Dictionary of Welsh Biography


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THOMAS , MORRIS ( 1874 - 1959 ), minister (Calvinistic Methodist), writer and historian ;

b. 8 July 1874 , in Talysarn , Dyffryn Nantlle, Caerns. , the son of Robert Thomas , quarryman , and his wife. The father d. when the Nantlle lake burst its banks, and 8 workmen were killed. Morris Thomas was only 12 years old, but at that age the boy had to go to work in the quarry . His minister , William Williams , saw that he was exceptionally able and gave him encouragement and instruction. He went to the college in Clynnog , and from there to the ‘department’ in the college in Bala . In Oct. 1901 he went to the University College of North Wales in Bangor and gained a 2nd-class degree in English, and a third class in Philosophy in 1905 . He came under the influence of the 1904-05 Revival , and instead of completing the B.D. course, decided to become the minister of a congregation, though he was in Bala from 1905-07 . He was ordained in 1908 , and his first pastorate was at Aber and Y Gatws near Bangor . Later, he became a minister in Penmorfa , near Porthmadog , Trefeglwys and Llawr-y-glyn, Monts. , and then Dolwyddelan .

He wrote extensively for the publications of his denomination . He won a prize in the national eisteddfod at Abergavenny in 1913 , for a translation into Welsh of Robert Louis Stevenson 's novel Treasure Island , and for a critical Essay on the ‘ Works and art of Islwyn ’. In the national eisteddfod in Pwllheli , 1925 , he shared a prize for his novel Toriad y Wawr , published in 1928 by Hugh Evans and Sons , Liverpool . The other winner was Lewis Davies , Cymer (see above ), for his novel, Wat Emwnt , published by the same company in the same year. In the Bangor national eisteddfod of 1931 , Morris Thomas won first prize with his novel Pen yr Yrfa , published in the office of the Goleuad in Caernarfon in 1932 .

He was considered to be a good historian , and he was appointed to write the history of the Llŷn and Eifionydd Presbytery , left unfinished by Henry Hughes , Bryncir ( DWB , 375) . According to his own account, he tired of the work and the task of trying to make sense of Henry Hughes ’ notes, and he turned the work into a novel. Toriad y Wawr is a story of the early days of Methodism in the Llŷn peninsula in the days of Morgan y Gogrwr ’ ( Morgan Gruffydd , see under Griffith Williams , 1769 - 1838 ; DWB , 1039) . He wrote another novel, Y Clogwyn Melyn , which was never published. He used also to publish a short story in the Christmas number of the Goleuad .

His wife, L.M. Thomas , a native of Llanarmon Dyffryn Ceiriog , was a sister of Prof. Richard Morris of the college in Bala . She too wrote extensively for children , and contributed regularly to the periodicals Trysorfa'r Plant and Y Gymraes . Morris Thomas retired in 1945 , and went to live in Tal-y-bont , in the Conwy Valley . He d. there in 1959 .

Sources:

  • Bangor Manuscripts at University College North Wales Library, Bangor 15135-15206, in the library of the University College, Bangor;
  • Y Goleuad , 7 Oct. 1959 ;
  • Blwyddiadur y Methodistiaid Calfinaidd , 1960 ;
  • Y Gymraes , 37, 10, Oct. 1933 ;
  • O. E. Williams , Dringwn fel ein tadau hanes eglwysi (M.C.) Moriah, Dolwyddelan , Dolwyddelan, 1980 (1980) ;
  • personal knowledge.

Author:

Derwyn Jones, M.A., Bangor / Colwyn Bay

Published date: 2001