Could I submit the life of this man for possible inclusion in "The Hall of Fame"?
William Thomas was born in Hirgraig, Llanrhuddlad, Anglesey on the 5th December 1836. Hirgraig, since demolished, was on a N to S line where the back windows looked out onto Holyhead bay. Between the ages of four and a half and eight he attended the small "circular " school Ysgoldy about 200 yards from Hirgraig. This school was condemned by Gweirydd ap Rhys as an abomination, and at nine years of age William attended the excellent British school in Llanrhuddlad, newly established in 1846, where the master was Robert Llewelyn Foulkes, a brilliant and inspired teacher. The situation of his birthplace and his fortunate choice of teacher must have been of no small significance in the formation of the hugely successful career that lay ahead of the young William Thomas as he watched from his bedroom window the sailing ships entering and leaving Holyhead harbour. At age thirteen he was made a pupil teacher and he continued there until he was 17. At which age in 1854 he sailed from Porth Swtan to Holyhead where he caught a boat to Liverpool to take up a position as clerk in a shipping office. This boat could have been the Windermere Packet. William Thomas didn't return home for two years. In 1860 he set up in business as a ship insurance broker and manager. He lived at this time with an aunt living in 28 St Paul's Square, Liverpool. In a letter from his father, dated July 30th 1860, now in possession of Ruth Bennett-Jones, William's grand-daughter, refers to William being in London and of his father receiving two letters from him "and I can think that you have seen many wonders, and I hope that you have arrived back healthy and successful"
1862 He had an office at 4, Wellington Buildings, Benns Garden, Liverpool. (Benns Gardens were, in old directories, off Water Street) He traded under the title of "William Thomas & Co, Ship and Insurance Brokers"
1864 His office was now at 42 South Castle Street, his home address is still 28 St Paul's Square. Also in 1864, he was an elder at CM Chapel, Pall Mall
1866 He had a minor share in the Bideford brig "Clara Louise", owned by Capt William Thomas, Amlwch, ship builder.
1869 He acquired the 681 ton" William Melhuish", together with William Thomas, boat builder of Amlwch and William Thomas sea captain, of Newborough, neither 1872 He acquired the first of the large wooden North American vessels "North Star" that ,"I bought for myself and other friends as coowners and have had the sole control and management of them since". In the same year "Lady Young".
1873 "Sappho"; 1874, "Malabar","Julia"; 1875,"Buckhorn","Havelock".
By the seventies, his interest had switched from the schooner side of the management which he left to his brother Robert, to the ocean going wooden North American built bulk carriers. Robert John, eldest son was born on 23rd March this year, named after his two grandfathers.
1874 By this time he had shares in twenty-one vessels, most of them in the coastal schooner trade, "and consequently chartered and otherwise assisted more or less in the management of them". When the Bangor and Mutual Ship Insurance Company was incorporated in November of this year. William Thomas was one of its first directors. Shortly after he became a director of the Pwllheli and Nefyn Mutual Marine Insurance Societies. Margaret, a third daughter, was born on 18th November this year at 39 Aubrey Street.
1877 Second son William Melhuish was born on 1st October. The success of the voyage of the "William Melhuish" is certainly acknowleged here! His father in
law, John Thomas died on 9th May at 29, Moorfields, Liverpool. William was executor of the estate (under £200) and the will was proved on 14th January 1879. The estate was wholly for Mary, his mother in law.
1879 He moved to Marsh Villa, Marsh lane, Bootle where his daughter Annie died of Scarlet Fever on 18th December. The whole family were ill, as recorded
between correspondence between Capt. R H Roberts, the overlooker at Sunderland superintending the building of the "County of Merioneth" William was shown not to attend his office from mid December to end of January 1880. This appears to be an unlucky house, it is no more, demolished to allow the building of the
1880 saw the move from offices at 25 Water Street to 30 Brunswick Street.
1881 Shortly after the birth of a third son,George Henry, on 1st February, Catherine, his mother, died on 20th August. Probably as a result of the two deaths, William
then moved house the following year. 1882 He moved to live at 33 Merton Road, Bootle. He became Chairman of the Bootle Finance Committee as a local councillor.
1884 Saw him managing 17 vessels.
At some time after the founding of the University of Wales, Bangor, he became a founding member of the board of governors.
1885 He married Anne Hughes, sister to Eleanor who had married William (Klondike) Jones the builder, Monfa, Bootle and Llwydiarth Fawr,Llanerchymedd, on 28th July at St. John's Church, Chester.
