Williams, Thomas (1760-1844) (DNB00)

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WILLIAMS, THOMAS (1760–1844), Welsh hymn-writer, son of Richard and Margaret Williams, was born in 1760 at Trerhedyn, in the parish of Pen Deulwyn, Glamorganshire. At a very early age he joined the methodist society which met in the district. On 10 July 1790 he married Jane Morgan of Brewis, and thereupon settled as a farmer, in easy circumstances, at Fonmon in south Glamorgan. The controversy which led to the expulsion of Peter Williams [q. v.] from the methodist body was keenly waged in the society to which he belonged, and about 1792 he and others who sympathised with the expelled divine formed a separate church, unconnected with any other religious body, at Aberthaw, not far from Fonmon. On 3 June 1798 this church formally set him apart as their pastor. In 1806, when Williams moved to Flemingston, they built in the parish of Lantwit Major a chapel which became known as ‘Bethesda 'r Fro’ (‘Bethesda of the Vale’), and in 1814 church and pastor were received into the independent denomi- nation. After the death of his wife on 24 Oct. 1827 Williams in his depression gave up the ministry. He died at Flemingston on 23 Nov. 1844.

His first published work was a (Welsh) elegy upon Peter Williams (Carmarthen, 1796). After this nothing appeared from his pen until 1812, when he published at Merthyr a small volume of hymns entitled ‘Llais y Durtur yn y Wlad;’ this was reissued, with large additions, in 1824 (Cardiff), as ‘Dyfroedd Bethesda;’ and a third edition, with the same title, followed in 1841 (Merthyr). ‘Perl mewn adfyd’ (Merthyr, 1814) was also a collection of hymns. Elegies written by Williams, and published in pamphlet form in 1817, 1828, and 1830, are extant. His poetical works were published in one volume at Hafod in 1882. His fame rests upon his hymns, many of which are still in high favour among Welsh congregations. Contemporaries speak of his handsome presence, his emotional temperament, and the influence which his career and social standing gave him among the nonconformists of south Glamorgan.

[Hanes Eglwysi Annibynol Cymru, ii. 233–41; Methodistiaeth Cymru, iii. 95; Rowlands's Llyfryddiaeth y Cymry; Ashton's Hanes Llenyddiaeth Cymreig; Catalogue of the Welsh books in Cardiff Public Library, 1898.]

J. E. L.