The Bishop who translated the Bible into Welsh in 1588, and so helped to keep the Welsh language alive
Bishop William Morgan is best known as the translator of the Bible into Welsh. The date of his translation, 1588, is as ingrained on the memories of Welsh school children as is 1066 for their English counterparts. The translation of the Bible into the Welsh language is believed today to be a major historical factor in its preservation, helping it to survive to the present day.
Born at Tŷ Mawr Wybrnant, near Penmachno, in 1545, William Morgan was very fortunate to receive a good education. His father was a tenant of the Gwydir estate near Llanrwst, and William received his education alongside the Wynn family of Gwydir. William Morgan went on to attend St John’s College, Cambridge. He was ordained as a clergyman of the Church of England in 1568, and moved to Llanrhaeadr ym Mochnant in 1578.
In this small northern Montgomeryshire village, nestling under the southern slopes of the Berwyn Mountains, Morgan became aware of William Salesbury’s translation of the New Testament in 1567. He determined in turn to translate the whole of the Bible into Welsh, including a revision of the New Testament.
Morgan’s childhood home of Tŷ Mawr Wybrnant, now owned by the National Trust, is open to the public. The village of Llanrhaeadr ym Mochnant has two memorials to William Morgan – a plaque on the churchyard wall and a wooden carving outside the community centre.