Dictionary of Welsh Biography

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ELLIS , THOMAS ( 1625 - 1673 ), cleric and antiquary .

The son of Griffith Ellis of Ystumllyn near Criccieth , he was educated at Oxford , where he became ( 1649 ) a Fellow of Jesus College . He was at Jesus College when the Puritan visitors appeared there in 1648 ; to their subtle question whether he meant to submit to the authority of Parliament in this visitation, he answered he could not ‘without the hazard of shipwrackinge of my soule.’ He surrendered later, was made Fellow of Jesus College in 1649 , appointed censor also, and was in the forefront of the persistent attacks made on the pseudo-Puritan principal , Michael Roberts (d. 1679 ) (q.v.) . At the Restoration he retained his Fellowship and became vice-principal under the restored principal , Francis Mansell (q.v.) . He was sadly disappointed at not being made principal on Mansell 's retirement in 1661 and practically went into retirement. Following the death of John Ellis (d. 1665 ) (q.v.) , usually referred to as his kinsman, he was made rector of Dolgelley in 1666 , and held the living till his death in 1673 . As an antiquary , Ellis had a high reputation enhanced by his friendship and co-operation with Robert Vaughan of Hengwrt (q.v.) , but this reputation was somewhat diminished in his own lifetime by his unconvincing reasons for not printing his revised edition of David Powel 's Historic ; and posterity (represented by the late Sir John Edward Lloyd ) has dealt another blow at this reputation by declaring that the Memoirs of Owen Glendower , usually attributed to Ellis , were originally written by Robert Vaughan , and that Ellis was a mere copyist or reviser .


  • J. E. Griffith , Pedigrees of Anglesey and Carnarvonshire Families (1914) , 265;
  • Jesus College Manuscripts ;
  • Hardy , Jesus College (1899) , 121-4, 129-30;
  • M. Burrows , The Register of the Visitors of the University of Oxford, 1647–58 (1881) , 99-100;
  • Wynne MSS. (All Souls), 239 (578), 240 (512-6);
  • The Transactions of the Honourable Society of Cymmrodorion , 1922-3 , 1-110;
  • Calendar of Patent Rolls , 17 Chas. II, iii, 25;
  • J. E. Lloyd , Owen Glendower / Owen Glyn Dwr (1931) .


Thomas Richards, D.Litt., (1878-1962), Bangor

Published date: 1959