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National Library of Wales

John Thomas (Pencerdd Gwalia) Manuscripts

Reference code(s): GB 0210 MSJTHOMAS

Held at: National Library of Wales

Title: John Thomas (Pencerdd Gwalia) Manuscripts

Short title: Thomas, John, 'Pencerdd Gwalia', manuscripts

Dates of creation: 1830-1930

Level of description: Fonds

Extent and medium: 53 volumes

Name of creator(s): John Thomas (Pencerdd Gwalia); Joan Frances Thomas.


Administrative and biographical history: John Thomas (Pencerdd Gwalia, 1826-1913), harpist, was born on St David's Day 1826 in Bridgend, Glamorgan. At the age of twelve, he won the prize of a new triple-strung harp at the 1838 Abergavenny National Eisteddfod. From 1840 to 1846, sponsored by Ada, Lady Lovelace, Thomas studied at the Royal College of Music. During the 1850s he gave concerts throughout Europe. From 1850 to 1910 he published over two hunded works, including editions of harp works by Handel, Spohr and Mozart, and four volumes of his own Welsh Melodies for harp and voice (1857, 1862, 1870, 1874). From 1862 Thomas promoted some forty annual concerts of Welsh music, which included large choral sounds and multiple harps. At the National Eisteddfod of Aberdare in 1861 he was invested with the title 'Pencerdd Gwalia'. In 1871 Thomas succeeded to the post of professor at the Royal Academy of Music and the following year was appointed harpist-in-ordinary (and, in 1885, musician-in-ordinary) to the queen; following Victoria's death in 1901 he continued as harpist to Edward VII. Thomas married Alice Ann Keate (1855-1880) in 1878; he married his second wife, Joan Frances Denny (1849-1926) in 1885; both were former pupils of his. He gave his last concert on 17 June 1905 and died 19 March 1913.


Scope and content: Papers, 1830-1930, of or relating to John Thomas (Pencerdd Gwalia), including original musical manuscripts, mainly compositions and arrangements for the harp, 1853-1905; correspondence mainly relating to his concerts, compositions and travels, and to musical circles in London and Wales, 1842-1930; journals of European concert tours, 1851-1883; concert programmes, 1851-1905; papers of his wife, Joan Frances Thomas, 1878-1926, including tour journals, 1878-1883; and passports of John and Joan Thomas, 1873, 1885.


Language/script: English, Welsh, French, German, Italian, Russian.

System of arrangement: Arranged according to NLW MSS reference numbers: NLW MSS 19118-19147, 21822D, 23389-23409, 23795A.

Conditions governing access: Readers consulting modern papers in the National Library of Wales are required to abide by the conditions set out in information provided when applying for their Readers' Tickets, whereby the reader shall become responsible for compliance with the Data Protection Act 1998 in relation to any processing by them of personal data obtained from modern records held at the Library.

Conditions governing reproduction: Usual copyright laws apply.

Finding aids: Descriptions of NLW MSS 19118-19146 are also available in the NLW typescript list Manuscripts of John Thomas ('Pencerdd Gwalia') (1950). The contents of NLW MS 21822D is indexed in greater detail in Handlist of Manuscripts in the National Library of Wales, vol. 8 (Aberystwyth, 1999). The contents of NLW MSS 23389-23409 are indexed in greater detail in Handlist of Manuscripts in the National Library of Wales, vol. 9 (Aberystwyth, 2003).
Detailed catalogue


Immediate source of acquisition: Donated by Lt-Gen. Sir G. Ivor Thomas, Bushey Heath, 1950 (NLW MSS 19118-19146); purchased from Mr Philip Fitzhugh [?Styben], Washington, October 1965 (NLW MS 19147E); purchased at auction (lot 546) at Phillips, London, 10 June 1982 (NLW MS 21822D); donated by the British Library, London, March 1995 (NLW MSS 23389-23409); donated by Mrs Mary Grindley, Mottingham, London, 1999 (NLW MS 23795A).


Related units of description: See also NLW MSS 19764-71E which contain autograph and holograph manuscripts of John Thomas. Newspaper cuttings and other items donated with NLW MSS 23389-23409 are NLW ex 1678; photographs and an album of pencil drawings and water-colours by Joan Thomas are now NLW Photo Album 2115 and NLW Drawing Volume 485 (8vo) respectively.


Note: Title based on contents.

Archivist's note: Description compiled by Bethan Ifans for the retrospective conversion project of NLW MSS and revised by Rhys Morgan Jones. The following sources were used in the compilation of this description: Handlist of Manuscripts in the National Library of Wales, Volume 8 (Aberystwyth, 1999); Handlist of Manuscripts in the National Library of Wales, Volume 9 (Aberystwyth, 2003); Y Bywgraffiadur Cymreig hyd at 1940 (London, 1953); Oxford Dictionary of National Biography WWW site, viewed 21 April 2009.

Rules or conventions: This description follows ANW guidelines based on ISAD(G) second edition, AACR2, and LCSH.

Date(s) of description: April 2009 and June 2012



Harp and piano music

Harp music

Harp music (Harps (2))

Harp with orchestra

Thomas, Joan Frances, | 1849-1926 | Archives

Thomas, John, | 1826-1913 | Archives

Personal names

Thomas, Joan Frances, 1849-1926

Thomas, John, 1826-1913

Corporate names