Dictionary of Welsh Biography

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LLEISION ap THOMAS ( fl. 1513-1541 ), last abbot of Neath ,

and a man of great influence in Glamorgan in the days of king Henry VIII . In 1513 (the earliest record we have of him unless he was the Dom Lyson Thomas who was ordained deacon at Ledbury by the bishop of Hereford , 24 March 1509 ) he was one of the commission of the peace appointed to assemble at Cardiff — a position he occupied again in 1534 . In 1532 he played an important part in dealing with the affrays between the English and Welsh portions of Gower and on that occasion he was referred to as occupying a preeminent position in the public life of the district. It is clear that he was held in great respect by the Cistercians , for he was one of the five members of that order appointed by the king in 1532 to visit the Cistercian houses throughout the kingdom and to revive the College of S. Bernard at Oxford for the promotion of learning and virtue. Lewys Morgannwg (q.v.) , in his famous awdl to Lleision , gives him unstinted praise for his piety and erudition and asserts that the abbey at Neath was the home of culture in Wales and a stronghold of the Welsh language. When the dissolution of the lesser monasteries occurred in 1536 , Neath abbey had its life prolonged on payment of £150. But, for all that, Lleision was forced to give up his post on 9 Feb. 1539 and to hand over all the abbey's possessions to the king . Sir John Price (q.v.) , the Crown deputy , made an earnest appeal to Thomas Cromwell to treat the abbot generously, and this appeal was not made in vain, for he was given a pension of £48 and the rectory of Llangattock on condition that he left when he was given ecclesiastical promotion. He is last heard of in 1541 .


  • W. de Gray Birch , A history of Neath Abbey derived from original documents preserved in the British Museum, H.M. Public Record Office, and at Neath, Margam, etc., with some account of the castle and town of Neath and notices of the other monasteries of Glamorganshire (Neath, 1902) , 139-69;
  • Lawrence Thomas , The Reformation in the Old Diocese of Llandaff (1930) , 30-1, 38, 41-3;
  • D. Rhys Phillips , The Hist. of the Vale of Neath (Swansea, 1925) , 75, 229, 521-2, 746.


Evan John Saunders, M.A., Bargoed

Published date: 1959