Dictionary of Welsh Biography

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THOMAS , ROBERT ( 1796 - 1866 ), Calvinistic Methodist preacher; a ‘character’; .

Born 28 Aug. 1796 at Trawsafon , Betws-y-coed , the fifth of nine children born to Thomas Thomas , stonemason , and to Elizabeth ( Williams ) , his wife. He was a farmer' boy for a time, but later took to his father's trade. He had been to some small schools, and was a voracious reader; he wrote verse at an early age and was very friendly with Ieuan Glan Geirionydd ( Evan Evans , 1795 - 1856 , q.v.) . He began preaching in 1820 . In 1823 he spent some months in John Hughes 's school at Wrexham . After that, he himself kept a school at Bodfari and Trelogan , while continuing to work as a stone-mason . In 1826 he m. Sara Roberts of Cae'r-lion , Llanycil , and they lived for two years at Bala where, for part of the time, he kept a school . From 1828 to 1834 he farmed Ty-nant in Llanycil , and from 1834 to 1840 rented his father-in-law's small holding; but his farming venture was a complete failure, and he moved to Ffestiniog to work at his trade — from 1844 to 1853 he was living at Peniel chapel-house — and there, in 1849 , he published a book of verse, Lloffion o Foes Boaz . In 1853 Sara Thomas opened a shop at Llidiardau ( Llanycil ), the village she came from, while he continued to work at his trade while spasmodically keeping a school at Llidiardau chapel — at the same time preaching the length and breadth of Wales , for he was in great demand if only for his oddity; he was never ordained. He d. 16 Dec. 1866 . He was throughout his life an impractical, odd, clumsy (but witty), and impulsive man whose frequent fits of melancholy made him almost a ‘borderline case.’ Indeed, the above summary of his career will be of little value unless supplemented by reading that very entertaining biography, Hanes Bywyd Robert Tomos Llidiardau , by Owen Jones , 1869 , in which will be found many of his sayings.


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

Published date: 1959