Dictionary of Welsh Biography

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THOMAS , Sir OWEN ( 1858 - 1923 ), agriculturist, soldier, and Member of Parliament ;

b. on 18 Dec. 1858 , at Carrog in Anglesey , of an old Nonconformist stock; he was a devoted Congregationalist throughout his life. He was educated at Liverpool College , and afterwards devoted himself to farming ; later he became agent to the Plas Coch and Brynddu estates ; in 1893-7 he sat as member of the Royal Commission on Agricultural Depression — he and lord Rendel were the only representatives of Wales on that body. He was prominent in public work , justice of the peace and deputy-lieutenant , and high sheriff of Anglesey ( 1893 ). He was in South Africa when the Boer War broke out in 1899 , he was made a colonel , and raised and commanded the Prince of Wales Light Horse . After the war he developed important farming interests in South Africa , and published ( London , 1904 ) Agricultural and Pastoral Prospects of South Africa . Soon after the outbreak of the 1914-19 war, he became brigadier-general responsible for the training of young Welshmen recruited in North Wales , an almost ideal appointment, what with his interest in the old Volunteer Movement , his experience in war, and his easy accessibility as a thorough Welshman in speech and outlook; he made a great success of it, notwithstanding some refractory cases of discipline which found their way into the newspapers of the time; he was knighted in 1917 . He had always been a keen politician — as far back as 1894 his name had been mentioned as a likely Liberal candidate for Anglesey , and in Dec. 1918 , he came forward as Labour candidate , and won the seat from the old member who had represented the county since 1895 ( E.J. Ellis-Griffith , q.v. ). In 1919-20 he was a member of the Milner Commission that went to Egypt to report upon the political position in that country. In 1922 he was adopted as Independent candidate for Anglesey , and again won the seat against his official Liberal opponent. He d. 6 March 1923 , and was buried at Llanfechell on the 9th .


  • J. E. Griffith , Pedigrees of Anglesey and Carnarvonshire Families (1914) , 399;
  • Hanes Eglwysi Annibynnol Cymru , ii, 483-7; v, 233-4;
  • Journal of the Royal Agricultural Society , third series, vii, 131, viii, 516-22;
  • Who's who in Wales , 1921 ;
  • Y Genedl , 13 Mar. 1923 ;
  • Y Dysgedydd , 1923 , 277-81.


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

Published date: 1959