John Roberts: 'Telynor Cymru' 1816-1894 WYN THOMAS The gypsies have always been pariahs, living on the fringes of society, throughout the centuries and in every country and continent. Today, in spite of oppression and rejection, there are around ten million of them scattered all over the world1 but the one obvious characteristic which binds them together is the important place that music and dance hold, and always have held, in the life of the Romany. It was this, undoubtedly, that kept their culture alive, and their skill as performers and entertainers drew the notice and admiration of all ranks of society. In Wales, names such as Lock, Boswell, Lee, Ingram and Hogan are all fairly familiar. These are the descendants of the original Romany families who lived in Wales. However, in the context of music and dance, specific reference must be made to the versatile and talented family of Abram Wood (c. 1699-1799). This family more than any other upheld the Welsh musical traditions of the triple harp, Welsh folk airs and melodies, and the family's avid interest in Welsh customs did much to ensure their continuing use and subsequent survival. Such interest was also a means of forging a relationship between the Wood family and the community around them. As the editor of Y Cerddor observed in 1932: In no aspect of life have the Welsh Gypsy and the ordinary Welshman kept closer touch than in music. There are few traditions to which the Welsh Gypsy himself clings more tenaciously than to our Welsh tunes.3 John Roberts ('Telynor Cymru') was of the lineage of Abram Wood, and although he was only half gypsy (his father had married a member of the Welsh Romany family) it is in the person of 'Telynor Cymru' that the embodiment of two entirely different traditions can be seen. As the foremost gypsy musician in nineteenth-century Wales, Roberts showed skill and an innate understanding of the