Mostyn Manuscripts

The National Library of Wales houses the largest and finest collection of manuscripts which once formed part of the library at Mostyn Hall, Flintshire. Among our 77 Mostyn volumes, - all of them owned by the Library, - are some items collected at Gloddaith by Sir Thomas Mostyn (1651-92), and at the other family libraries of Bodysgallen and Corsygedol. 

Highlights of the collection include:

Acquisition history

The main group of Mostyn manuscripts was acquired by the Library from Mostyn Hall in 1918, as a gift from Mr A. Cecil Wright of Brandwood House, near Birmingham. They are now NLW MSS 3021-76, and correspond to that collection described by J. Gwenogvryn Evans for the Royal Commission on Historical Manuscripts in the first volume of his Report on Manuscripts in the Welsh Language (London, 1898) [a marked copy of that volume in the Library’s reading room gives current shelf marks for the manuscripts].

Following this 1918 acquisition, it does not appear that the National Library purchased any items at the Mostyn public sales at Sotheby’s in March 1919 (early English plays), April 1920 (printed books) and July 1920 (illuminated and other manuscripts).

Another group of 17 Mostyn manuscripts, - including four medieval manuscripts, - was bought by the National Library at the Mostyn sale at Christie’s on 24 October 1974, and are now NLW MSS 21238-54 (these are fully described in the typescript schedule of 1975 in the Library’s reading room).

They include:

Printed books were also purchased by the Library at the three October 1974 Mostyn sales, and they are listed in another schedule in our reading room. A few strays from both the Mostyn sales of 1920 and 1974 were later acquired by the Library, and are also incorporated in the NLW MSS series.

They are:

The National Library of Wales continues to seek Mostyn manuscripts for occasional acquisition, as and when they become available on the open market.

A mid-17th century manuscript of Welsh poetry, formerly owned by a branch of the Mostyn family at Talacre, Flintshire was purchased by the Library in 1976. This is now NLW MS 21582E, and is catalogued in some detail in a typescript schedule (1977) in the Library’s reading room.

Access conditions

Many of the Mostyn manuscripts are labelled ‘Restricted access’ in our catalogue. This means that a surrogate copy is available, and that readers are directed to use the copy in the first instance, for preservation reasons. Application may then be made in our reading room for access to the original manuscript, if necessary.

Resources elsewhere

The main body of papers comprising the Mostyn Archive is deposited by the Estate at Bangor University Archives. Other Mostyn Estate records are held by Flintshire Record Office.

Further reading

  • Dafydd Ifans, ‘Pedair llawysgrif Gymraeg o Fostyn’, The National Library of Wales Journal, 19 (1975-6), pp. 209-216 [a discussion, in Welsh, of NLW MSS 21248D, 21249B, 21250B and 21252B]
  • Dafydd Ifans, ‘Llawysgrif barddoniaeth teulu Mostyn Talacre’, The National Library of Wales Journal, 20 (1977-8), pp. 207-208 [a discussion, in Welsh, of NLW MS 21582E].
  • Daniel Huws, ‘Sir Thomas Mostyn and the Mostyn Manuscripts’, in his Medieval Welsh Manuscripts (Cardiff & Aberystwyth, 2000), pp. 303-329.

MOSTYN 100!

During the second half of 2018, The National Library of Wales will be celebrating the centenary of the acquisition of its initial tranche of manuscripts from Mostyn Hall. An exhibition in the Library’s Hengwrt Gallery from June-December will show-case items from the Library’s collection, together with some items which remain at Mostyn Hall, treasures which will be shown here for a limited time. Planned associated events include an academic conference and a series of talks relating to all things Mostyn.

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