Dictionary of Welsh Biography

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THOMAS , OLIVER ( 1598 - 1653? ), Puritan cleric, and author .

There were two near-contemporaries of this name, both Oxford graduates and both hailing from Montgomeryshire , but there is little doubt that the man with whom we have to deal here was the ‘gent.’ who matriculated from Hart Hall (now Hertford College ) in Nov. 1616 , aged 18, and was B.A. in 1620 and M.A. in 1628 — the other man held benefices in Pembrokeshire , while the subject of the present notice was throughout his career associated with the north-eastern borders of Wales . The scanty details known of his career will be found in Thomas Richards 's Puritan Movement in Wales and Religious Developments in Wales . In 1629 he was at Wrexham , where Arise Evans (q.v.) heard him preach . In 1647 Oliver Thomas ‘of Oswestry ’ is found assisting Rowland Nevett in Shropshire , and is deemed ‘fit to be in Second Classis in Salop .’ He became an ‘approver’ under the Feb. 1649/50 Act for Propagating the Gospel in Wales ; and at some date before 14 May 1650 was given the living of Llanrhaeadr-ym-Mochnant . He was there down to 1653 ; Dr. Richards says that he ‘most probably died’ in that year — ’quite certainly before April 1657 .’ Anthony Wood says that he d. at Felton , Salop .

Thomas was the author of Catechism (with Evan Roberts , q.v. in App.), 1640 , and of Drych i dri math o bobl , c. 1647 (reprinted by Stephen Hughes , q.v. , in the composite volume, Tryssor i'r Cymru , 1677 ). The anonymous Car–wr y Cymru , 1630 (several reprints down to 1766 ), a 12-page catechism for children, and the much larger Car–wr y Cymru of 1631 (reprinted by Stephen Hughes in his Cyfarwydd-deb i'r Anghyfarwydd , 1677 ), which the University of Wales reprinted in 1930 , may also be confidently ascribed to him; it is so ascribed by Anthony Wood ( Athenae , 1691 edn., i, 860) on the authority of Thomas 's contemporary, Michael Roberts (d. 1679 ) (q.v.) , by Stephen Hughes in Tryssor ( 1677 ), and by Moses Williams (q.v.) in his list of Welsh printed books ( 1717 ). Oliver Thomas 's Welsh prose is excellent.


  • Wood , Athenae Oxonienses (1813–20) ;
  • T. Richards , op. cit. (indexed);
  • J. Ballinger , preface to the 1930 edn. of Car-wr y Cymru. Yn annog ei genedl annwyl a'i gyd-wladwyr er mwyn Crist a'u heneidiau i chwilio yr Ysgrythyrau yn ol gorchymyn Crist (1631, 1930) — but note the criticisms by G. J. Williams in Y Llenor , 1930 , 251-2;
  • Journal of the Welsh Bibliographical Society , iv, 262-5.


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

Published date: 1959