September 2021


Online event to celebrate the Father of Black presence in North West Wales

Saturday 18 September 2021, 10:00–12:00

ISWE is pleased to be partnering with Race Council Cymru to organise a special online event as part of Black History Cymru 365 .

The aim of the BHC365 programme is to deliver informative, creative and celebratory events which acknowledge the contributions made by people of African and African-Caribbean descent to local, national and world history and culture, all year round. Everyone, irrespective of ethnicity or colour, is invited to take part in events.

On Saturday, 18th September we will be hosting an event focusing on John Ystumllyn (d.1786), one of the earliest-recorded Black people in north Wales.

John is closely associated with the Ystumllyn estate in Criccieth. We know so much about his life thanks to a biography published by Robert Isaac Jones (Alltud Eifion, 1813-1905) in 1888. It is suggested a member of the Wynn family of Ystumllyn kidnapped John in Africa or the West Indies and brought him back to the estate in Criccieth, where John was baptised and eventually worked as a gardener. In 1768 John married Margaret Gruffydd, one of the maids at Ystumllyn, and they had seven children. John also worked on the Maesyneuadd estate and was eventually provided with a thatched cottage at Nanhyran by Ellis Wynn in recognition of his service to the Ystumllyn family. John died in 1786 and was buried at Ynyscynhaearn churchyard, his gravestone inscribed with an englyn. His published biography suggests much about his life as a Black person in north west Wales, reactions to his presence in the community and his experiences in Welsh society.

The event will include a mix of informative talks, creative responses and group discussions on John Ystumllyn’s legacy as Black person living in north Wales.

Confirmed speakers include:

Zehra Zaidi, an international development specialist with an interest in John Ystumllyn

Natalie Jones, a Welsh teacher and S4C presenter of Jamaican descent, whose family moved to live in Pwllheli when she was aged 9 

Audrey West, a visual artist originally from Jamaica, who moved from London to Wales in 2017 to pursue her creative interests

Dr Gareth Jones Evans, Lecturer in Religious Studies at Bangor University, whose research interests include the Bible, slavery and religious print culture in nineteenth-century Wales

You are warmly welcome to join this free online event on Saturday, 18th September 2021, 10am-12 noon.

The event will take place on zoom.

Please contact | for further details.

The event is kindly sponsored by the Arts Councill of Wales.

To find out more about John Ystumllyn see Ffion Mair Jones’ article published in the Dictionary of Welsh Biography: