Welcome to the history of St. Asaph
The Cathedral - Parish Church - Translators - The Legend of Bishop Asaph - Alms Houses


In the grounds of the Cathedral at St. Asaph stands a memorial to the translators of the Welsh Bible in which, during the 16th century, William Morgan (later to become Bishop of St. Asaph from 1601 to 1604) a crucial part in ensuring the survival of the written Welsh language.

An Act of Parliament in 1563 was passed to allow the translation of the Bible and the Book of Prayer into Welsh "because the English tongue is not understood of the most and greatest number of all her majesty's most living and obedient subject inhabiting Wales". This shows that it was the vitality of the Welsh language, not its weakness which called for a Welsh Bible.

During William Morgan's time at St. John's College, Cambridge (c.1567-1571) where he acquired his B.A and M.A., Bishop Richard Davies and Williams Salesbury had translated and published the New Testament and Book of Common Prayer. By 1578, Davies and Salesbury had fallen out over their work and William, by now Rector of Llanrhaeadr-ym-Mochnant in the Tanat Valley, was encouraged to undertake the work by the Bishops of St. Asaph and Bangor.

He took his Doctor of Divinity degree in 1583 and, in 1587 he went to London to supervise the printing of the first Welsh Bible. This consisted of his own translation of the Old Testament and a revised version of Salesbury's New Testament. The cost of publishing was paid for by Archbishop Whitgift, the Archbishop of Canterbury. While William was in London he stayed with Gabriel Goodman, Dean of Westminster, a famous son of the town of Ruthin and a fellow Welshman. In 1588, the same year as the Spanish Armada was overthrown, 800 copies of the Welsh Bible were printed.

William Morgan however, although Bishop of St. Asaph, "died a poor man" at the age of 57 in the ruined palace on the 10th of September 1604. He was buried the next day in the Cathedral under the High Altar near the site of the present Bishop's seat.
A copy of William Morgan's Bible is kept in the Cathedral.

For more information about the Translators click here.