Dictionary of Welsh Biography


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THOMAS , WILLIAM (d. 1671 ), of Llantrisant, Mon. , leader of the free-communion Baptists in the South of that county in Restoration times .

It is believed, but not with certain proof, that he (as a Baptist ) was one of the assistants of William Wroth (q.v.) at Llanfaches ; it is certain that he was not the William Thomas who was baptized by Miles at Ilston in Nov. 1650 . It is easy to believe that he was friendly with Walter Cradock (q.v.) , and that he was one of the Puritan preachers who fled to Bristol and London in 1642-3 ; when he returned, his name does not appear upon the pay-sheets of either the Propagators or the ‘ Triers ,’ the inference being that he had no love for tithe-money or for association with the State. He kept his people from yielding to the pressure of Independency on the one side and from accepting the arguments of the ‘close’ Baptists for exclusionist communion on the other; indeed, the point of Henry Maurice 's words in 1675 is that many strict Baptists of the Abergavenny church, who did not share the belief in the imposition of hands, allied themselves with the congregation of William Thomas . Under the penal code of Clarendon the area of his activities was the central hundreds of the county, with his headquarters at Llantrisant (he had m. the daughter of George Morgan of that parish). He was about the most active Nonconformist in the whole country; the intelligencers or spies of 1669 said he preached in four conventicles, and that in Llangwm it was particularly difficult to get hold of him, as five different houses harboured him to preach, five centres of the one conventicle. He often crossed the Bristol Channel to Bristol , to minister to the free-communionists of Broadmead ; he was there three times in 1667 , either imparting spiritual advice or baptising at Baptist Mill . He died in harness on 26 July 1671 ; after his days the supervision of the free-communionist groups depended on Dr. Christopher Price of Abergavenny (q.v.) , and Thomas Quarrell of Shirenewton (q.v.) .

Sources:

  • Joshua Thomas , Hanes y Bedyddwyr ymhlith y Cymry ( 1885 ed.), 240-3;
  • Lambeth MS. 639 (188-188b);
  • Reference is made to two editions, by E. B. Underhill, 1847, and Nathaniel Haycroft, 1865. Reference is also made to Addenda B (pp. 511–9 in 1847 ed) ( 1847 ed.), 515-6; (1865 ed.), 60, 61, 63;
  • The Transactions of the Honourable Society of Cymmrodorion , 1941 , 161.

Author:

Thomas Richards, D.Litt., (1878-1962), Bangor

Published date: 1959