Dictionary of Welsh Biography


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REES , THOMAS MARDY ( 1871 - 1953 ), Independent minister, historian and author ;

b. Skiwen, Glam. , in 1871 , one of the six children of William Rees , collier , and his wife Mary . He attended the national school in the village and afterwards joined his father in the Fforest Fforchdwm colliery . Later, after moving to Resolven , they worked at Melin-cwrt Level . When the level closed they moved to Maerdy in the Rhondda Fach valley . The father and two of the boys, Thomas and John , were working in No. 2 pit on 23 Dec. 1885 when a tragic explo sion happened there, but the three were saved.

Thomas ’ public career as a reciter , orator , poet and narrator began early. He began preaching when he was eighteen years of age, at the request of Siloa , Maerdy . He attended Pentre secondary school , Rhondda , before moving on to Gwynfryn school , Ammanford . He won a scholarship for local boys from Maerdy tenable at the University College , Cardiff . He was accepted by examination into the Memorial College , Brecon . He was ordained in June 1896 at Bethel Newydd , Mynyddislwyn, Mon. It was there, tracing the church's history , that he took to historical research . This was to become one of his main interests in life. In 1899 he moved to Buckley, Flints. , as pastor of the English church , and whilst there he took advantage of the resources of St. Deiniol's Library , Hawarden . He played an active role in local government as a member of the county council and as chairman of Flintshire education committee . He was a member of the deputation which went before the Commission on the Disestablishment and Disendowment of the Church . In 1906 he moved and took charge of Markham Square church , Chelsea . There he co-operated with Lord Monkswell in promoting children's welfare . In 1912 he returned to Wales to take charge of the English church at Gnoll Road , Neath , where he stayed until his retirement in 1946 . On his retirement he was made honorary minister of the church.

He won many prizes in the national eisteddfod . He was secretary of the literary committee of the national eisteddfod at Neath , 1918 . He was a member of the Gorsedd of Bards and lectured widely on historical subjects . On the strength of his research and publications he was elected F.R.Hist.S. in 1919 . He published a number of books and booklets: Y Lili fach wen a thelynegion eraill ( 1903 ); Breezes from the Welsh hills and other poems ( 1906 ); Notable Welshmen ( 1908 ); Ebenezer Jones, the neglected poet … ( 1909 ); Ystorïau difyr … ( 1908 and 1909 ); Mynachdai Cymru … ( 1910 ); Welsh painters, engravers, sculptors (1527-1911) ( 1912 ); Difyrrwch gwŷr Morgannwg … ( 1916 ); Hiwmor y Cymro … ( 1922 ); A history of the Quakers in Wales and their emigration to North America ( 1925 ); and Seth Joshua and Frank Joshua … ( 1926 ). He was the editor of The Official Guide to Neath from 1922 to 1941 . He also published pamphlets in Welsh and English on the results of the Act of Uniformity, 1662 , and short histories of Maes-yr-haf church , Neath , and Bethel Newydd church , Mynyddislwyn .

He m. Margaret Williams who predeceased him by four years. They had four sons and one daughter. The eldest son, Alyn , d. before his father. He was the first secretary of the Consultative Council on Technical Education in south Wales . Kenneth was a bank manager in Croydon , Penry was headmaster of Basaleg grammar school , and Bryn was minister of the Congregational church in Muswell Hill , London .

He d. 2 May 1953 and was buried in the new cemetery, Llanilltud Fach, Glam.

Sources:

  • The Congregational Year Book , 1954 ;
  • Annual Report of the National Library of Wales , Aberystwyth , 1979 , 5.

Author:

Evan David Jones, F.S.A., (1903-87), Aberystwyth

Published date: 2001