Thomas family of Camborne

The Thomas family were connected with Methodism in the Camborne area from its very beginning. William Thomas (1721-1802) of Bolenowe was known to have been a member of a Methodist Society in Troon. He was a miner and a small farmer. His son Charles Thomas who was a Mine Agent appears as a Local Preacher on an 1821 Redruth Wesleyan Circuit Plan. He married Mary Ivey in 1794 who organised the first missionary teas in Camborne. Their son Charles Thomas (1795-1868) began a family connection with the very prosperous Dolcoath copper and tin mine near Camborne. He was the Mine Agent there and also Manager. He was a Local Preacher and Class Leader at Killivose near Camborne and there is a tablet to him in Camborne Wesley Chapel. During this time Camborne grew from a small churchtown village to become a large town and a major industrial centre. Dolcoath Mine contributed greatly to this growing prosperity.

His son Josiah Thomas (1833-1901) was also Manager of Dolcoath Mine and under him the prosperity of the mine continued to grow. Josiah Thomas was a very popular and eloquent Local Preacher, serving for 49 years as such. He was a Trustee of Camborne Wesley Chapel for 39 years.There is a tablet to him in the same chapel. He also served on Cornwall County Council in its early years.

Charles Vivian Thomas (1859-1941) was the son of Josiah Thomas. By his time the copper boom in Cornwall had passed and tin mining had also declined. C.V. Thomas became a solicitor in 1882 and built up a successful legal practice. Like his father Josiah, he was elected to Cornwall County Council. He succeeded Arthur Quiller Couch as Chairman of Cornwall Education Committee and was important in promoting technical education. In 1922 he became an Alderman of Cornwall County Council. In politics he was a Liberal Unionist. He became a Local Preacher in 1881 and attracted large congregations throughout his preaching career. He was also a Class Leader and held held other offices. He was a generous supporter of Camborne Wesley Chapel and Methodism generally.

C.V.Thomas gave very large sums towards the promotion of the University College of the South West at Exeter which later became Exeter University. There were not only large donations to education but also large sums to hospitals in Truro and Redruth. In 1936 he gave the North Cliffs to the National Trust and in 1938 he gave £5,000 to replace the St. Ives lifeboat, so tragically lost, with a new one named after his late son, Clifford.

Donald Woodroff Thomas (1891-1959) was the son of C.V.Thomas and to a great extent followed his father in his service to Camborne and Cornwall. He was a senior partner in the law firm of Daniell and Thomas. He was a senior trustee of Camborne Wesley Chapel and held several important offices in that chapel and in the Camborne Circuit. He was also treasurer of the Cornwall Methodist District Sunday School Council. He had an important interest in education in Cornwall, serving on the Education Committee, and also on the Methodist Connexional Education Committee.

He contributed to public and private education as well as to the technical college at Trevenson. He was Clerk to the East Penwith Magistrates. He represented Camborne (South) on Cornwall County Council 1937-1955 and was a County Alderman 1955-1959. He is commerorated in the Donald Thomas Centre in Camborne. His son was the late Charles Anthony Thomas.

  • Journal of the Cornish Methodist Historical Association (Volume IX No.5 (2001)pp.167-168)
  • West Briton (newspaper) 20.12.1898 and 22.1.1959.

Entry written by: CA
Category: Person
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