A History of Daniel James 'Gwyrosydd

Daniel James was born on 23rd January 1848, in a thatched cottage situated in Llangyfelach Road, Treboeth. Surprisingly for someone who is known as an international literary genius Daniel received very little schooling. His little education was held at a local circulating school, sadly his education ended when his father passed away at a young age. This personal tragedy Daniel James was forced into full time employment as he assumed the position as 'bread-winner'. 

Daniel became a puddler at the Morriston Dyffryn steel works and later moving to Landore tinplate works. It was during this period that he mastered the intricasies of Welsh poetry and in 1885 took the bardic name of Gwyrosydd meaning 'Man of the Moors'. This is an obvious reference to Treboeth which at the time would have consisted of largely moorland. By popular consensus its meaning is 'Truth will stand'. 

 

Daniel James married twice first in 1871 to Ann Hopkin and then again in 1888 to Gwenllian Parry, he fathered five children and then took on a further five step children, he also had a further two children with his second wife Gwenny. 

 

Daniel James' reputation always suffered from the common knowledge surrounding his preference for alcohol and often excessive drinking. He was often referred to as being the 'bad boy' of Mynyddbach Chapel at the time. 

 

Daniel often frequented the King's Head public house where he would sit in his unusually high chair composing and exchanging verses amongst friends and admirers in exchange for glasses of ale, this has come to be known affectionately as 'Poems for pints'.

When the Landore tinplate works closed in 1980 he moved to the Cynon Valley where he worked in the Tredegar, Dowlais and Cwmgarw mines. 

Gwyrosydd composed the words of Calon Lan in 1891 allegedly on the back of cigarette packet while living in Blaengarw. 

Daniel James' powerful words were first put to a tune by Thomas Bedford Richards, however the most popular tune which is sang internationally was penned by John Hughes. 

In Daniel's failing health he left the mines in 1916 and was appointed to a job within the council.

In 1918 at the age of 71 Daniel was living on a relatively standard weekly pension of 7s 6d. Daniel returned to live in Morriston with his daughter Olwen Longstaff. He died on the 16th of March 1920 aged 73 and is buried in Mynyddbach Chapel cemetery, with his first wife Ann and his son William. 

In 1936 a bronze plaque was unveiled in his memory at the Treboeth public Hall. 

In 1953 Gwyrosydd Primary School was opened to accommodate 520 infant and junior pupils.

 

 

Maintained by Sam Pritchard on behalf of the Calon Lan Society 
CalonLanSociety@yahoo.com 
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