The famous Welsh blind harpist was John Parry, who played for London’s cultural elite and was a member of the Royal Society of Musicians.
Rhyl had its own blind harpist, William Jones, who died tragically at the Foryd. The Rhyl Advertiser, February 1st 1879, ran with a story entitled
“Sad Accident at Voryd”
“The Blind Harper Drowned”
It went on the explain that William Jones of Bedford Street “known in our town as the Blind Harper”, had suffered a fatal accident at the Foryd on January 24th. He had lived in Rhyl for 30 years and had made his living by harp playing, by which means he supported his wife and six children.
On Monday, January 24th, William Jones had been seen in the company of several of the crew of “The Lion” a steamtug which lay alongside the railway company’s wharf, on the Abergele side of the Foryd. In the early evening Jones went home, only to return between 8 and 9 o’clock and proceeded along the wharf in the direction of the steamer. Unfortunately, the blind harper unwittingly stepped over the edge of the harbour wall and fell into the river below.
Benjamin Bethell, a boatman who was on board the Lion, heard the crash and went the the harper’s rescue but Jones had died and his death was thought to be caused by “dislocation of the neck”. The inquest was held at the Ferry Inn the following day, where the jury returned a verdict of accidental death.
John Parry, the famous Welsh blind harpist, was born c.1710 on the Lleyn peninsula and was known as Parri Ddall Rhiwabon – Blind Parry of Ruabon. He became harpist to Sir Watkin Williams-Wynn at Wynnstay, Ruabon. He spent much of his time at Williams Wynn’s London home where he performed on the Welsh Triple Harp for the city’s cultural elite.
For more information on blind harpist John Parry: