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THE SIR JOHN WILLIAMS COLLECTIONS I MANUSCRIPTS The collections of manuscripts presented by Sir John Williams take precedence over all the other foundation collections of the National Library of Wales. They total some twelve hundred items divided into three main groups. The first group is composed of five hundred manu- scripts out of the deservedly famous Hengwrt-Peniarth library. The second comprises the two hundred volumes designated The Llan- stephan Collection' by John Gwenogvryn Evans in his Report [for the Historical Manuscripts Commission] on Manuscripts in the Welsh Language, Vol. II, Part II (1903). It includes a hundred and fifty- four manuscripts from the Welsh portion of the Shirburn Castle library, and a selection of forty-six of the older manuscripts acquired from various sources and then in the possession of Sir John Williams at Plas Llanstephan. The third group consists of five hundred á Additional' manuscripts, i.e., the remainder of the collection made by Sir John Williams over and above the two hundred volumes selected, somewhat arbitrarily, by Gwenogvryn Evans for his Report. The distinction, made where it is, between the second and third groups is artificial, the natural division falling at the end of the Shirburn Collect- tion, and it is regrettable that the arrangement of the remainder of the Sir John Williams manuscripts was made without proper regard for their provenance. The third group has become the first five hundred volumes in the general collection of the National Library of Wales, i.e. N.L.W. MSS. 1-500. The great majority of the manuscripts was secured by Sir John Williams between the years 1894 and 1905, and it is significant that after the final choice, in May, 1905, of Aberystwyth as the seat of the National Library Sir John virtually ceased to be a collector of manu- scripts. During the preceding decade he had made a name for himself as the chief collector of Welsh manuscripts, and he had been prepared to buy any Welsh manuscript or collection that could be acquired at a public sale or by private treaty. He did not collect manuscripts for the mere gratification of an instinct, and his greatest purchase neither came nor was it meant to come under his roof. He bought manuscripts in the pursuit of a policy calculated to secure the establishment of a national library for Wales, and in the latter half of the period to ensure