John Thomas

1751-1810. He was born on 26 October 1751, the third of five sons of the Rev. John Thomas, vicar of Llandyssul, Cardiganshire, and of his wife, Sage Thomas.

Thomas joined the navy in May 1771 aboard the Hero 74, Captain Nicholas Vincent, although that vessel was paid off in the same month.

On 10 September 1777 he was commissioned lieutenant of the Burford 70, Captain George Bowyer, and he saw further service with that officer aboard the Albion 74 from May 1778, going out to North America in June with Vice-Admiral Hon. John Byron’s reinforcements before sailing south to the Leeward Islands at the end of the year.

Thomas was promoted commander on 9 April 1779, and after commanding the sloop Barbadoes was posted captain in the Leeward Islands on 11 December 1779, whereupon he commissioned a French prize as the Albemarle 28, transferring the officers and men of the Barbadoes into her. In July 1780 he removed to the Trident 64 in Admiral Sir George Rodney’s Leeward Islands fleet, sailing for Jamaica with Rear-Admiral Joshua Rowley’s reinforcements that month.

In 1781 Captain Thomas fought an action with the French frigate Surveillante – seen here in her defeat of HMS Quebec two years earlier.

In September he was ordered to exchange with Captain Thomas Dumaresq into the Ulysses 44, but before the transfer could take place this vessel was dismasted in the Great Hurricanes that swept through the Caribbean in October. After assuming command of the Ulysses Thomas fought the French frigate Surveillante 40, Captain de Villeneuve Cillart, in the West Indies on 5 June 1781 but was carried below wounded in the early stages of the action, as were a lieutenant and the sailing master. Both sides suffered a great deal of damage in a four-hour engagement fought at point blank range before the Frenchman took off. Thomas was later awarded a pension in respect of his wounds.

He thereafter commanded the Pallas 36 at Jamaica from March until July 1782 where he exchanged with Captain Christopher Parker into the Diamond 32, a frigate he retained until October. He then exchanged with Captain Bartholomew Rowley into the Resource 28, with which vessel returned home to be paid off in January 1783.

Thomas remained unemployed for the years of the peace and the initial stages of the French Revolutionary War until he joined the Impregnable 98 in July 1795. He commanded her in Rear-Admiral Hugh Cloberry Christian’s squadron that departed Plymouth for the Leeward Islands on both 16 November and 9 December but had to put back after encountering freak weather on both occasions. The Impregnable thereafter remained in home waters and was eventually paid off in August 1796.

Thomas was promoted rear-admiral on 14 February 1799, vice-admiral on 29 April 1804, and admiral on 25 October 1809. He died on 26 September 1810, being buried in Llanllwni Church, Carmarthenshire.

He married Letitia Maria Lloyd in 1788, but does not appear to have had any issue.

Thomas had been renowned for being a lively, spirited youth. During his career he made a great deal of prize money which allowed him to buy Llanfechan Mansion in Carmarthenshire. He became deputy-lieutenant and a justice of the peace for the counties of Cardigan and Carmarthen.