Dictionary of Welsh Biography

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THOMAS , IORWERTH RHYS ( 1895 - 1966 ), politician ;

b. 22 Jan. 1895 , the son of David William Thomas , Cwm-parc, Glam. He was educated at a local elementary school, and in 1908 , at 13 years of age, he began working at the Dare colliery , Cwmdare , Aberdare . He attended evening classes in economics and history in order to improve his education, and in 1918 he joined the Labour Party . In 1922 he was promoted to the position of checkweighman at Cwm-parc . He was a prominent figure within the South Wales Miners' Federation and the National Union of Mineworkers for more than 30 years, and held a number of offices in the Park and Dare Lodge , the largest in the south Wales coalfield. During the 1926 coalminers' strike Thomas was sentenced to three months imprisonment as the chairman of the Park and Dare Lodge as a result of his involvement in industrial disturbances. He was elected a member of the Rhondda Borough Council in 1928 , chaired many of its committees and served as its chairman in 1938-39 . He remained a member until 1951 . He served, too, on a number of joint industrial councils for Wales and Monmouthshire , and was a member of the South Wales Electricity Board , 1947-49 .

In 1950 he was elected M.P. (Lab.) for Rhondda West as a successor to Will John , and continued to represent the constituency until his death in 1966 . He was much interested in economic and industrial matters . Thomas was a consistent opponent of Welsh nationalism , and fought tooth-and-nail against the Parliament for Wales agitation of the 1950s . He publicly attacked Plaid Cymru on several occasions, and in Oct. 1965 he was highly critical of the recommendations of the Hughes-Parry Report on the Legal Status of the Welsh Language . In 1960 he supported the Conservative government 's measure to open public houses on Sundays.

He m. in Oct. 1920 Annie Mary , dau. of D.J. Davies . She, too, was active in the Labour politics of the area. She died in July 1956 . They had one son and one daughter. He d. 3 Dec. 1966 at his home 94 Park Road , Cwm-parc .


  • Who was who? ;
  • Dod's Parliamentary Companion ;
  • The Times and Western Mail , 5 Dec. 1966 ;
  • The Biographical Index of W. W. Price, Aberdâr (at the National Library of Wales and Aberdare Public Library) .


Dr John Graham Jones, Aberystwyth

Published date: 2001