Oswestry & Border History & Archaeology Group OBHAG Member Derek Williams
Llwyd Mansion at the junction of Bailey Street and Cross Street will be familiar to most Oswestrians, even though the building is sometimes wrongly called Llwyn Mansion. Less well known, perhaps, will be the fact that it once belonged to the Lloyds of Llanforda Hall, a rebuild of which until the late 1940s stood on the western outskirts of Oswestry. It was into this old-established, Welsh-border family that the famous botanist, antiquary and philologist Edward Lhuyd was born in about 1660.
Educated at Oswestry School and Jesus College, Oxford, Lhuyd adopted the Welsh form of the family’s surname from about 1688, a year after he was appointed Assistant Keeper of the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford.
As his reputation grew, he became Keeper and contributed to a new edition of Camden’s Britannia before undertaking a four-year research tour of Wales, Scotland, Ireland, Cornwall and Brittany between 1697 and 1701.
Returning to his post in Oxford, he devoted the remainder of his relatively short life to preparing the vast amount of material he had assembled for an ambitious four-part natural and human history of Wales and the other Celtic-speaking peoples of Britain, Ireland and Brittany – his Archaeologia Britannica. Of this, just one volume – the Glossography of 1707 – was published and Lhuyd died in Oxford on 30 June, 1709.
Edward Lhuyd’s footprint in Oswestry was light, to say the least. Llwyd Mansion bears both the family’s name and the arms of the House of Austria (a double-headed eagle), which his ancestor Meurig Lloyd was granted the right to use after rescuing the emperor’s colours during the Crusades. Just inside the door of Oswestry Visitor and Exhibition Centre is a sketch by the late Millicent Kaye of the only known likeness of Lhuyd, while in 2009 Oswestry and District Civic Society published Edward Lhuyd 1660-1709: A Shropshire Welshman.
Further afield, a bust of Lhuyd may be seen outside the Centre for Advanced Welsh and Celtic Studies in Aberystwyth, and the Natural History Society of Wales bears the name Cymdeithas Edward Llwyd.