1890 Offices moved from 30 Brunswick St. to 14 Water St.
1891 William's new wife produced a daughter on 8th February, Ethel Kenrick.
1892. 19th December. He was appointed as Justice of the Peace for Bootle by the Duchy of Lancaster. His address at this time was Homeleigh, 33 Merton Rd., Bootle.
1892 He was Mayor of Bootle, invited by 17 Aldermen on 3rd November 1892 and followed for the next year with an unanimous vote from the other Aldermen for his continuance as Mayor.
1896 He commissioned the building the last af the big sailing ships of 1762 tons named the "Annie Thomas". The ship was lost in 1899. He also had previously had the "Principality" built. This was the fastest ship of the day,including the "Cutty Sark" (arguably)
1896 4th December, he received nomination from the Lord President of the Council for High Sheriff of Anglesey, for the ensuing year.
1897 He became High Sheriff of Anglesey, the Warrant signed 26th February 1897. Tregarnedd was his address. His grand daughter has it that he would have very muched liked to move to live at Tregarnedd, but Annie would have none of it. It was at about this time that William Thomas purchased the Garreglwyd Estate in Holyhead, where he had the Queen Anne house demolished and a new one built.
1899 Mayor of Bootle again. 40 ships under his control at this time.
1901 Census at 33 Merton Road, Bootle cum Linacre, aged 63, with wife Annie, 42, son George H, 20, a shipowner's clerk, daughter Ethel K, 10. Two servants, Ann Cuffin, 30, housemaid and Annie Power, 26, cook.
1902 He moved to live at Park Mount, Sefton Park.
1904 Laid the foundation stone of Bethel Hen, Llanrhuddlad, on 9th December.
William Thomas's genius was in the manner of his business acumen in that he never went into partnership with anyone. He ran an office with as many clerks as the current business required, and each vessel was a Limited Company. He was in effect a one man band. From the onset of his career he always managed to have his ships at the right place at the right time and employed Ship's Masters of the highest calibre. He was generally held in awe by the whole of the Liverpool shipping fraternity for his management and control. He was a personal friend of Lloyd George, who stayed with him at Aigburth when he was in Liverpool. He worked closely with John Davies of Bron Afon, 89 Cressington Park, Garston, whose daughters married William's brothers.
1915 William Thomas died after a short illness at 5 Aigburth Drive, Sefton Park, Liverpool on the 8th March. He was buried at Bethel Hen, Llanrhuddlad, Anglesey. His will, probated on the 8th April 1915 had a Gross Value of £230,071/13/2d. Net value of Personal Estate £170,195/2/2d. There is a note on the will to the effect that the gross value was re-sworn at £230,436/9/2d.
The executors were his relict and children, excluding by a Codicil to his will dated 3rd April 1814, nine months before his death, his youngest son George Henry Thomas from being an Executor and Trustee of his Will.
1915 on Thursday the 11th March, a short funeral service was conducted at home, 5 Aigburth Drive, and his body left Lime Street station at 8.05 am for Anglesey. After arriving at Valley, a funeral procession was made through Llanfachraeth and Llanfaethlu , arriving at Bethel Hen Chapel, where the internment service was conducted by Rev R R Hughes, assisted by Rev J Williams, Brynsiencyn, Rev Howell Harris Hughes, Liverpool. The chief mourners were Miss Ethel Thomas (daughter); Mr R J Thomas (son), and Mrs Thomas; Mr W M Thomas (son), and Mrs Thomas; Mr George H Thomas (son), and Mrs Thomas;Mr Robert Thomas (brother); Miss Minnie Thomas (niece); Mr O W Owen (son-in-law); Messrs Cecil and Leonard Thomas (grandsons); Messrs R A Thomas, W Thomas, Alfred Thomas and Jep Thomas (nephews), Messrs Richard Jones and Evan Griffiths (brother-in laws); Mrs Birtles and Mrs Parry (sisters); Mrs Williams (sister-in-law); Mr Birtles;Mrs Edward Jones(Holyhead)(niece), Mr Jones; the Misses Annie and Maggie Parry (nieces); Mr R S Farrel(London);Mr W O Hughes,Maine Supt; Alderman W Jones,Bootle;Mr L Wynne Evans,Chester;Dr OF Evans,Owen Kenrick Jones.
The route from Valley to Llanrhuddlad was lined with people and without exception the windows of all the houses were covered. Mr Williams, the veterinary surgeon was heard to say, "We will not see the like of this man again".