Dictionary of Welsh Biography


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LLEWELLYN , THOMAS ( 1720? - 1783 ), Baptist minister and tutor .

Born at Penalltau-isaf , Gelligaer , c. 1720 , son of Evan Llewellyn and descended, it is said, from Tomas Llywelyn of Rhigos . After following the trade of tailor in the Castleton district, he was baptized in 1738 , and underwent a course of training for the Baptist ministry, first at Trosnant ( Pontypool ) in 1740 , then at Bristol in 1741 , and finally in London in 1742 , but although he was ordained at Prescott Street , Goodman's Fields , c. 1747 , he did not undertake pastoral charge, but spent the greater part of his life, until the early 70s, as tutor at an academy for poor Baptist ministerial students , founded by himself in London . He d. on 7 Aug. 1783 at Castleton , where he had spent some years of retirement, and was buried in Bunhill Fields . He received the degrees of M.A. and LL.D. of the University of Aberdeen .

He is best remembered for his efforts to secure for his fellow-countrymen a constant supply and distribution of Welsh Bibles . He published Historical Account of the British or Welsh Versions and Editions of the Bible , 1768 , translated into Welsh in Seren Gomer , 1815 , and Historical and Critical Remarks on the British Tongue , 1769 (both reprinted together in 1793 under the title of Tracts, Historical and Critical ) which inspired the S.P.C.K. to publish 20,000 copies (8,000 more than originally intended) of the Welsh Bible of 1769 , and with the same object in view he joined the ‘ Book Society for promoting Religious Knowledge among the Poor ’ on 2 March 1768 , and prepared for them a list of congregations of all denominations in South Wales and Monmouthshire , to whom free copies of the new Bible might be sent. It was also largely as the result of his initiative, coupled with monetary assistance from the Baptist fund , that the Welsh Baptist mission to North Wales was launched in 1776 . He was a member of the Cymmrodorion in 1778 .

His will, proved 21 Aug. 1783 , refers to his wife, Mary , who was his executrix, his brothers Evan and Jenkin , his sister Mary Thomas of Castleton , and several nephews and nieces.

There is now new information on the parentage and family of Dr Thomas Llewellyn.

It appears from the will of Lewelin Jenkin of Gelligaer parish (buried 30 December 1729) that Thomas Llewelyn and Mary were his children by his second wife Anne Lewis James. She died while Thomas was under 10 years of age as a guardian, James Lewis, had been appointed. Lewelin's first wife, Catherine, who died and was buried 12 February 1716/1717, was probably the mother of his sons Jenkin and Evan, half brothers, therefore, to Thomas and Mary. Lewelin married again and his third wife Elizabeth Jenkins is named in his will. Anne Lewis James's parents were probably Lewis James and Elizabeth Rosser of Eglwys Ilan. Their son and heir was James Lewis, perhaps the guardian of his nephew Thomas. Elizabeth Rosser inherited Cefn Hengoed farm and granted a lease to build Hengoed Baptist chapel. Her grandson Lewis James was minister there in the 18th century and he was probably Dr Thomas Llewellyn's cousin.

Sources:

  • Trafodion Cymdeithas Hanes Bedyddwyr Cymru , 1907-8, 7-22 ;
  • Oxford Dictionary of National Biography ;
  • Hanes y Bedyddwyr ymhlith y Cymry 1885 ed., 190-3;
  • Seren Gomer , 1855, 385-9, 433-9 ;
  • Hanes y Bedyddwyr yn Nghymru , 1893–1907 , iii, 62-70;
  • Hengoediana, sef, Hanes Eglwys y Bedyddwyr yn Hengoed , 1861 , 10-11;
  • The New Hengoediana, or the History of Hengoed Baptist Church , 1910 , 47-8 ;
  • Y Cymmrodor , 1951, 63-4 ;
  • See the discussion by Greg Buick in Gelligaer Historical Society Journal , 19 (2012).

Authors:

Benjamin George Owens, M.A., Aberystwyth

Dr Brynley Francis Roberts, Aberystwyth

Published date: 1959