Dictionary of Welsh Biography

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THELWALL , JOHN ( 1764 - 1834 ), reformer, lecturer and poet ;

son of Joseph Thelwall ( 1731 - 1772 ), silk merchant of London , descended from a branch of the Thelwall family of Plas y Ward ( DWB , 932-3) which settled in Crosby , Lancashire . He was b. at Chandos Street , Covent Garden , 27 July 1764 . He published Poems upon various subjects ( London , 1787 ), and became editor of Biographical and Imperial Magazine . He came under the spell of the French Revolution , and joined the Society of the Friends of the People . Because of his extreme radical views, he had to stand trial, 1-5 Dec. 1794 , having been imprisoned in the Tower of London since the previous May; however, he was found not guilty. Soon afterwards he published Poems written in close confinement in the Town and Newgate ( London , 1795 ). He took a farm near Llyswen, Breck. , c . 1798 , but returned to London within two years to lecture mainly on oratory and elocution . He was a friend of Southy , Hazlitt , Coleridge , and Lamb . Poems chiefly written in retirment … with a prefatory memoir of the life of the author ( Hereford , 1801 ) contains several poems relating to Wales . Thelwall also wrote a number of works on political matters and oratory .

He d. at Bath , 17 Feb. 1834 . He m. (1), Susan Vellum , (2) Cecil Boyle .


  • Poems Chiefly Written in Retirement. The Fairy of the Lake, a dramatic romance; Effusions of Relative and Social Feeling; and specimens of the Hope of Albion, or Edwin of Northumbria; an epic poem … With a prefatory Memoir of the life of the author and notes and illustrations of Runic mythology (1801) (1801) ;
  • Oxford Dictionary of National Biography


Dr David Jenkins, C.B.E., M.A., D.Litt., (1912-2002), Penrhyn-coch, Aberystwyth

Published date: 2001