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THE ANCESTRY OF EDWARD THOMAS THE POET (1878-1917) EDWARD THOMAS was conscious of his ancestry; he wrote: the West calls, out of Wiltshire and out of Cornwall and Devon beyond, out of Monmouth and Glamorgan and Gower and Caermarthen, with a voice of dead Townsends, Eastaways, Thomases, Phillipses, Tre- harnes, Marendaz, sea men and mountain men.1 He knew a great deal about his forebears; he doubtless heard them talked about by his elders as every young Welshman does. And he was conscious of being 'mainly Welsh',2 although born, raised and educated in England. His visits to Wales, to stay with relatives in Newport, Swansea and Pontarddulais (one might almost add Swindon, for there, in and around his grandmother's house in Cambria Place, was a colony of Welsh-speaking ex-patriates3), to explore the country or to recover from bouts of depression, began in childhood and continued perhaps more frequent that is generally supposed down to 1914.4 His interest in and feeling for Wales ran deep: Day by day grows my passion for Wales. It is like a homesickness, but stronger than any homesickness I ever felt stronger than any passion. Wales indeed, is my soul's native land, if the soul can be said to have a patria or rather, a matria, a home with the warm sweetness of a mother's love, and with her influence, too.5 This was written in 1899 by the twenty-one-year-old undergraduate, but the emotion, perhaps tempered, and certainly better informed by deeper knowledge of the country and of himself, remained with him. Wales and Welsh people often figure in Thomas's books, essays and reviews, but not so frequently at least not overtly in his poetry. The assessment of the significance of his Welsh background to the prose writer and the poet must be left to the critics and biographers.6 Here we can merely attempt to recover the facts of his ancestry as they appear in the records. I The Thomas line can be traced back to one Philip Thomas, probably the son of another Philip Thomas, both of them living in the parish of Cadoxton-juxta- Neath, Glamorgan. Nothing is known about them apart from a bare outline of their lives pieced together from the parish register and even these details are uncertain since there were evidently several people of the same name living in that vast parish in the late eighteenth century. The elder Philip probably lived in Blaenhonddan hamlet; he married Margaret Jenkin at Cadoxton church in 1764, and the register records the baptisms of several of their children; Margaret was