Dictionary of Welsh Biography

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THOMAS , DAVID ( 1880 - 1967 ), educationalist, author and pioneer of the Labour Party in north Wales ;

b. 16 July 1880 son of David Thomas and his wife Elizabeth (née Jones ) , Quarry Cottage , Llanfechain, Mont. He was educated at Llanfechain and Llanfyllin schools with one term at Oswestry grammar school before going to work in a clothes shop in Llanfyllin . Soon afterwards he went to the British school there as a pupil-teacher ( 1895-99 ), later obtaining a post as uncertificated teacher at Pen-sarn , near Amlwch , at Bridgend, Glam. , and then Walton-on-Thames . He took the opportunity to attend a class in London on Saturdays to prepare himself for an examination for a teacher's certificate . Afterwards he taught at Cradley ; Rhostryfan ( 1905-09 ); Tal-y-sarn, Caerns. ( 1909-20 ); and Bangor Central School ( 1922-45 ). He worked on a farm near Wrexham during World War I as a conscientious objector and was for a short period ( 1920-22 ) secretary of the North Wales Labour Council , living in the neighbourhood of Newtown .

He worked energetically to form labour unions and branches of the Independent Labour Party in north Wales , assisting in founding the Caernarfonshire Labour Council in 1912 and the North Wales Labour Council in 1914 . He took a leading part in the debate on Socialism in Yr Herald Cymraeg in 1908 , followed by the publication of his first book, Y Werin a'i Theyrnas ( 1910 ), which left its influence on a number of unionists and Welsh Labour members. He took a keen interest in adult education . He was a tutor of classes held by the Workers’ Educational Association in Caernarfonshire for a long period ( 1928-59 ), and he maintained an official connection with the society until his d. In 1944 he commenced the publication of Lleufer , the Workers’ Educational Association periodical which he edited until 1965 . He gained a M.A. degree for a dissertation on ‘ A study of a rural and maritime community in the nineteenth century, with special reference to the relation between agriculture and shipping ’ ( Liverpool ; 1928 ), and an hon. M.A. degree of the University of Wales in 1960 .

He was a very effective speaker and radio broadcaster and he wrote many articles, pamphlets and books on a wide range of political, literary and historical topics, including: Y Blaid Lafur a Dinasyddiaeth y Gweithiwr ( 1912 ), Y Cynganeddion Cymreig ( 1923 ), Y Ddinasyddiaeth Fawr ( 1938 ), Hen longau a llongwyr Cymru ( 1949 ), Cau'r tiroedd comin ( 1952 ), Llafur a senedd i Gymru: ysgrifau, llythyrau a sgyrsiau ( 1954 ), a biography of Silyn (Robert Silyn Roberts) 1871-1930 ( 1956 ), and Ann Griffiths a'i theulu ( 1963 ); also ‘ Glendid iaith ’, a weekly column on grammar in Y Faner ( c. 1957-62 ). As a tribute to him he was presented with the volume, Ben Bowen Thomas (ed.), Lleufer y werin; cyfrol deyrnged i David Thomas, M.A. ( 1965 ), and his autobiography was published posthumously, Diolch am gael byw ( 1968 ). Some of his papers are kept at the National Library of Wales .

He m. 26 July 1919 , Elizabeth Ann Williams , New Broughton (d. 1955 after a very long illness) and they had a son and a daughter. He d. at the home of his daughter, the widow of Herman Jones (see above) , at 2 Pen-y-bryn , Burry Port, Carms. on 27 June 1967 .


  • His autobiography;
  • D. Ben Rees , Cymry adnabyddus, 1952-1972 , Liverpool, 1978 (1978) ;
  • The Biographical Index of W.W. Price, Aberdâr (at the National Library of Wales and Aberdare Public Library) .


Dr Mary Auronwy James, Aberystwyth

Published date: 2001