Thomas Rees (Congregational minister)

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Thomas Rees (by John Thomas, 1875) Thomas Rees.jpg
Thomas Rees (by John Thomas, 1875)

Thomas Rees (13 December 1815 – 29 April 1885) was a Welsh Congregational minister and historian of nonconformism.

Nonconformist Protestant Christians in Wales and England who did not follow the established Church of England

In English church history, a Nonconformist was a Protestant who did not "conform" to the governance and usages of the established Church of England. Broad use of the term was precipitated after the Restoration of the British monarchy in 1660, when the Act of Uniformity 1662 re-established the opponents of reform within the Church of England. By the late 19th century the term specifically included the Reformed Christians, plus the Baptists and Methodists. The English Dissenters such as the Puritans who violated the Act of Uniformity 1559—typically by practising radical, sometimes separatist, dissent—were retrospectively labelled as Nonconformists.


Early life

The son of Thomas Rees and his wife Hannah William, Rees was born at Pen Pontbren, Llanfynydd, Carmarthenshire, and brought up by his mother's family at Banc-y-fer, Llangathen, where he helped his grandfather, Dafydd William, a basket maker. He joined the Independent chapel at Capel Isaac and began to preach in March 1832. He took a job at a colliery at Llwydcoed, Aberdare, but fell ill and then set up a small school. In 1836 he moved to Craig-y-bargod, Merthyr Tudful, and took charge of a small school there. [1]

Llanfynydd village in Wales

Llanfynydd is a village, parish and community in Carmarthenshire, Wales. The population of the community taken at the 2011 census was 499. It lies some 10 miles north-east of the county town, Carmarthen.

Carmarthenshire unitary authority

Carmarthenshire is a unitary authority in southwest Wales, and one of the historic counties of Wales. The three largest towns are Llanelli, Carmarthen and Ammanford. Carmarthen is the county town and administrative centre.

Llangathen village in United Kingdom

Llangathen is a community located in Carmarthenshire, Wales. The population taken at the 2011 census was 507.


Rees was ordained a minister on 15 September 1836 and thereafter served at pastorates at Craig-y-Bargoed (1836), Trecynon, Aberdare (1840), Llanelli (1842), Cendl (Beaufort), Breconshire/Mon. (1849) and Abertawe (1860). [2] His chapel in Beaufort was Carmel Chapel and Beaufort was in the county of Brecknockshire (Breconshire) until 1879: see photos of Carmel Chapel on the Beaufort website. He was awarded an honorary doctorate of divinity in 1862 by Marietta College, Ohio. He was twice elected chairman of the Union of Welsh Independents (in 1873 and 1875), and elected chairman of the Congregational Union of England and Wales in 1884, but died before his term of office was to begin. [3]

Bargoed town in the Rhymney Valley, in the county borough of Caerphilly, Wales

Bargoed is a town and community in the Rhymney Valley, Wales, one of the South Wales Valleys. It lies on the Rhymney River in the county borough of Caerphilly and straddles the ancient boundary of Glamorgan and Monmouthshire, with Bargoed originally lying within the old county of Glamorganshire whereas Aberbargoed was in the old county of Monmouthshire. 'Greater Bargoed', as defined by the local authority Caerphilly County Borough Council, consists of the towns of Bargoed, Aberbargoed and the village of Gilfach. The combined population of these settlements is approximately 13,000.

Ebenezer, Trecynon is an Independent (Congregationalist) chapel in Ebenezer Street, Trecynon, Aberdare, Wales. It was one of the earliest Independent chapels in the Cynon Valley and remained an active place of worship until 2009.

Aberdare town in Wales

Aberdare is a town in the Cynon Valley area of Rhondda Cynon Taf, Wales, at the confluence of the Rivers Dare (Dâr) and Cynon. The population at the 2001 census was 31,705. Aberdare is 4 miles (6 km) south-west of Merthyr Tydfil, 20 miles (32 km) north-west of Cardiff and 22 miles (35 km) east-north-east of Swansea. During the 19th century it became a thriving industrial settlement, which was also notable for the vitality of its cultural life and as an important publishing centre.


Rees was widely known for his biblical commentaries. He was a co-founder of the first Welsh Independent quarterly, Yr Adolygydd. His History of Protestant Nonconformity in Wales (1861, 2nd ed. 1883) prepared the ground for a history of Welsh Independent churches, Hanes eglwysi Annibynol Cymru (1870 onwards), on the first four volumes of which he worked with John Thomas (1821–1892). He was criticized for denominational prejudice in the work, but made meticulous use of sources, so that it remains an important source work. [3]

Thomas Rees died at his home in Swansea on 29 April 1885.

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  1. ODNB entry by J. D. Lloyd. Retrieved 15 May 2012. Pay-walled.
  2. Surman Index Online, Dr Williams's Centre for Dissenting Studies. Retrieved 15 May 2012.
  3. 1 2 ODNB entry.

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