Dictionary of Welsh Biography

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POWELL , THOMAS ( 1608? - 1660 ), cleric ;

b. in the parish of Cantref , Brecknock , son of John Powell , rector of Cantref , 1601-26 . According to Wood he was b. in 1608 but, according to Foster , he was 18 years of age on 25 Jan. 1627/8 . He was educated at Jesus College , Oxford ( B.A. 1629 , M.A. 1632 , D.D. 1660 ). He obtained the living of Cantref , 4 May 1635 — his eldest brother, Hugh Powell , being the patron . In 1650 , under the Commonwealth , he lost the living and spent some time in exile. In 1651 he published a translation of a book by the Italian Virgilio Malvezzi under the title Stoa Triumphans: or Two Sober Paradoxes, I. The Praise of Banishment, II. The Dispraise of Honors , but no special significance should be attached to the title, for in Feb. and March 1653/4 he and two fellow-clerics were seeking permission to preach from Jenkin Jones of Llanddety (q.v.) , one of the approvers appointed under the Act for the propagation of the Gospel in Wales . It is possible that his exile was due to the fact that he had ignored Jenkin Jones 's prohibition. His only Welsh book, Cerbyd Iechydwriaeth , 1657 , is tainted with the bitterness of those years. He was restored to his parish in 1660 and was appointed canon of S. Davids . According to tradition he was nominated bishop of Bristol , but d. 31 Dec. 1660 , before he could be elected. His grave is in the church of S. Dunstans in the West , London .

Wood gives a list of his works. Henry Vaughan (q.v.) , the poet , was his closest friend and it was to him that he left his works still in manuscript, among others his ‘ Fragmenta de Rebus Britannicis, A Short Account of the Lives, Manners, and Religion of the British Druids and Bards .’


  • Wood , Athenae Oxonienses (1813–20) (ed. Bliss ), iii, 507;
  • Henry Vaughan , The Works of Henry Vaughan (Oxford, 1914) (ed. L. C. Martin );
  • Hutchinson , Henry Vaughan. A life and interpretation (Oxford, 1947) ;
  • T. Richards , A History of the Puritan Movement in Wales (1920) , 252;
  • Theophilus Jones , History of the County of Brecknock , 1911, iv, 50 (some of the dates are incorrect);
  • Journal of the Welsh Bibliographical Society , vi, 293.


Garfield Hopkin Hughes, M.A., (1912-69), Aberystwyth

Published date: 1959