1793 Rees Thomas was born in Talyllyn, Merionethshire. Rees was baptised Rhys Thomas on 20th January 1793 at Talyllyn church, the second youngest child of Edward Thomas and Sarah Rees. He was presumably named after his mother's family. Sarah may have been given her father's christian name as her surname - and he used the anglicised form 'Rees' throughout his adult life. The spelling of christian names and surnames in the church records was often at the whim of the incumbent and it is likely that the spelling of 'Rhys' was not the choice of his parents. As they were illiterate they were not in a position to challenge the entry! In any event, as he regarded himself as Rees Thomas, his preference supersedes that of the church. The names 'Rees' and 'Thomas' have therefore been in the family for certainly two hundred and thirty years and probably for considerably longer.
His wife Elizabeth Lewis was born in Machynlleth, Montgomery (about 5 miles from Corris and 10 miles away from Talyllyn). They had seven children, six daughters and one son.
1824 The first child was their daughter Sarah who was born in Stockport in 1824 and baptised at the Independent Church in Churchgate, Stockport, on Christmas Day, 25th December 1824. It is not known why they were living in Stockport in 1824. The usual reason was an illegitimate child being born away from neighbours eyes, and this was probably the case here. In which case one would expect the marriage to be 1825.
1826 their next child, daughter Elizabeth Thomas was baptised at 4 March 1826 . She was born at the Old Factory in Upper Corris and baptised at Talyllyn Church. The daughter of Rees's sister Elinor was baptised on the same day and she also was named Elizabeth.
1827. By the time of the birth of Rees and Elizabeth's third child Eleanor Thomas 17 June 1827 the family lived at Maesygorwyr, which lies behind Tynyberth towards Llyn Eiddaw - the source of drinking water for Corris and Pennal. Rees and Elizabeth Thomas were to live at Maesygorwyr for some years and all their other children were born there.
1828. Edward Thomas, baptised 7 November 1828. He was their only son and died in infancy.
1830. Catherine Thomas baptised 31 January 1830
1832. Mary May Thomas baptised 6 May 1832
1834 Jane Thomas baptised 9 February 1834.
1835. Rees Thomas was appointed Clerk of Talyllyn Parish in May 1835. In subsequent records he is described as "Tailor/Taylor and Parish Clerk". It is not known whether it was at the time of his appointment or later that the family moved to a house abutting Talyllyn churchyard; but it seems reasonable to suppose that it was in 1835 that the Thomas family left Maesygorwyr. Certainly in 1841 the family lived in Tan'r Ewan (Under the Yew), later known as Tyriwen, one of two houses that backed onto the churchyard at Talyllyn. Jenny Jones, whose romantic, adventurous and ultimately sad life is given in the Talyllyn Church pamphlet and whose grave is marked by a fine if mysterious edifice, also lived for a time at Tan'r Ewan with her then husband, Lewis Griffiths. Having survived the Battle of Waterloo, Lewis Griffiths was tragically killed in the slate quarry in 1837. There is now no trace of the pair of houses that were known as Tan'r Ewan.
shows Rhys Thomas, age: 45, born: Merionethshire,
Wales. A tailor, living at Tan'r Ewan, in the township of Corris, parish Talyllyn
with family below. Undoubtedly there were older children, but have not been
picked up because the 1841 census is the earliest census. By the time "children"
got to 15 they were working down the mines or away as servants.
Rhys Thomas 45
Elizabeth Thomas 40 (not born in Merionethshire)
Elinor Thomas 13
Catherine Thomas 11
Mary Thomas 9
Jane Thomas 6
Sarah and Elizabeth had left home by now. Sarah was in Tynyberth and Elizabeth, now fifteen, was likely to be working as a domestic servant elsewhere. There is an 1841 record of an Elizabeth Thomas aged fifteen being employed by Hugh Jones, a farmer at Tycroes in Llanfihangel Y Pennant. In addition to the same name and age, another fact supporting this being our Elizabeth Thomas is that Rees's Elizabeth gave birth to an illegitimate daughter, baptised Margaret Jones in October 1846. Hugh Jones the farmer had an eligible agricultural labourer five years older than Elizabeth who was also named Hugh Jones. Sadly Margaret Jones died in January 1848.
1851 census Rees Thomas age: 58, born: Talyllyn, Merionethshire, Wales living at Corris with his wife Elizabeth Thomas 53. There is no one else in the household at Tan'r Ewan on this date. He is listed as "tailor & parish clerk". The children had dispersed.; Jane, although still living with her parents, was visiting her uncle David Thomas at Tynyberth in Upper Corris. It may well be that Jane was combining family duties with her courtship by Evan Pugh!
1853 his daughter Jane Thomas marries (marriage cert). 6 August 1853 at Talyllyn Parish Church Evan Pugh age 26 a miner from Craig y fachddn, son of Richard Pugh, labourer, marries Jane Thomas age 20 from Tan y Ewan, daughter of Rhys Thomas, a parish clerk.
1855. Following David Thomas's death in 1855 aged 76, Rees Thomas and Elizabeth moved from Tan'r Ewan in Talyllyn to Fron Yw in Dolgellau
Fron Yw, South Street, Dolgellau
1857 his wife Elizabeth Lewis died 20 Dec 1857 She was buried at Talyllyn on the Christmas Eve. Rees Thomas continued to live in Dolgellau at Fron Yw with two of his unmarried daughters Catherine and Mary. In censuses, Catherine is described as a housekeeper and Mary variously as housekeeper and cook. So it would appear that Rees Thomas was well looked after in the evening of his life.
1861 census Rees Thomas, age: 68, born: Talyllyn, Merionethshire, Wales, a retired tailor, living only with daughter Catherine Thomas 29, housekeeper. Their address is Fron Yw, in the township of Dolgellau.
1870 d. 26 October 1870 in Dolgellau at Fron Yw aged 77. In his will he left the freehold property to his daughters, Catherine and Mary, during their lifetime and then to his grandson Rees Pugh. He also stipulated that should one of the daughters get married then the one remaining single could continue to live at Fron Yw if she so wished for an annual payment to her sister of £3. He left his Cambrian Railway share to Rees Pugh. The executor of the will was Rees Thomas's son-in-law Evan Roberts, the husband of Sarah Thomas. He was a Welsh Presbyterian minister and at the time they lived in 10 Western Road in Handsworth near Birmingham.
1871 census gives his still unmarried daughter Catherine (head of household) as living at (fron Yw) 14 South St, Dolgellau, with her also unmarried sister Mary. They are both housekeepers. It is not known what happened to Catherine but Rees Thomas's daughter Mary was still at Fron Yw in 1881. The census also lists 23 year old dressmaker Eliza Jones, described as ‘boarder’. The unmarried Mary’s age is recorded as 46 and occupation ‘formerly cook’. It was at Fron Yw that Mary died on 23 August 1884 aged 50. She died intestate and the Letters of Administration for £147 were granted to her sister Sarah who by then lived in Iban House, Llanbeblig Road, Caernarfon. The husband Rev. Evan Roberts is reputed within the family to have 'fiddled the books' regarding Fron Yw!
Grave of Rees Thomas at Tal-y-Llyn Church