Dictionary of Welsh Biography

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THOMAS , TIMOTHY ( 1694 - 1751 ), cleric and scholar ;

son of Thomas Thomas , ‘ gent ’ , Llandovery . From Westminster School he went to Christ Church , Oxford (matriculated 4 July 1712 , B.A. 1716 , M.A. 12 March 1718/19 , B.D. and D.D. 1735 ). He became a chaplain to Robert Harley , earl of Oxford , and so came to know Humphrey Wanley , the earl's librarian ; his brother William Thomas ( fl. 1685-1740 ) (q.v.) was also in the service of the earl . He was still a young man when he was asked to complete the work on an edition of the poems of Geoffrey Chaucer , which had been begun by John Urry (d. 1715 ) and continued by Thomas Ainsworth (d. 1719 ). This work, a large folio, published in London in 1721 , has a preface by Timothy Thomas , who was also responsible for the glossary; William Thomas corrected and enlarged the life of Chaucer , originally prepared by John Dart . Numerous references to Timothy Thomas are to be seen in the Hist. MSS. Comm. , Report on Portland MSS. — see the indexes to the various volumes — from the time he was student of Christ Church , chaplain to the earl , and until after he received (in 1727 , at the hand of the second earl of Oxford ) the rectory of Presteign, Rads. , a county with which the Harley family was closely connected. At Presteign he was friendly with Sneyd Davies , incumbent of Kingsland (see the article on the Davies-Cooke family, of Gwysaney ), collaborating with him in translating into Latin the Essay on Man by Alexander Pope , a poet with whom he had become acquainted through the Harley connection. John Davies quotes in his biography of Moses Williams (q.v.) part of a Welsh letter written by the latter, 16 April 1719 , to Timothy Thomas ; in this letter Williams refers to William Thomas as ‘ Gwilym Gwalstawd Ieithoedd ,’ which suggests that he was a good linguist ( B.M. Harl. MS. 7013 ). In B.M. Harl. MS. 7526 is a list of volumes in the library of the first earl of Oxford which Timothy Thomas was reclaiming; among them was a manuscript, ‘ The Statutes of St. Davids ’ (now B.M. Harl. MS. 6280 ), which Thomas had borrowed from some source and had lent to the earl. He d. 17 April 1751 , and was buried, according to Foster ( Alumni Oxon .), ‘in his cathedral’ ( Christ Church , Oxford? ).


  • To the references already given add J. Nichols , Illustrations of the Literary History of the Eighteenth Century Consisting of authentic memoirs and original letters of eminent persons; and intended as a sequel to the Literary anecdotes (London, 1817-58) .


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

Published date: 1959