Thomas Evans was born in a cottage on the Netpool on 8 September 1840. Thomas jr. (or Ossos at this time) was the youngest of 4 sons to Thomas senior (or Twm Pwll y witch) – a ship’s carpenter and Elisabeth (Beti’r Bwthyn) his wife.
Thomas junior received little formal education but he was keen on learning and culture. When he was 11 years old he had to contribute to the family income and went to work on one of the ships which sailed between Cardigan and other Welsh ports. It is said that he had a hard time by his workmates and he decided to run away when the ship was berthed in Milford Haven. With little money he went to Glamorganshire and settled in Cwmbach, Aberdare. He ended up down the pits. Soon his parents joined him in Aberdare. In his spare time he studied literature, poetry and music. He had a sweet voice and a good grasp of music. He studied under Dafydd Morganwg’s Poetry School.
He received his first eisteddfod trophy when he was 15 in a literature competition in the Baptist Chapel, Cwmbach.for a pryddest on Humility. After this he won 18 prizes in different eisteddfodau and competitive meetings. He won fame with his ‘Blodeuyn bach wyf fi mewn gardd’ (I am a little garden flower’) which he wrote on Traeth yr Odyn beach Gwbert, when he suffered from TB.
He was also famous for his pryddest ‘The River’ (Ffynnon Taf Eisteddfod), and his songs ‘Jesus on his own’ and ‘Consumption’.
He suffered greatly during the last 6 years of his short life as can be seen from letters he wrote to Dafydd Morganwg:
10 November 1864: This old earthen vessel is still in poor shape, so that I can hardly move out of the house., but I am as happy as one can be under the circumstance.’
Another time: I cannot compose anything now, I am getting poorer fast. I am suited today to keep company with those in Ezecial’s Vale. I am thinking of going to Llanwrtyd next week to stay awhile to see if the springs will be benefit me.
22 November 1864: I have been working a little recently and that in an unhealthy atmosphere, so I am in the house ill now since a fortnight. Indeed I almost believe that there is no improvement possible anymore. I am almost giving up all hope.He was very ill when he composed the pryddest on the destruction of the Alabama.
‘I don’t know how to treat my illness and compose the Alabama. I wouldn’t think of this only for your encouragement.’
He visited Merthyr Eisteddfod in 1864 and received the prize and high accolades for his pryddest.
From then on until his death he seldom left the house, such was his decline and the unfavourable weather. He was confined to bed for the last fortnight or three weeks of his life. He died 29 April 1865 at the early age of 25. He was buried in Aberdare Cemetery.
When he died he was regarded as one of the most promising poets of Wales. If he had lived on who knows Netpool might today be celebrating a chief bard.
His main works:
- Albert Dda (winner at the United Baptist Eisteddfod at Aberdare, 1862).
- Ardalydd Bute (joint winner with Gwilym Elian, Caerffili, May, 1863).
- Cân y Chwain (cân ddigri) (winner at Glynnedd Eisteddfod, Christmas, 1863)
- Cân y Fodrwy Briodasol (a potential winner at Aberystwyth National Eistedddfod , 1865)
- ‘I have fallen in love with the text and in order to savehastle to others who are bound to compete I have decided to publish my poem. It was published aome months before Aberystwyth Eisteddfod.
- Chwech englyn unodl union, cyrch gymeriad, ar farwolaeth D. Williams,Sulgwyn, 1864).
- Dic Shon Dafydd (winner at Brecon Eisteddfod, June, 1864).
- Dinistr yr Alabama (pryddest), winner at Merthyr Eisteddfod, 1864
- Dyffryn Aberdar (englynion) (winner in a competition in y Gwladgarwr, 1862).
- Elen Glan Teifi (rhinagerdd) (winner in Ffynnon Taf Eisteddfod).
- Gostyneiddrwydd (pryddest) (winner at the United Baptist Eisteddfod at Aberdare, Christmas, 1860)
- I flwch casglu Tabernacl, Pontypridd (winner in the United Eisteddfod at Pontypridd, Whitsun, 1862).
- Marchnad caws Caerphili (cân ddigri) (winner in Caerffili Eisteddfod Sept., 1863).
- Pa beth sydd i’w wneyd o’r hen ferched? (Cân ddigri) (winner in Pontypridd Eisteddfod, Whitsun, 1862).
- Rhyddhad y carcharorion (englynion) (winner in Troedyrhiw, Christmas, 1863).
- Trachwant (winner in Caerffili, Sept, 1863).
- Tymmer Ddrwg (pryddest) (winner in Swansea Eisteddfod in 1861).
- Y Diweddar Barch, Daniel Jones, Tongwynlais (winner in the United Eisteddfod, Pontypridd, 1863).
- Y Lloer (winner in Pontardawe, Christmas, 1862).
- Ymdrech a gwladgarwch y Pwyliaid i gyrhaedd eu hanibyniaeth (joint winner with D. Morganwg, in Eisteddfod y Porth, Glynrhondda, Good Friday, 1864).
