Writers’ memorial, Llansannan
This memorial names five sons of Llansannan who made significant contributions to Welsh literature.
William Salesbury (c.1520-c.1584) is regarded as the leading Welsh intellectual of his time. At a critical time in British history, he laid the foundations for the Welsh language’s long-term survival. He was born in Llansannan and lived most of his life in Llanrwst. He studied at Oxford and developed a zeal for giving his countrymen the materials to study and worship through their own language. In 1547 Salesbury published an English-Welsh dictionary, possibly the first Welsh-language book ever printed. He also published a book of Welsh proverbs.
He is best known today as the main translator, from 1563 to 1567, of the first Welsh New Testament and Book of Common Prayer. He was aided by Bishop Richard Davies, who lived in the Bishop’s Palace, Carmarthen. The pair began to translate the Old Testament but were said to have stopped when they couldn’t agree over the translation of one word. The full Bible became available in Welsh in 1588 after translation by Bishop William Morgan, who grew up near Penmachno and worshipped at the local church. All three men feature on the translators' memorial in St Asaph.
Tudur Aled (c.1480-1526) was a master of the strict rules for Welsh poetry. He wandered around Wales, penning verses of praise to powerful or religious men. He co-founded the Caerwys eisteddfod in 1524 with the express aim of bringing order and control to Welsh bards and their craft. One of his main patrons was Sir Rhys ap Thomas, chief supporter of Henry Tudor’s successful campaign to take the throne as King Henry VII.
Henry Rees (1798-1869) was a renowned Calvinistic Methodist minister. Such was the demand for his sermons that he moved to Liverpool in 1836 and visited the USA in 1839 and Berlin in 1857. He often wrote for periodicals, and two volumes of his sermons were published. He died at Benarth, Conwy.
Gwilym Hiraethog was the bardic name of William Rees (1802-1883), brother of Henry. He was a prolific poet. In Liverpool in 1843, he founded the first successful Welsh newspaper, called Yr Amserau (“The times”), which later merged with Y Faner. His radical writings kindled Wales’ political self-awareness, which eventually led to the establishment in 1999 of Wales’ own government and Senedd.
Iorwerth Glan Aled was the bardic name of Methodist preacher Edward Roberts (1819-1867). He wrote for periodicals and published booklets on various subjects including history, literature and religion.