Dictionary of Welsh Biography

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THOMAS , DAVID RICHARD ( 1833 - 1916 ), cleric and historian ;

b. in 1833 (christened 14 Sept. 1833 ), the second son and third child of Owen Thomas , ‘ gentleman farmer ,’ of Bodynfol , Llanfechain , and Mary his wife. He was educated at Ruthin school under E. L. Barnwell , and went to Jesus College , Oxford , in 1852 , although the family was reduced in circumstances owing to his father's sudden death, and he was forced to teach in the vacations in order to maintain himself; he graduated in 1856 and, in 1859 , applied for a Fellowship, but was not elected. In 1857 he was ordained curate of Rhuddlan ; afterwards he became curate of Selatyn ( 1859-64 ), vicar of Cefn Meiriadog ( 1864-77 ), vicar of Meifod ( 1877-92 ), and rector of Llandrinio ( 1892-1916 ); he was appointed canon of S. Asaph in 1881 and archdeacon of Montgomery in 1886 . He was a hard-working parish priest , a conscientious archdeacon , a zealous defender of his Church, and the author of four religious books . But, for all that, he is best known to the general public as a historian and antiquary . He was a tower of strength to the Cambrian Archaeological Association : chairman of its committee, and twice ( 1875-80 , 1884-8 ) editor of Arch. Camb. , to which he contributed more than twenty-five articles. Similarly, he was chairman of the committee of the Powysland Club , and for many years editor of Mont. Coll. , to which he contributed regularly. In addition to these antiquarian labours (he was by this time a F.S.A. ), one should not omit a reference to his edition of Y Cwtta Cyfarwydd , 1883 , the work of Peter Roberts , his own History of the Parish of Llandrinio , 1895 , and, a book which commanded a far wider popular appeal, The Life and Work of Bishop Richard Davies and William Salesbury , 1902 . But his magnum opus is his History of the Diocese of St. Asaph , which was published in its original form in 1870-4 , but which was enlarged into three volumes, 1906-13 . Up to the present, S. Asaph is the only one of the Welsh dioceses which has had its history investigated in such detail; and the debt which later research workers owe to the archdeacon for this splendid work is incalculable. A short handbook on the history of the diocese was published by him in 1888 . He d. 11 Oct. 1916 .


  • Foster , Alumni Oxonienses ;
  • memorial notices in Archaeologia Cambrensis , 1916 , 369-72, and Collections Historical and Archaeological relating to Montgomeryshire , xxxviii, 269-77;
  • The National Library of Wales Journal , summer 1946 , 214-6;
  • Williams , Llyfryddiaeth Sir Ddinbych (1935-7, 1951) , 163-4 (a list of his publications).


Emeritus Professor Robert Thomas Jenkins, C.B.E., D.Litt., Ll.D., F.S.A., (1881-1969), Bangor

Published date: 1959