Dictionary of Welsh Biography

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THOMAS , EDWARD ( Cochfarf ; 1853 - 1912 ) ;

b. 9 March 1853 in the farmhouse of Nantywith , Betws , near Maes-teg, Glam. , the son of Llewellyn Thomas and his wife (the latter a member of the Bryncethin-fawr family). He was educated at a school in Betws . His father died when the boy was about 10 years of age and the family moved to Melin Ifan Ddu . In 1876 he went to Hengoed to work as a carpenter , going to Cardiff two years later. He worked at his craft on the (old) Cardiff town hall in S. Mary Street , a building which he was to enter frequently afterwards as an elected representative of Cardiff ratepayers . He served as one of the secretaries of the national eisteddfod held at Cardiff in 1879 . In 1880 Cochfarf joined the staff of the Cardiff Coffee Tavern Company . When, however, that company decided to open its houses on Sundays, Cochfarf , who disapproved of Sunday opening, opened his own coffee tavern — in Custom House Street ; later he opened the Metropole , opposite the Taff Vale Railway station , and the Red Dragon in the docks district.

His career as a Cardiff boro. councillor began in 1890 ; he was elected mayor in 1902 . He was deeply interested in history and antiquities ; he was a most useful member of the Cardiff Free Library Committee ; he was also the chairman of the sub-committee of the boro. council which arranged for the boro. records to be examined and described by John Hobson Mathews (q.v.) ; he frequently contributed to the local press and to periodicals . He was a Baptist and a staunch Liberal ; he worked for the disestablishment and disendowment of the Church in Wales . He was a member of the Society for the Preservation of the Welsh Language . It was at his Custom House Coffee Tavern that the society known as ‘ Cymmrodorion Caerdydd ’ was formed; Cochfarf was one of the most influential members of that society.

Cochfarf m. (1) a daughter of Dr. Cook , Ynyspenllwch , and (2) a daughter of the Rev. Richard Hughes ( Tremrudd ), Maes-teg . The second wife, Madame Hughes-Thomas , became very widely known because of her Welsh ladies' choir which toured in the U.S.A. , Canada , South Africa , etc. Cochfarf accompanied the choir to the U.S.A. , and was, therefore, able to be of considerable help when arrangements were being made, later, for an international Welsh eisteddfod held at Pittsburg , Pennsylvania , U.S.A. , in 1913 . He d. 18 Nov. 1912 .


  • Western Mail , 19 Nov. 1912 ;
  • Seren Gomer , 1913 , 142-7.


Sir William Llewelyn Davies, M.A., LL.D., F.S.A. (1887-1952), Aberystwyth

Published date: 1959