We were proud to receive and plant the new John Ystumllyn Rose in QPG Rose Garden. #W10 The rose was launched in honour of one of the first known Black gardeners in the UK. @harkness_roses @HCGAGardens @QPCouncil @FoQPGardens pic.twitter.com/rA2REA3LUF
— Ulla Johnson (@ullajohnsonLDN) March 29, 2022
John Ystumllyn was an 18th-century Welsh gardener and the first well-recorded black person of North Wales.
John was of uncertain origin but early in his life he was taken by the Wynn family to their estate in Criccieth, where he was christened with the Welsh name John Ystumllyn. He was taught English and Welsh by the locals. He learned his craft in the estate garden and began a romance with the local maid Margaret Gruffydd with whom he later eloped and married.
In recognition of his service Ellis Wynn gave Ystumllyn a large garden and cottage at Y-Nhyra Isa. He died in 1786 at around the age of 50; his wife survived him for more than forty years. Several years after his death, a small monument was constructed in his place of burial St Cynhaearn’s Church.
Over a hundred years after his death, the Welsh writer Robert Isaac Jones published an account of his life compiled from various local oral records. This work, while also criticised for its forgetfulness and racial stereotyping, is regarded as the most informative extant source of Ystumllyn’s life. According to Jones, he was “a very honest man, with no malice, and was respected by the gentry and the common people alike”.