Dictionary of Welsh Biography

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THOMAS , IFOR ( 1877 - 1918 ), geologist and inspector of schools ;

b. at Commercial Place , Glanaman, Carms. , on 24 Nov. 1877 , son of Dafydd Thomas (‘ Trumor ’; 1844 - 1916 ) and his wife Margaret . His father, who was a miner at Gelliceidrim colliery in the Aman Valley , was a poet , a local historian and a regular contributor to Welsh-language newspapers . His prize-winning essay Hen Gymeriadau Plwyf y Betws was published in 1894 (reprinted 1912 ). Ifor Thomas was educated at the Board school , Glanaman , where he was also a pupil-teacher and at the University College of Wales , Aberystwyth , where he graduated B.Sc. After a short period as a teacher at Wellington College and at Brynmawr secondary school , he went to the University of Marburg in Germany to study geology and palaeontology under Professor Emanuel Kayser . He learnt German during this time and graduated with a Ph.D. in 1905 . He returned to London in the same year when he was appointed to the staff of the Geological Survey in Jermyn Street and he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Geological Society . He gained the degree of D.Sc. from the University of Wales in 1911 . He had a great interest in education and when his health deteriorated in 1912 he returned to Wales on his appointment as one of His Majesty's Inspectors of Schools , setting up home in Swansea . He placed great emphasis on the teaching of Welsh in schools at a time when that was not fashionable and he won the respect and admiration of Sir Owen M. Edwards ( DWB , 192-3) for his work on behalf of the language. He wrote many scholarly articles on geological subjects in The Geological Magazine and he also contributed articles to Seren Gomer and Y Genhinen . He was among the first to discuss in Welsh the geological interests of Edward Lhuyd ( DWB , 565-7) . Among his principal published works are: The British Carboniferous Orthotetinae ( 1910 ); The British Carboniferous Producti ( 1914 ); The Trilobite Fauna of Devon and Cornwall ( 1909 ); A New Devonian Trilobite and Lamellibranch from Cornwall ( 1909 ); A Note on Phacops (Trimerocephalus) Laevis (Münst) ( 1909 ); Neue Beiträge zur Kenntnis der Devonischen Fauna Argentiniens ( 1905 ). His health was always indifferent; he returned to his old home in Glanaman in the spring of 1918 , where he died, unmarried, on 30 March in the same year. He was buried in the graveyard of Bethesda Baptist church , Glanaman .


  • Seren Gomer , May 1918 , 136-148;
  • Quarterly Journal of the Geological Society of London , 75 (1919) , xvii-xviii;
  • South Wales Guardian , 30 Mar. 1975 .


Dr Huw Walters, F.S.A., Aberystwyth

Published date: 2001