Dictionary of Welsh Biography


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THOMAS , JOHN ( 1730 - 1804? ; DWB , 950-1).

He was christened 25 Apr. and not 25 March . He m. Miss Elizabeth Jones of Dyffryn Cothi , parish of Llanfynydd . Rhad Ras , 1810 , and Cylch. Cymd. Hanes M.C. , March 1967 .

Author:

Rev. Gomer Morgan Roberts, M.A., (1904-93), Pont-rhyd-y-fen / St Dogmael's / Llandybïe

Corrections and additions:

THOMAS , JOHN ( 1730 - 1804? ), Congregational minister, and hymnist ;

b. in 1730 in the parish of Myddfai, Carms. (christened 25 March ). He came from a thriftless family but was nurtured by relatives. He received short periods of schooling in the neighbourhood of his home and learnt to read Welsh . He worked on farms , reading the Bible , Cannwyll y Cymry , and Taith y Pererin in his leisure hours. He heard Howel Harris preach in the house of Sieffre Dafydd , Llanddeusant ( 1745 ), an experience which shook him to the core. He went to Llanddowror as man-servant to the Rev. Griffith Jones (q.v.) and stayed there two years. At the invitation of Howel Harris he went to Trevecka ; by this time his greatest delight was in attending religious meetings and societies, in preaching , and exhorting . For some years he taught in some of Griffith Jones 's circulating schools in South Wales . Liking the Congregational church system, he joined that body and on the recommendation of some Congregational ministers , he was received into the Academy at Abergavenny in 1761 . Here he devoted more time to preaching and exhorting than to his studies. He was ordained, 23 April 1767 , as minister of Rhayader , Cae Bach , Llandrindod , and Garn by Edmund Jones , Isaac Price and, Richard Tibbott (qq.v.). According to his ‘Confession of Faith,’ 6 April 1788 , he was then minister of Rhayader and Llandrindod . His ministerial life was tempestuous. He left Radnorshire in 1794 and made his way to Llangathen , Abergwili , and Carmarthen , where he died. It is not known when exactly he died — according to Rhad Ras he was alive in the winter of 1803-4 , other sources maintain that he lived until 1810 or 1811 . His personality was highly complex — he was warm spirited and exceedingly aware of sin. His Rhad Ras (published in 1810 ), which may be called the first Welsh autobiography, and the hymns of William Williams ( Pantycelyn ) are perhaps the most eloquent expressions of the spirit of the Welsh religious revival of the 18th century . He published Caniadau Sion [ sic ] in six parts between 1758 and 1788 (this work [the separate parts of which were collected into a volume in 1788 ] includes some of our best-known hymns), and translated many of Bunyan 's tracts. There are elegies by him to Howel Harris , David Jones of Caeo , and Peter Williams .

Sources:

  • Rhad Ras , 1810; another ed., 1949 , 1949 ed.;
  • Hanes Eglwysi Annibynnol Cymru , ii, 535;
  • Geiriadur Bywgraffyddol o Enwogion Cymru , ii, 594;
  • Minutes of Cong. Fund Board , 2 Nov. 1772 ; 5 April 1779 ; 6 Oct. 1800 ;
  • Hanes Llenyddiaeth Gymreig, 1651–1850 . [1893?] 356-64;
  • A History of Carmarthenshire , ii, 201, 261, 421;
  • J. Thickens , Emynau a’u Hawduriaid , 1945 ;
  • Cardiff Free Libraries, Catalogue of Printed Literature in the Welsh Department , 1898 .

Author:

Rev. John Dyfnallt Owen, M.A., (1873-1956), Aberystwyth

Published date: 2001