Alfred Thomas, 1st Baron Pontypridd

(16 September 1840 – 14 December 1927)

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 (offices in Grangetown, Cardiff), in whose business Thomas worked as a young man.

Thomas became member of Cardiff Borough Council for Roath in 1875 and served on the council until 1886, being mayor in 1881-2. As mayor he was central to the decision to locate the University College of South Wales and Monmouthshire in Cardiff, rather than Swansea. He gave £1,000 towards the building fund. He was created a Freeman of the borough in 1887. At the 1885 general election Thomas was elected Member of Parliament for East Glamorganshire, and represented the constituency until his retirement at the December 1910 general election. In 1891, 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. He was also 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. He was elected Chairman of the Welsh Parliamentary Liberal Party in 1898. Thomas was knighted in 1902, and raised to the peerage as Baron Pontypridd, of Cardiff in the County of Glamorgan, in 1912,[1] with the motto "Bit Ben Bit Bont" (Let Him Be Himself the Bridge), a motto taken from the Mabinogion.

Apart from his political career Thomas was a 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 Baptist Union of Wales for 1886. 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 1904–1905 Welsh Revival.

Lord Pontypridd never married and the title became extinct on his death in December 1927, aged 87. 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.

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