Dictionary of Welsh Biography

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THOMAS , DAVID ( 1794 - 1882 ), pioneer of the iron industry in U.S.A. ;

b. 3 Nov. 1794 , the son of David and Jane Thomas , Ty-llwyd farm, parish of Cadoxton-juxta-Neath, Glam. He attended schools at Allt-wen ( Pontardawe ) and Neath , worked on his father's farm for a while, and then ( 1812 ) started in the Neath Abbey Iron Works . In 1817 he was working in the Ynyscedwyn Anthracite Iron Works , where he was in charge of blast furnaces , etc. During his stay of about twenty-two years there he experimented with the use of anthracite coal as a smelting fuel ; he has the honour of having made, at Ynyscedwyn , the first ‘anthracite’ iron ever cast in the world . This success caused him to be invited by the Lehigh Coal and Navigation Company , Pennsylvania , U.S.A. Emigrating to that continent in June 1839 he had, by next year, effected almost revolutionary changes in the iron industry . Thereafter his career was most successful and he became one of the great ironmasters of the world. In 1840 he organised the first Presbyterian church at Casanqua . He d. 20 June 1882 .


  • The Cambrian (Cincinnati), 1885 , 104-8, 133-6;
  • Y Drych newyddiadur cenedlaethol Cymry America (Utica), 2 March 1909 ;
  • Hanes Cymry America (1872) , 163;
  • Edwards , Welshmen as Factors in the Formation and Development of the United States Republic (1899) ;
  • The Red Dragon , 1883 , 289.


Robert (Bob) Owen, O.B.E., M.A., (1885-1962), Croesor

Published date: 1959