Thomas Stephens (historian)

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Thomas Stephens (21 April 1821 – 4 January 1875) was a Welsh apothecary, historian and critic. He was born at Pont Nedd Fechan, Glamorganshire, the son of a shoemaker. His works include The Literature of the Kymry (1849), The History of Trial by Jury in Wales, and an essay in which he demolished the claim of the Welsh under Madoc to the discovery of the Americas. [1] He also wrote on the life and works of the bard Aneurin, and produced an English translation of Y Gododdin . The critical methods that he adopted in his works often made him unpopular with the less discriminating enthusiasts for the glory of Wales, but he earned the respect of serious scholars.

Madoc, also spelled Madog, ab Owain Gwynedd was, according to folklore, a Welsh prince who sailed to America in 1170, over three hundred years before Christopher Columbus's voyage in 1492. According to the story, he was a son of Owain Gwynedd, and took to the sea to flee internecine violence at home. The "Madoc story" legend evidently evolved out of a medieval tradition about a Welsh hero's sea voyage, to which only allusions survive. However, it attained its greatest prominence during the Elizabethan era, when English and Welsh writers wrote of the claim that Madoc had come to the Americas as an assertion of prior discovery, and hence legal possession, of North America by the Kingdom of England.

Bard professional poet in medieval Gaelic and British culture

In medieval Gaelic and British culture, a bard was a professional story teller, verse-maker, music composer, oral historian and genealogist, employed by a patron, to commemorate one or more of the patron's ancestors and to praise the patron's own activities.

Aneirin[aˈnɛirɪn] or Neirin was an early Medieval Brythonic poet. He is believed to have been a bard or court poet in one of the Cumbric kingdoms of the Hen Ogledd, probably that of Gododdin at Edinburgh, in modern Scotland. From the 17th century, his name was often incorrectly spelled "Aneurin".

Thomas Stephens' manuscripts are now part of the National Library of Wales General Manuscript Collection. [2]

The General Manuscript Collection of the National Library of Wales includes three series of manuscripts: NLW Manuscript series; NLW ex series of Manuscripts; and, NLW Rolls. All manuscripts acquired by the Library through either donation or purchase are added to this open-ended series, either singly or in groups, if they are: a) in a format compatible with the collection, i.e. manuscript books or rolls, or unbound material that can be filed; and, b) not integral to an archive or individual collection. There is, however, much archival material, mostly correspondence, held in the General Manuscripts Collection. The holdings in the General Manuscript Collection are catalogued in the Handlist of manuscripts in the National Library of Wales, which focuses on those manuscripts in the National Library which are not part of the foundation collections; there were over fifteen thousand when the first volume of the handlist appeared in 1940, and the collection had increased to 23,233 by 31 March 1994.

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  1. "The Invention of Tradition", Prys Morgan
  2. National Library of Wales (1943). Handlist of Manuscripts in the National Library of Wales, Volume I. Aberystwyth: National Library of Wales.