Dictionary of Welsh Biography

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THOMAS , WILLIAM PHILLIP (‘ Gwilym Rhondda ’; 1861 - 1954 ), colliery official ;

b. 27 Oct. 1861 , son of Mary Thomas (née Phillips ) and her husband of Treorchy, Glam. In 1874 he left the local school at the age of 12 to commence work as an office-boy with the Ocean Coal Co. ; he rose to become general manager in 1926 , retiring in 1933 . He was director of the company 1927-37 , and of many other coal companies besides. He was well known as an organiser of social and cultural activities . He was received into the Gorsedd of Bards under the pseudonym ‘ Gwilym Rhondda ’ at Cardiff national eisteddfod in 1883 for his literary and musical activities. He took an active part in religious affairs , being treasurer of the Welsh Baptist Association 1924-28 , treasurer of the Union of Young Welsh Baptists , secretary of the Welsh Baptist Assembly of the Upper Rhondda District for more than 50 years and president of the Baptist Union in 1928-29 . His great interest in the welfare of miners led him to organise very successful technical mining classes in the district. As secretary of Pentwyn hospital he organised the semi-national eisteddfod at Treorchy for 60 years, as well as drama festivals and other functions, in aid of the hospital. He served as J.P. and a member of Rhondda urban district council for over 25 years, being chairman 1913-14 . He m., 1887 , Elizabeth Devonald (d. 7 Aug. 1955 ). They had a son and two daughters and he retired to Hafod , Victoria Avenue , Porthcawl, Glam. , where he d. 2 Aug. 1954 and was buried at Treorchy .


  • The Baptist Union of Wales Handbook and Diary , 1955 ;
  • Adroddiad Noddfa (Bedyddwyr), Treorci , 1943 and 1955 ;
  • Western Mail , 3 Aug. 1954 ;
  • The Biographical Index of W. W. Price, Aberdâr (at the National Library of Wales and Aberdare Public Library) ;
  • 1871 census, RG 10/5384.


Dr Mary Auronwy James, Aberystwyth

Published date: 2001