Dictionary of Welsh Biography

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THOMAS , JOHN ( 1736 - 1769 ), cleric and antiquary ;

b. 22 Oct. 1736 at Tyddyn Ysguboriau , Ynyscynhaearn, Caerns. , son of Thomas Rowland ; Richard Thomas ( 1753 - 1780 ) (q.v.) was his brother, and Ellis Owen of Cefnymeusydd (q.v.) was his sister's son. He was schooled at Llanystumdwy , Llanegryn , Botwnnog , and Friars ( Bangor ). He matriculated 20 March 1755 from Jesus College , Oxford , where John Lloyd ‘of Caerwys ’ ( 1733 - 1793 ) (q.v.) was a friend of his; and he was ordained at Oxford in 1760 . He was ‘ under-keeper of the Museum ’ there, but could not live on his stipend — not (says William Morris of Anglesey ) because it was inadequate but because he was a hard drinker ; so he took a curacy at Holyhead at the end of 1760 . At the end of 1761 he became usher at Friars school , a post to which the curacy of Llandygài was attached. In 1766 , his former incumbent at Holyhead , Richard Langford , was appointed master of Beaumaris grammar school , but exercised his functions by deputy John Thomas ; it is thus not technically accurate to describe Thomas as ‘ Master ,’ as is generally done. To his new post were attached curacies at Llansadwrn and Llandegfan . He died suddenly on Easter Monday (27 March) 1769 , at Castellior house , and was buried at Llandegfan ‘aged 33,’ says his memorial there, but more strictly, in his thirty-third year. By the unanimous testimony of all three Morrises , of Hugh Hughes ( Bardd Coch , who wrote an elegy upon him), and of Ieuan Fardd , he was a remarkably good Welsh scholar , and a masterly genealogist .

He was a copyist of old Welsh manuscripts ; these passed to his brother Richard , after whose death they were dispersed; Ellis Owen says that Hugh Maurice (q.v.) used many of them in preparing the Myvyrian Archaiology . None of John Thomas 's work was published during his life, but Sir J. E. Lloyd has shown (on the testimony of John Lloyd of Caerwys and of Gwallter Mechain ) that he was the author of the anonymous History of the Island of Anglesey of 1775 , and William Williams of Llandygài (q.v.) , included in his own Observations on the Snowdon Mountains ( 1802 ) a ‘ Genealogical Account of the Families of Penrhyn and Cochwillan ’ by John Thomas .


  • J. E. Griffith , Pedigrees of Anglesey and Carnarvonshire Families (1914) , 359;
  • Foster , Alumni Oxonienses ;
  • Y Gwyliedydd , 1831 , 186;
  • Y Brython , 1864 , 54;
  • John Williams , David Hughes, M. A., and his free grammar school at Beaumaris an historical essay (Bangor, 1864) ( 1933 ed.), 26;
  • The Letters of Lewis, Richard, William, and John Morris, of Anglesey, (Morrisiaid Môn) 1728-1765 (1907–9) and Additional Letters of the Morrises of Anglesey (1735-86). Y Cymmrodor , xlix, (1947-9) (indexes);
  • Y Traethodydd , 1906 , 309-11;
  • Journal of the Welsh Bibliographical Society , 1920 , 129-35; 1944 , 110-11.


Helen Myfanwy Ramage, M.A., ( -1992), Llanfaes, Beaumaris

Published date: 1959