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John Thomas

First, a few basic details about John Thomas:

Birth Date Place  
   circa 1791 Possibly Llanelli  
Marriage Date Place Spouse
  28th August 1810 (or 1812) Llanelli Mary Bowen
Children - names Birth dates Christening dates Places
Mary Thomas circa 1811   Carmarthenshire
John Thomas circa 1815 15th December 1815, Capel Als Llanelly, Carmarthan
William Thomas 24th May 1819 2nd February, 1822, Capel Als Llanelly, Carmarthan
Rachel Thomas circa 1822 2nd February, 1822, Capel Als Llanelly, Carmarthan
Rachel Thomas 27th November 1823 16th April 1826, Capel Als Llanelly, Carmarthan
Walter Thomas 17th March, 1826 16th April 1826, Capel Als Llanelly, Carmarthan
George Thomas 26th March, 1829 23rd May 1829, Capel Als Llanelly, Carmarthan
Addresses Places Dates Source
  The Copperworks at Poulton-cum-Seacombe (possibly Bibby's Works) 1841-1856 1841 census
1851 census
Wife's death cert
Death Date Place Reason
  8th November 1844 Poulton-cum-Seacombe Liver Disease

It is not known for sure where or when John Thomas was born. His approximate date of birth is based on his death certificate which gives his age as 53 years old. Similarly, we do not yet know for certain that his wife's maiden name was Bowen, though we are fairly sure of this now, as one of the witnesses at their eldest daughter's marriage was a Bowen. So what do we know?....

John Thomas was born circa 1791 (c.f. death certificate), probably in Llanelli, Carmarthenshire, or nearby. He married Mary (Bowen?) prior to 1811 when their daughter Mary was born. As John was only about 20 years old at the time, the likelihood is that he married between 1809 and 1811. The most likely one found on the IGI is the one to Mary Bowen (as shown in the table above). John's wife was born circa 1787 in Carmarthenshire.

Just a note: According to my father's notes, his grandfather, John Thomas (the grandson of this John here) was born in Aberavon. This is most definitely untrue, but maybe the information refers to this John Thomas?

John Thomas was a copper refiner. Copper mining in this country had all but died out by the time he was born, and copper was usually imported and then refined where it was needed.

John & Mary's daughter, Mary only gives her birthplace as "Carmarthenshire" on the 1851 census. The first reference to Llanelli (spelt Llanelly on all English documents until the 1970s) is with daughter Mary's marriage to John Clements in 1825 (she was only about 14 at the time). John & Mary Thomas's other children (see table) were all Christened in Llanelli, and all give their birthplace as Llanelli on later censuses.

Note the 11-year gap between their first child and the last three. It is almost certain there were other children born during this time (and just as certain one would be called "John"!), but they we not living "at home" by the 1841 census and John & Mary Thomas are not unusual names, so searching the IGI for children is not helpful.

Sometime between 1829 and 1841, John & Mary Thomas with their three youngest children moved to live in Poulton-cum-Seacombe, on the Wirral in Cheshire.

John died in 1844 of liver disease. He is buried in St Hillary's Church, Wallasey. His gravestone, a flat slate stone, is still in pristine condition (seen in 1999) and is inscribed as follows, with a dedication in Welsh:


of John Thomas, Seacombe Copperworks
(Formerly of Llanelli)
who died April 8th 1844
Aged 53 years

Oi dywydd galwyd Ioan, ei enaid
A laniodd yn Nghanaan:
Er ei roi ir oer raian,
Daw ar lef Mab Duw ir lan.

Translated as:
From stormy weather Ioan was called
His soul did land in Canaan
Despite being given to the cold gravel earth
God's son will lead him ashore.

The references in the dedication are obscure and it is doubtful we shall ever know their significance.

The 1851 census finds his widow, Mary, still living at the copperworks, but with her daughter Mary (recently widowed too) and her children. This family seemed to have moved to Seacombe around the time that John Thomas died.

John's widow, Mary, died on the 10th April 1856 of Phthsis. It is not known where she was buried; she is not mentioned on the gravestone of her husband or in the burial records of St Hillary's church.

Note: Thanks to the Carmarthenshire Family History Society for the Welsh translation of the gravestone.