Dictionary of Welsh Biography


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THOMAS , EVAN ROBERT ( 1891 - 1964 ), joiner and leader of the Welsh in Australia ;

b. 8 Jan. 1891 at Yspyty Ifan, Denbs. , son of Robert E. Thomas and Jane his wife, but the family moved to Trefriw, Caerns. , and he was educated in Llanrwst county school . He emigrated to Australia c. 1908 . He was a joiner and a noted craftsman and many of his fine wooden panels are in the public buildings of Melbourne .

He knew the problems facing an immigrant and made a practice of meeting every ship arriving from Britain to ensure that any Welshman who landed had a place to go. He was an enthusiastic and indefatigable worker among the Welsh people . When he was secretary ( 1932-58 ) of the Cambrian Society which met once a month in St. David's Hall , Latrobe Street , Melbourne , the membership increased from about 30 to over 3000; he was president of the society 1958-59 . He contributed a column to the society's magazine, The Cambrian , while it existed ( 1939-46 ), and to The Welsh Australian before that ( 1938-39 ). He served as secretary of the Union of Welsh Societies from 1932 and, as secretary ( 1934-53 ) of St. David's Day Association , he organised the annual celebrations, being president in 1955 . He kept in contact with Wales : he was elected vice-president of ‘Welsh People in Exile’ ( Wales and the World ) in 1960 and a vice-president of the Hon. Soc. of Cymm. in 1957 . He m., 7 Aug. 1915 , Gwladys B. Davies , Maryborough . They had five children and lived in Ael-y-bryn , 77 Murray Street , Caulfield , Victoria . He d. 6 Sept. 1964 and his funeral service was held in the Welsh chapel , Latrobe Street . He was buried in the new Cheltenham cemetery .

Sources:

  • Who's who in Australia , 1962 ;
  • Myfi Williams , Cymry Awstralia , 1961 ( 1961 ), 160-3;
  • The Transactions of the Honourable Society of Cymmrodorion , 1964 , part ii, 350;
  • The Age , Australia (Australian paper), 7 Sept 1964 .

Author:

Dr Mary Auronwy James, Aberystwyth

Published date: 2001