Dictionary of Welsh Biography



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THOMAS , ALBAN (d. 1740? ), cleric, poet, and translator ; a native of Rhos , Blaen-porth, Cards. ; curate of Blaen-porth and Tre-main , 1722-40 . He was a prominent figure in a remarkable literary revival which characterised Newcastle Emlyn and the surrounding countryside at the end of the 17th and the beginning of the 18th centuries ; for details, see Ifano Jones , Hist. of Printing and Printers in Wales , and the references given therein. To bibliographers Alban Thomas is of interest as the author of Cân o Senn i'w hên Feistr Tobacco , 1718 , one of the two first works (both of them in ballad form) to issue from the first permanent printing press established in Wales , viz. that of Isaac Carter (q.v.) , Trefhedyn ( Adpar ), Newcastle Emlyn . ‘ A.T. ,’ i.e. Alban Thomas , together with ‘ J.Ll. ,’ was responsible for the publication of a 1722 book printed by Carter , viz. Dwysfawr Rym Buchedd Crefyddol … Gwedi ei Cyfieithu i'r Gymraeg ; Alban Thomas being also the translator of the work. In 1729 another translation by him was printed by Carter , this time at Carmarthen , whither he had removed his press; this was Llythyr Bugeilaidd oddi wrth Weinidog at ei Blwyfolion . Poems by him, in free and strict metres, are preserved in Llanst. MSS. 133 and 145 , N.L.W. MSS. 5 and 19 , and in ( Cardiff ) Tonn MS. 16 in the Cardiff Public Library . His son,

ALBAN THOMAS ( 1686 - 1771 ), was a physician in London , who appears to have practised under the auspices of Sir Hans Sloane . He matriculated in the University of Oxford as from Jesus College . He was librarian of the Ashmolean Museum , Oxford , c. 1708 ; whilst in 1713 he was assistant-secretary of the Royal Society , London . In 1719 he graduated M.D. at Aberdeen . It was this connection with Aberdeen which led some persons in Government circles to suspect that he had Jacobite leanings; it is known that he left London suddenly in March 1722 and was obliged to stay away from the capital for some time before he could venture to return. After his return, however, he was unable to resume his medical work and had to retire to his native district where he practised until the end of his life. Just as the father had been prominently connected with the literary revival in south Cardiganshire , so also was the son connected with the efforts made by Moses Williams (q.v.) to preserve and publish Welsh manuscript material . This probably explains why he was prepared to receive subscriptions (‘ Subscriptions taken in by Mr. Alban Thomas at the Royal Society's House in Crane-Court , Fleet Street ,’ London ) in 1719 towards the ‘ Collection of Writings in the Welsh Tongue, to the beginning of the Sixteenth Century, to be printed in several Volumes in Octavo ,’ which Moses Williams hoped to see published. Extracts from two letters written by him from Newcastle Emlyn to Sir Hans Sloane are given in West Wales Hist. Records , vii, 218-9; he also published, 1718 , A List of Fellows of the Royal Society of London . S. R. Meyrick ( Hist. of County Cardigan ) tells how Thomas came to marry the woman whom Moses Williams had hoped to make his wife; his second wife was Margaret Jones , Tyglyn Aeron, Cards. , daughter of the high sheriff of Cardiganshire .

Bibliography:

  • To the references given above add National Library of Wales Manuscript 309;
  • J. Davies , Bywyd a Gwaith Moses Williams, (1685-1742) , 1937 ;
  • D. Silvan Evans Gwaith y Parch. Walter Davies (Gwallter Mechain) , 3 volumes, Carmarthen, 1866-1868 ;
  • J. H. Davies , A Bibliography of Welsh Ballads printed in the 18th century , 1908-11 .

Author:

Sir William Llewelyn Davies, M.A., LL.D., F.S.A. (1887-1952), Aberystwyth