John Walters jun. (1760-89)

John Walters, jun., son of John Walters, was educated locally at Cowbridge Grammar School. He attended Jesus College, Oxford, gaining a B.A. in 1781 and an M.A. in 1784. He was also a Fellow of the college and sub-librarian at the Bodleian Library. John showed considerable promise as a scholar, and his contemporaries believed that he was capable of completing Richard Thomas's unfinished work on the poetry of Llywarch Hen, as well as editing Lewis Morris's 'Celtic Remains'.

He returned to Glamorgan in 1783 as a teacher at his alma mater in Cowbridge, but by the end of 1784 he had been appointed headmaster of Ruthin Grammar School and rector of Efenechdyd. His letters to Iolo reveal his scholarly inclinations. Concise and more direct than his brother Daniel's letters, they show clearly that he was part of the Welsh cultural awakening usually associated with the London-Welsh. He had collaborated with Owen Jones and Edward Jones (Bardd y Brenin), and it is highly likely that he was an intermediary between them and Iolo. John promised Iolo that he too would play an important role in the cultural awakening: 'I am now projecting in concert with some learned friends, vast schemes for the restoration of the poetry, history, and learning of Wales. If our schemes succeed, you are to bear a principal part in them' (NLW 21283E, Letter 524, John Walters jun. to Iolo Morganwg, 12 December 1782).

His letters reveal that he was familiar with the Welsh bardic tradition and that he had a critical attitude towards early poetry, Siôn Dafydd Rhys's bardic grammar, and Welsh manuscripts. See NLW 21283E, Letter 525, John Walters jun. to Iolo Morganwg, 4 March 1783 He published a volume of English poetry, Poems, with Notes (1780), which reveals a debt to poets such as John Denham, Alexander Pope and George Dyer. Since the poems Iolo published in Poems, Lyric and Pastoral (1794) also reflect the same literary taste, it could be argued that John and his brother Daniel were important influences on Iolo as he searched for his poetic voice in English.

Among his other publications are Translated Specimens of the Welsh Poetry in English Verse, with some original pieces: Poems, and notes (1782), an English version of Welsh poems originally translated by Evan Evans. John had also given invaluable help to Edward Jones as he prepared his Musical and Poetical Relicks (1784) for the press. Indeed, some years later in a letter to William Meyler, Iolo angrily claimed that John's contribution had not been adequately recognized by Edward Jones. (Card 3.99, Iolo Morganwg to William Meyler, 1 January 1792). John died in 1789 before fulfilling his scholarly promise.