his wanderlust but also committed him to a life of harsh, unremitting toil and penury. Nor did he need reminding that good health was a rare and precious commodity. During his youth he succumbed to scrofula, a frightful disease generally known as 'the King's Evil'16 (though wild horses could not have dragged William Jones to London to be touched by the king for the King's Evil). Sores, blisters and tumours developed on his body and, having failed to gain effective assistance from unscrupulous physicians and bumptious quacks, he eventually healed himself largely by placing the powder of half- burnt rags on the tumours.17 Suffering and pain also afflicted his wife Ann. Having given birth to a son (William) and two daughters (Elizabeth and Ann), a crippling illness confined her to bed for the last fifteen years of her life.18 Trapped in the barren upland wastes and boggy marshlands of mid- Wales, William Jones was hard put to subsist on land which he described as 'mostly of a stiff gravelly clay on a brittle bluish rock, most commonly so poor as not to be capable of producing any manner of corn without being burnt or well manured'.19 Judging by the evidence of his letters and essays, which reveal a remarkably detailed knowledge of rivers, streams, pools, fish, fields, place-names, barrows, cairns and tumuli, he knew his locality like the back of his hand. He served (without great enthusiasm) as churchwarden in 1769 and 1787, and also as overseer of the parish in 1782. 20 Parishioners knew of his gifts, too, as a country healer, musician, poet (his bardic name was Gwilym Cadfan), raconteur, astronomer, linguist, and eisteddfod adjudicator. His Ranter-like fondness for 'beer and base kisses' clearly raised eyebrows, especially in pious or genteel circles.21 For William Jones was no sobersides: he had a keen eye for comely wenches and was no stranger to the traditional Welsh custom of bundling.22 'I am sometimes fond of fun', he informed the parish officers of St Julians as he staggered drunkenly from the Raven and Bell in Shrewsbury in February 1782.23 In his cups he composed bawdy verses which one normally associates with the hedonist culture of Grub Street but which also offer rare glimpses of the richly convivial, "'For this tradition, see Keith Thomas, Religion and the Decline of Magic (London, 1971), pp. 192-98; Glyn Penrhyn Jones, Newyn a Haint yng Nghymru (Caernarfon, 1963), p. 112. I7N.L.W. MS. 1806E, f. 788. "N.L.W. MS. 13221E, f. 416. 19N.L.W. MS. 1641B, f. 55 ('A Brief Description of the Parishes of Llanerfyl, Llangadfan and Garthbeibio'). This essay formed the basis of Griffith Edwards's account of the three parishes published in Mont. Colls., II (1869), VI (1873), XVI (1883). 20N.L.W. Llangadfan Parochial Records, no. 1, ff. 118-19r. "N.L.W. MS. 170C, f. 10; 6967B, ff. 70-73. "N.L.W. MS. 171E, f. 10. 2'Llangadfan Parochial Records, no. 1, f. 45r.