Swansea University - Dillwyn

The Dillwyn Project

Research projects and initiatives focusing on the literary, scientific and industrial legacy of the Dillwyn family

Theresa Dillwyn Llewelyn


The Dillwyn family were pioneers and movers in science, culture, politics and industry during the nineteenth century.  

The Dillwyn Project promotes research into the cultural and scientific achievements of this remarkably dynasty and works to preserve, extend and disseminate the archives of the Dillwyn family. 

Recent Events

Dillwyn Day: Science Culture Society, 22 June 2012, National Waterfront Museum

Amy Dillwyn and The Rebecca Rioter: A Literary Tour, 21 July 2012


Who were the Dillwyns?

William Dillwyn (1743-1832)
A Quaker and anti-slavery campaigner who emigrated from America to Britain.  William Dillwyn was a founder member, with Thomas Clarkson and Granville Sharp, of the Society for the Abolition of the Slave Trade and he wrote, with John Lloyd, The Case of our Fellow Creatures, the Oppressed Africans (1783). He purchased the Cambrian Pottery in Swansea thus establishing the family's connection with the area. 

Lewis Weston Dillwyn (1778-1855)
Eminent botanist, Fellow of the Royal Society, founder member of the Royal Insitution of South Wales, owner of the Cambrian Pottery.

John Dillwyn Llewelyn (1810-1882)
Pioneer photogapher who collaborated with Henry Fox Talbot (to whom he was related by marriage). He was also an astronomer, a botanist and a Fellow of the Royal Society, making him an important figure in the history of science in Britain. Amongst his children was Thereza, who kept up the family interest in science and is pictured above using an early microscope.  Visit The Penllergare Trust for an illustrated timeline.

Mary Dillwyn (1816-1906)
A notable early British female photographer and Wales's first woman photographer.  Mary Dillwyn's photograph albums have been digitised by the National Library of Wales.

Thereza Mary Story-Maskelyne [neé Dillwyn Llewelyn] (1834-1926)
Interested in photography and astronomy, Thereza Dillwyn Llewelyn made some pioneering telescopic photographs of the moon. She married Nevil Story-Maskelyne in 1858, Professor of Minerology at Oxford.  Recorded as a correspondent of Charles Darwin in the 1870s (see The Darwin Project: Darwin Correspondence Database), her diaries, unpublished memoirs and photographs were recently acquired by the British Library.

Lewis Llewelyn Dillwyn (1814-1892)
Liberal MP, campaigner for the Disestablishment of the Church in Wales, father of Amy Dillwyn.  Married the daughter of eminent geologist, Henry De La Beche.

Amy Dillwyn (1845-1935)
An early woman industrialist, she saving a spelter works from collapse and making her own fortune.  Her forthright opinions, eccentric dress and her habit of smoking a cigar brought her celebrity and respect.  Prior to her industrial career, she published six novels, the most famous being The Rebecca Rioter (1880) in which she tells the story of the famous attack on the Pontardulais gate by the Rebeccaites from the point of view of a rioter.  All Amy Dillwyn's novels all concerned with the position of women in Victorian society and she became was president of the Swansea branch of the NUWSS.

A family tree, created by Richard Morris, can be viewed here Dillwyn Family Tree


The Dillwyn Working Group was set up in 2009 to coordinate the various strands of the Dillwyn Project. It comprises academic and lay members, reflecting the mixed nature of the various strands of the Dillwyn Project.

Dillwyn Diaries
Click on the link for details of where to find transcriptions of the diaries of Lewis Weston Dillwyn, Lewis Llewelyn Dillwyn and William Dillwyn (forthcoming). amd to read more about the ongoing project to publish the diaries and papers of Amy Dillwyn (by kind permission of the copyright owner and biographer of Amy Dillwyn, Dr David Painting).

Archive Events

Events in 2010. This year was the bicentenary of the birth of John Dillwyn Llewelyn and a full programme of events to mark this anniversary took place. You can also download a PDF 2010 Events .

February 2010, Swansea University launched the digital editions (transcriptions) of the diaries of Lewis Weston Dillwyn (1778–1855) and Lewis Llewelyn Dillwyn (1814-1892).