Dictionary of Welsh Biography

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THOMAS , JOHN EVAN ( 1810 - 1873 ), sculptor ;

b. at Brecon 15 Jan. 1810 , the eldest son of John Thomas , Castle Street , and Jane ( Evans ) his wife. He studied in London under Chantrey and afterwards on the Continent , began to work independently in 1834 , and was a frequent exhibitor at the Royal Academy between 1835 and 1857 . He had a very successful career, and many of his works are to be seen in Wales and elsewhere — in his home town, for instance, we have his statue of the duke of Wellington , while the Priory church (now the cathedral) contains more statuary by him. He was a thoroughgoing Welshman , and took a great interest in everything pertaining to Wales . He took a leading part (with the support of lord Llanover ) in the movement to prevent the mis-use of the endowments of Christ College , Brecon . In 1857 he bought Penisha'r-Pentre , a little mansion at Llansbyddid ; in 1868 he was sheriff of Brecknock . He d. 9 Oct. 1873 , in London , and was buried there. For thirty years he was assisted in his work by his brother

WILLIAM THOMAS , who was b. 13 July 1819 and d. 7 Sept. 1877 .

The latter, when he had completed his elder brother's unfinished works, continued to work on his own. He specialised in allegories and medallions executed in marble . Another brother was

JAMES THOMAS , b. 6 Nov. 1825 , and d. 4 Oct. 1904 .

He was an architect by profession and became chief surveyor to the War Office — he was the designer of the military hospital at Netley . He retired in 1890 . In London he was a prominent member of the Society of Ancient Britons , of which he was sub-treasurer , and took an interest in its school at Ashford .


  • Poole , The Illustrated History and Biography of Brecknockshire (1886) , 322-4 (the fullest account);
  • Theophilus Jones , History of the County of Brecknock (3rd imp.), iv, 162-3;
  • there is a short note on J. E. Thomas in the 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