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Gwynfor Evans
Richard Gwynfor Evans (1 September 1912 – April 21, 2005), was a Welsh politician and the first Member of Parliament to represent Plaid Cymru at Westminster (1966-1970; 1974-1979).

Gwynfor Evans was born to an English-speaking family in Barry, near Cardiff, and did not learn to speak Welsh until adulthood. He was educated at the University of Wales, Aberystwyth, and St John's College, Oxford, from where he qualified as a lawyer. He was a teenager when the Welsh nationalist party Plaid Cymru was founded in 1925, and he founded a branch of the party while he was at Oxford. He became the party's president in 1945 and retained the office until 1981.

A committed Christian and pacifist, he declared himself a conscientious objector in the Second World War and was required to appear before a tribunal which, recognising the firmness of his beliefs, unusually unconditionally dismissed him. Evans is credited with keeping Plaid Cymru going through the lean years of the 1940s and 1950s — in the 1950s he fought unsuccessfully for a Welsh parliament, and failed to prevent the damming of the Tryweryn river and consequent inundation of the Welsh-speaking community of Capel Celyn in order to supply the city of Liverpool with water — a cause célèbre in Wales in the early 1960s.

On 14 July 1966, Evans won the parliamentary seat of Carmarthen from Labour in a by-election caused by the death of Lady Megan Lloyd George, daughter of the former Liberal Prime Minister, David Lloyd George. This event is regarded as a seminal moment for Plaid Cymru.

In 1980, his threat to go on hunger strike to ensure that the Conservative government did not renege on its election promise of a Welsh language television channel was instrumental in bringing about an early U-turn on the part of Margaret Thatcher, and S4C began broadcasting on 1 November 1982.

In his political retirement he became a prolific writer, mainly on Welsh subjects and writing in Welsh with simultaneous or later English editions.
 


 

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