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Alfred Thomas, 1st Baron Pontypridd (16 September 1840 – 14 December 1927), was a Welsh Liberal Party politician.

Born in Penylan, Cardiff, Wales, Thomas was educated at Weston School, near Bath. His father was Daniel Thomas, a contractor, in whose business young Alfred worked. He became member of Cardiff Borough Council for Roath, in 1875 and served on the council until 1886, being mayor in 1881-2. He was created a Freeman of the borough in 1887. At the 1885 general election he was elected Member of Parliament for East Glamorganshire in 1885, and represented the constituency until his retirement at the December 1910 general election. In 1891, Alfred Thomas, working with T. E. Ellis introduced the National Institutions (Wales) Bill, providing for a Secretary of State for Wales and a University of Wales, as well as a Welsh Parliament, to be located in Aberystwyth. The Bill did not secure a Second Reading. Alfred Thomas was involved with Cymru Fydd, serving as President of the Welsh National Federation, the body formed by the merger of Cymru Fydd and the North Wales Liberal Federation.

Extra-Parliamentary posts held by Alfred Thomas included Justice of the Peace for Cardiff and Glamorgan, Deputy Lieutenant for Glamorgan, first President of the National Museum of Wales, President of Cardiff University and President of the Welsh Baptist Union for 1886.

As mayor of Cardiff, he was central to the decision to locate the University College of South Wales and Monmouthshire in Cardiff, rather than Swansea. Thomas gave £1,000 towards the building fund.

Alfred Thomas was a staunch Nonconformist, a member and deacon of Tabernacle Baptist Church, Cardiff. Despite his busy Parliamentary career, he made every effort to attend the mid-week prayer meeting, and combined his Parliamentary duties with the post of superintendent of the Sunday School, which he held for a generation. His election as a deacon of Tabernacle was one of his most prized honours, being conferred on him by those who knew him best. He composed hymn tunes and was committed to the cause of gospel temperance. He was involved in the 1904-5 religious revival in Wales.

Alfred Thomas was elected Chairman of the Welsh Parliamentary Liberal Party in 1898. He was knighted in 1902, and raised to the peerage as Baron Pontypridd in 1912, with the motto "Bit Ben Bit Bont" (Let Him Be Himself the Bridge), a motto taken from the Mabinogion. The title became extinct on his death, unmarried. He left almost all of his estate, including his home, Bronwydd, Penylan, to the City of Cardiff. He is buried with his parents in Cathays Cemetery.

Bronwydd Penylan no longer exists, having been demolished as part of the construction of Eastern Avenue, but a 'Bonwydd Close' nearby recalls its location.

Sources

  • Dictionary of Welsh Biography
  • 'Great Welshmen of Modern Days' by Sir Thomas Hughes.
  • Thomas Family Monument, Cathays Cemetery, Cardiff
  • Alfred Thomas Papers, Cardiff Central Library
Parliament of the United Kingdom
New constituency Member of Parliament for East Glamorganshire
18851910
Succeeded by
Allen Clement Edwards
Peerage of the United Kingdom
New creation Baron Pontypridd
1912–1927
Extinct
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