William Aubrey Williams

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Alias: Gwilym Gwent


Born: 1834

Died: 1891


Gwilym Gwent was born William Aubrey Williams in Wales and emigrated to America with his wife Cecilia Williams. He settled in Plymouth, Pennsylvania, and worked as a blacksmith at the anthracite mines. He had no formal music training, but possessed a natural gift. He was nicknamed “Minstrel of the Mines” and “Mozart of the Mines” and would write scores in chalk on any available surface, including the sides of coal cars and pit props in the coal face. He led the first brass band in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, and the Gwent Glee Society was named in his honor. An estimated 5,000 people attended his funeral; friends and admirers later built a monument in his honor at Hollenback Cemetery. He co-edited a collection of Welsh hymns and wrote many glees and partsongs, a number of which won awards in Wales.

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