- Yr Afon (pryddest), winner at Ffynnon Taf, Eisteddfod .
UNVEILING THE PLAQUE
On 11 March 1927 a plaque was unveiled in memory of Telynog and Ossian Dyfed at the entrance to Eben’s Lane. This was the idea of E. Walter Rees (Gwallter Dyfi). He was the Keeper of the ceremonial sword in the Gorsedd of the Bards while the manager of Cardigan’s Barclays Bank and the secretary of the local Cymmrodorion. The Town Council refused permission to erect the plaque on any of the town’s public buildings but J. C. Roberts, the newsagent came to the rescue and gave permission to place the plaque on the side wall of his shop in Eben’s Lane. The kind offer was gratefully accepted. The white marble and black lettering was the work of Messrs. Thos. Jenkins ans Son, Glenview.
It was a beautiful day and a large crowd attended to witness the simple ceremony by Elfed (Revd. Elfed Lewis, King’s Cross, London).
Everyone collected in Capel Mair and marched up through Priory Street and High Street towards Eben’s Lane. Children from the local primary schools were also present.
Gwallter Dyfi presided and proceedings began with singing ‘Cofia’n Gwlad’ on the tune ‘Wyddgrug’. William Thomas, Carningli was the precentor. Revd T. Esger James (chairman of the Cymmrodorion) offered a prayer and Elfed was then called to unveil the plaque.
Elfed said it was a big day in Cardigan. They were honouring two people who had died but were yet still alive. What they were doing in Cardigan that day was a pattern for other towns and villages in Wales in order to keep alive the memory of those who had served their country. It was also a lesson and an inspiration to the children and hope that the ceremony would live in the memory and be an influence for good.
The hymn ‘Wedi oesoedd maith o d’wyllwch’ on the tune Blaencefn was sung and the ceremony came to an end with a prayer by Revd D. Moses Davies, St Dogmaels (in the absence of Revd E. J. Lloyd, Capel Degwel because of illness).
The action then moved over to the Netpool:
A procession was formed and all walked over to the Netpool where another crowd had gathered. The chairman was again the Revd E. Walter Rees and ‘Marchog Iesu yn llwyddiannus’ was sung. It was then the turn of the children to sing ‘Ymdaith Cadben Morgan’ under the baton of John Evans (mayor).
Another speech from the Archdruid and another song from the children ‘Llwyn Onn’, and a singing party under Tom Evans, Avondale: ‘Blodeuyn bach wyf fi mewn gardd’ to a composition by Gwilym Gwent.
Revd T. Esger James thanked Walter Rees and the Revd David Morgan (ill in Cardigan hospital at the time) and Conwyson Roberts. Then everyone went back to the Black Lion for tea:
Elfed, Revd J D Evans; Revd T.Esger James; Mayor John Evans; Revd J Morgan (Aberdar); Revd T J Rees (Trewyddel); Revd D Evans (Drewen); Revd Gwilym Morris (Penuel, Cemaes); Revd T. Lloyd (Llechryd); Revd J Price (Ferwig); Revd W H Jones (Gerazim); Revd J Thomas (Penybryn); Revd Eynon Morris (Penganm); Revd D Moses Davies (Llandudoch); Revd Dan Adams (Llechryd); Messrs J T Evans (Pearl), sec.; J E Jones (Stafford Ho); Wm Thomas, Carningli; J Conwyson Roberts, L Oswald Jones (NP bank ); Cllr Samuel Young MA, D T Davies, JP, (Henllys); D Lewis Jones (Barclays), W R Jones, MA (County school).
CELEBRATING THE CENTENARY OF HIS BIRTH
Roughly 100 years(?) after the poet’s birth a special night was held at the Tabernacle: Wednesday March 1966.
An evening under the patronage of the town’s Cymmrodorion: The chairman was W. R. Jones, MA vice president due to the absence of Enoch Thomas, BA, president.
Order of appearance:
- Revd Gomer Roberts MA was the presenter:
- Yfory Sion Crydd – Parti Ysgol y Preseli
- Pa beth sydd i’w wneud â Hen Ferched? –David Davies
- Yr Haf –Côr Ysgol Sir Aberteifi
- Detholiad o englynion – Bechgyn yr ardal
- Cân y Chwain – Teifryn Rees
- Gwenno Fwyn Gu – Parti cyd-adrodd YS Aberteifi
- Cywydd Y Lloer – Parti Cerdd Dant Ysgol Preseli
- Pan ddaeth y gath o’r cwdyn – Elfyn Owen
- Fy Nghariad – Teifryn Rees
- Gostyngeiddrwydd –local girls
- Gwynfi Jenkins recited Crwys’ eulogy to Telynog
- Côr YS Aberteifi Blodeuyn Bach wyf fi mewn gardd
Thanks were given by Jacob Jones, Llechryd and seconded by Revd D. Osborne Thomas, BA BD.