Charles, Thomas

Anglican clergyman and Welsh Calvinistic Methodist leader, he was born on 14 October 1755 at Llanfihangel Abercywyn, Carmarthenshire. He was converted in 1773 while at Carmarthen Academy, through hearing Daniel Rowland preach. He was at Jesus College, Oxford from 1775 to 1779. Ordained deacon in 1778, and priested in 1780, he served in various curacies in Somerset until he migrated to Bala in 1783. He was appointed curate of nearby Llanymawddwy in 1784, but owing to his support for the Methodists was soon dismissed.

Having thrown in his lot with the Methodists, he made Bala the centre of their activities in North Wales. He established schools and produced literature which included a catechism, a Bible dictionary and a periodical called Y Drysorfa Ysbrydol (The Spiritual Treasury). Due to the demand for Welsh Bibles, he worked, with others, towards the establishment of the British and Foreign Bible Society in 1804. During annual visits to London, he preached at Lady Huntingdon's Spa Fields Chapel. Although he had for many years fostered Welsh Methodism's links with the established Church, in 1811 he took a leading role in theordinations which marked the establishment of Welsh Calvinistic Methodism as a separate denomination. He died at Bala on 5 October 1814.

His younger brother David Charles (1762-1834) was also associated with the Calvinistic Methodists, began to preach in 1808 and was ordained in 1811. His reputation as a preacher was widespread throughout Wales.

David Charles (1812-1878), the grandson of Thomas Charles, was brought up an Anglican and graduated from Jesus College, Oxford in 1835, but became a Calvinistic Methodist minister. From 1842 to 1863 he was Principal pf Trevecca College and in his later years was closely associated with the University College of Wales, Aberystwyth. He was secretary of the University of Wales Movement 1768-1772, retired to Aberdyfi and died there in 1878.

  • D.E. Jenkins, The Life of Thomas Charles (1908; 2nd edition, 1910)
  • R.T. Jones, Thomas Charles o'r Bala (Cardiff, 1979);
  • Dictionary of Welsh Biography
  • Dictionary of Evangelical Biography
  • Oxford DNB