Dictionary of Welsh Biography


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THOMAS , WILLIAM (KEINION) ( 1856 - 1932 ), Congregational minister, and publicist .

Born at Bangor 25 Sept. 1856 , elder son of Robert Hughes Thomas , chief smith at the Penrhyn quarry , and of Elinor his wife. He served as pupil-teacher under T. Marchant Williams , but became ( c. 1872 ) an accountant in a Manchester office. He began to preach at Gartside Street chapel , Manchester , and then went to Bala Independent College , under M. D. Jones ; there he added ‘ Ceinion ’ (later Keinion ’) to his name. His pastorates were: Garisim with Peniel ( Llanfairfechan ) 1879 , Siloh with Moriah ( Port Dinorwic ) 1900 , Pentraeth (with Penmynydd , Llanfair-pwll , and Menai Bridge ) 1910 , and finally Beaumaris 1922-32 .

He was twice married: to Ruth in 1889, and they had two sons, Garth and Robert Tibbot Kerris, and in 1902 he married Jannette Spencer, and they had five sons, Gwyn, Alon, Iwan, Jac and Dafydd Rhys and a daughter, Truda.

Believing that every minister should have some other profession, he took up journalism . After the death of his friend John Roberts (‘ J.R. ’, 1804 - 1884 ) , he edited Y Cronicl from 1885 to 1910 , at first with the help of J.R. 's’ brother Samuel (‘ S.R. ’) , and then with the purely nominal help of M. D. Jones . He also edited Y Celt from 1885 to 1901 . Apart from his journalism , an occasional englyn , and a short Life of ’ S.R. ’ ( 1898 ), he wrote little. He travelled extensively — in Ireland to gather data on the potato famine and on home rule in Brittany , and in the Bible lands. And he won a name for himself with his dramatised lectures ; the proceeds of one of these paid the costs of an action brought against Y Celt by lord Penrhyn . A threatened seizure of the leasehold Congregational chapel at Llanfair-pwll impelled him to promote the ‘ Chapel Sites Bill .’ From 1913 to 1932 he was secretary of Bala-Bangor Independent College .

He died 5 Aug. 1932 , and was buried in Penmynydd churchyard — a tablet to his memory was unveiled in Seion chapel ( Beaumaris ) in 1937 . Thomas was a good example of ‘ mens sana in corpore sano ,’ an entertaining companion, and a personality respected even by opponents.

Sources:

  • Personal knowledge;
  • D. J. Williams , Hanes Coleg Bala-Bangor , unpublished , i, 212;
  • Y Dysgedydd , 1879 , 138;
  • Y Tyst , 11 Aug. to 13 Oct. 1932 ;
  • Y Genedl , 15 Aug. 1932 ;
  • The London Missionary Society Chronicle , Sept. 1932 ;
  • North Wales Chronicle , 11 Aug. 1932 .

Author:

Dafydd Rhys ap Thomas, M.A., B.D., Bangor

Published date: 1959