy Evans, Gadlys.




The Established Church too had its local publications e.g.


‘The Aberdare, Mountain Ash and St. Fagan’s Gospeller and Parish Magazine.’ Published at Aberdare, monthly Price 1d. It ran from January 1882 to August 1883. It was printed by William Morris, the local Postmaster, and edited by the junior curates of St. Elvan’s Church. The editorial address was Darren House, Clifton Street.


The Banner of Faith.


Aberdare Dawn of Day.




Literary Publications. Newspapers in General, Popular Ballads


Jenkin Howell


He was born at Tor Foel in the Parish of Penderyn on 17th December 1836. His father died on the 22nd July 1841 at the age of 47, leaving Jenkin the youngest but one of six children. The family was in poor circumstances and Jenkin received little formal education. Nevertheless, he read much at home – Afalau’r Awen, Seren Gomer etc. At an early age he was apprenticed to a shoemaker at Pontneddfechan and at 14, he moved to Merthyr to follow his craft. Two years later he moved to Aberdare as a shoemaker in the establishment of Edward Lloyd of Bell Street. Now and later, he took advantage of every educational opportunity available. Ysgol Comin now opened close at hand. Even as late as 1859–60, T. Marchant Williams, who was then a pupil teacher there taught Jenkin Howell in evening classes.


He became a sawyer with his brother-in-law, Jacob Williams, a local contractor.


Because of the trade depression of this year, he decided to move to Cardiff but was dissuaded from doing so by his Minister, Dr. Thomas Price, who persuaded him to try his hand at printing. He then began in the printing works of Daniel Jones Thomas of Cardiff Street, Aberdare, where he helped to start ‘Y Gwyliedydd’.


Jenkin Howell branched out on his own. He set up his press at 16 Commercial Place above what was later Pegler's Shop. From this time until his death in 1902, he remained one of the most important figures in the literary life of Aberdare and a leading Glamorgan publisher.


Among his many publications, probably the most outstanding was ‘Hanes Morgannwg’, by Dafydd Morgannwg in 1874. 528 pages and sold at 10/- a copy. In spite of the heavy cost over 1200 subscribers supported the publication including 450 from the Aberdare valley. (Local colliers’ wages at the time-averaged 30/- a week.)


He also published a biography of Dr. Price by the Rev B. Evans in this year. Furthermore he himself was a prolific writer and a regular contributor to current periodicals including ‘Y Genhinen’, ‘Weekly Mail’, ‘Welsh Gossip’, ‘South Wales Daily News’ and many Welsh Language periodicals including ‘Y Genhinen’, ‘Seren Gomer’ and others.

He was keenly involved in the local Friendly Society Movement and was a member of seven different lodges. He was a noted Eisteddfodwr who won many prizes. His poetic contributions though not insignificant were devoted mainly to topical subjects. One of his poems deserves mention on account of the length of its title “In praise of Miss Gwenllian Morgan of Bailey Hall, Penderyn who won First Prize of £10 and a Gold Medal at the National Buttermaking Competition in the Agricultural Hall, London, in October 1866 and who received her Prize at the hands of Her Majesty Queen Victoria”.

He was also a noted singer — preacher at Calfaria Chapel and a member of Caradog’s famous Côr Mawr, which won fame at the Crystal Palace in 1872–73. In 1877, in conjunction with the Rev James Jones of Abercwmboi and William Harries of Heolyfelin, he published a volume of Congregational Hymn Book based on a new musical system, the Hamiltonian. Physically too, he was outstanding, being over six feet tall (hat size 6 5/8). He died of asthma in


July and is buried in St. Cynog’s Churchyard, Penderyn. Seen DNB.




Two of the foremost Religious Monthlies printed in Aberdare intermittently during the latter half of the 19th century were:—


1 YR YMOFYNNYDD Unitarian Periodical — Edited for a time by R.J. Jones.


Published at Aberdare from March 1873 to February 1879. It then lapsed but after its resumption in September 1881, it carried on until December 1887.


2 SEREN GOMER. A Baptist monthly and the oldest Welsh newspaper in circulation.




One of the more interesting local publications was one that appeared for only a brief period, “GWREICHION”, (Sparks), edited by John Lewis, (Ap Gwalia). It was the first attempt to produce a popular Welsh monthly magazine. It appeared on the 15th of each month, consisted of 16 pages, and the first issue appeared on January 15th 1893, printed and published for the Gwreichion Magazine Company by Mills and Evans of Cardiff Street. Unfortunately, the venture lasted for only six months. It contained cartoons caricaturing the leading religious, industrial and political figures of the day. Also included were short stories, feature articles, discussions on household management, correspondence columns, poets corner, occasional serious articles, (Advantages of the Party System in Politics). Its advertisements were drawn from Aberdare, Merthyr, and Rhondda Valleys.






The newspaper grew out of the early newsletter, which was very expensive, and therefore, more or less confined to the wealthier classes. The Printing Act of 1663 had confined printing to Oxford, Cambridge and London. In 1695, the Act expired and in 1696 the first printing works near Wales was established at Shrewsbury. For many years, the “London Gazette” remained the only official newspaper. Welsh Periodical Literature began with “The Cambrian” in 1804, followed by the “Carmarthen Journal” in 1810. By the Act of 1797, Stamp Duty of 3½d per copy was imposed on newspapers and this was increased to 4d in 1815. Progress was further retarded by an advertisement duty of 3/6 per item advertised. “The Cambrian” overcame the difficulty by filling 40% of its space with advertisements. ‘Seren Gomer’ failed temporarily because it was unable to attract a sufficient number. News items were taken from the “London Gazette”. In 1855, the Stamp Duty was repealed. Newspapers should be used initially in the study of Local History. Quality of reportage varies. Nevertheless, they are important for:—



Accounts of Meetings


Sales and Advertisements


Schools Advertisements


Agricultural Prices


Advertisements of Land for Development Purposes


Accounts of Explosions in mines before 1850


Reports of Annual Dinners, speeches by Local Coalowners, etc.


Publication of Accounts by Clerks of the Peace


Friendly Society Reports


Information about Local Churches and Chapels.