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Welsh Bibles collection (16th-19th C.)


Almost every edition of the Bible published in Welsh or published in Wales is included, as well as the Book of Common Prayer, the Psalms, etc., when separately published. The first work is dated 1567, and the collection includes modern versions of the Bible in Welsh also.

The oldest work is an original but incomplete copy of William Salesbury’s 1567 translation of the New Testament. Important not only for being the first Welsh version of Scripture, the 1567 New Testament is notable for Salesbury’s idiosyncratic orthography and Richard Davies’ lengthy introductory letter to the people of Wales. In his address, Davies, the Bishop of St David’s, argues that the Protestant religion will restore to the Welsh people their ancient Church, unsullied by Rome. The 1567 Book of Common Prayer and Psalter, to which Salesbury also contributed, is available in facsimile. William Morgan’s hugely influential 1588 Welsh translation of the complete Bible is held in both original and facsimile form. Other versions of the Welsh Bible in the Collection include: Richard Parry and Dr John Davies’s 1620 revision of Morgan’s Bible; the 1630 ‘Beibl Bach’, the first popular edition of the Welsh Bible; a 1647 New Testament often regarded as being the first translated for Nonconformists; Moses Williams’ Bible of 1717, the first Welsh Bible to be published by the S.P.C.K.; Peter Williams’ 1770 Bible, the first Welsh Bible to be published with a commentary and the first to be published in Wales; and a bilingual New Testament published in 1831 which contains the Welsh and English texts in parallel columns. Modern versions include: a revision of the 1620 Bible published in 1955; a New Testament of 1975 which offered a completely new translation from the Greek text rather than a revision of earlier translations; and the New Welsh Bible of 1988, which also returned to Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek texts to provide a new translation of the entire Bible in contemporary language.

Of great significance is the collection’s copy of Cyd-gordiad egqyddorawl o’r scrythurau (1730). This is the earliest concordance to be printed in Welsh, and the second Welsh book printed in the USA. The Collection’s copy is complete and in the original American calf binding.

A range of Bibles published in other Celtic languages is also held. The Collection includes: a copy of the 2011 Cornish Bible; several editions of the New Testament and Bible in Breton, such as a copy of the first printing of the New Testament into Breton, by Le Gonidec, revised by Rev. T. Price (Carnhuanawc of Crickhowell); an 1819 edition of the Manx Bible and a late 20th century Manx Family Bible; Scottish Gaelic New Testaments and Bibles, including a 1783 translation of the Old Testament from the Hebrew prepared under the auspices of the Scottish S.P.C.K.  An Irish Old Testament in the Collection is inscribed with a lengthy note by E. C. Quiggin which describes the provenance of this copy. The inscription claims it is one of 200 copies sent to Scotland by the Hon. Robert Boyle, son of the Earl of Cork, in 1688 for the use of Highland clergy (of which possibly only 80 were actually distributed and few are known to have survived).  

Date range:  1567-current

Significance: Significant in Wales and the United Kingdom

Size: c. 400 volumes

Languages:  Welsh, English, Cornish, Breton, Manx, Scots Gaelic, Irish Gaelic

Keywords:  Bible, Wales, New Testament, Celtic languages

Notes: The Welsh Bibles Collection if completed by the English Bibles collection, of similar size and scope, plus a range of Bibles in other European languages.