According to Humphrey Humphreys , bishop of Bangor (q.v.) , Thomas Wiliems was reputed to be a papist , and was arraigned as a recusant before a bishop's court at Bangor in 1606 and before the archbishop's court in 1607 . He adds that lady Bodvel affirmed that Thomas Wiliems , having some knowledge of the Gunpowder Plot , persuaded her father, Sir John Wynn , not to attend that assembly of Parliament.
Throughout his life, Thomas Wiliems was an ardent student of Welsh literature , and a diligent collector and copyist of old manuscripts . Among the manuscripts written by him are: ‘ Prif Achau Holl Gymru Benbaladr ’ ( N.L.W. Llangibby MSS. 1 and 2 ), a copy of the Welsh Laws ( Pen. MS. 225 ), and a collection of Welsh proverbs ( Mostyn MS. 204 ). But his outstanding achievement was the compilation of a Latin-Welsh dictionary , ‘ Thesaurus Linguae Latinae et Cambrobrytannicae ,’ and it is on this that his fame chiefly rests. The work, which is in three closely-written quarto volumes, is based, in the main, on the Dictionarium Linguae Latinae et Anglicanae of Thomas Thomas , first printer to the University of Cambridge . It is a monument of industry and scholarship, and a veritable treasury of both literary and spoken Welsh . For each Latin word Thomas Wiliems gives several Welsh equivalents, and with a view to the study of the Welsh no less than the Latin language, illustrates their use by copious quotations from the manuscripts which he had perused. Writing in 1620 , he says that it took him fifty years to amass the material for the dictionary and four years to write it. It appears that Sir John Wynn undertook to see the work published, but Thomas Wiliems d. (probably in 1622 ), before any arrangements were made to do so. The manuscripts then came into Sir John 's possession and, at his request, Dr. John Davies of Mallwyd undertook to edit the dictionary . The work, however, was never published, but was used by Dr. Davies as the basis for the Latin - Welsh part of his Antiquae Linguae Britannicae Dictionarium Duplex , 1632 . The correspondence between Sir John Wynn and Dr. Davies relating to the dictionary, and preserved among the Wynn Papers , reflects very unfavourably on Dr. Davies 's treatment of Thomas Wiliems 's work.
William David Williams, Pontarddulais
Published date: 1959