Dictionary of Welsh Biography

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FOLEY , Sir THOMAS ( 1757 - 1833 ), admiral ;

b. at Ridgeway , Llawhaden, Pembs. , entered the navy in 1770 , was at the relief of Gibraltar in 1780 , in the actions off Toulon ( 1793 ), at the battle of Cape S. Vincent ( 1797 ), and led the British line at the battle of the Nile ( 1798 ). He was again with Nelson at Copenhagen ( 1801 ), but ill-health kept him out of the fighting which culminated at Trafalgar . Knighted in 1815 , he became admiral in 1825 , and d. 9 Jan. 1833 at Portsmouth , where he was commander-in-chief . His naval career is fully described in D.N.B. ; it remains to deal here with his Welsh associations. He was descended from a John Fawley or Foley , architect to the bishop of S. Davids , and ‘ constable of Llawhaden castle ,’ who was granted the estate by the bishop ( Adam Houghton ) in 1383 . A Foley was constable of Llawhaden during the Owain Glyn Dŵr rising; and several of the family are said to have been killed at the battle of Colby Moor (close by) in 1645 . The admiral was the second of the three sons of JOHN FOLEY of Ridgeway (who had m. a Herbert of Court Henry, Carms. ), and had an uncle, THOMAS FOLEY ( captain R.N. , d. 1758 ), who was with Anson on his voyage round the world, 1740-4 . The eldest son of John Foley , and the heir of Ridgeway , was JOHN FOLEY , a friend of Richard Fenton 's, but dead by 1811 when Fenton (q.v.) published his Tour . When captain Foley (as he then was) m. in 1802 , he bought the estate of Abermarlais, Carms. , rebuilt the mansion, and made it his home; though he d. childless, another branch of the family occupied it far into the 19th cent. — a Foley was sheriff of Carmarthenshire in 1870 .


  • The Red Dragon , v, 97 ff., 193 ff.;
  • Richard Fenton , A Historical Tour through Pembrokeshire , ( 1903 ed.), 54, 171, 175;
  • James Buckley , Genealogies of the Carmarthenshire Sheriffs (1770) ;
  • Oxford Dictionary of National Biography


Emeritus Professor Robert Thomas Jenkins, C.B.E., D.Litt., Ll.D., F.S.A., (1881-1969), Bangor

Published date: 1959