In 1567 the first translation of the New Testament into Welsh was published in London. A law had been passed in 1563 instructing the bishops of the Welsh dioceses and the bishop of Hereford to arrange for the Bible and the Book of Common Prayer to be translated into Welsh by 1st March 1567. Most of the New Testament and the whole of the Prayer Book were the work of one translator, William Salesbury. Salesbury was a native of Llansannan in north Wales, who converted to Protestantism while studying at Oxford, and was responsible – as either author or translator – for most of the books printed in Welsh up to 1588.
Although Salesbury’s New Testament was superseded in 1588 by Bishop William Morgan’s more readable version, which included the Old Testament, his translation is an important milestone in the history of Welsh publishing and in the history of providing the people of Wales with the Scriptures in their own language. To mark the 450th anniversary of its publication, the Library has digitised the most complete copy of the 1567 New Testament in its collections. This copy, which is still in its 16th-century binding, was amongst the 200 volumes purchased by Sir John Williams, Bt. from the Earl of Macclesfield and donated to the National Library of Wales at its foundation.
Rare Books Librarian
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