b. 3 November 1794, the son of David and Jane Thomas, Ty-llwyd farm, parish of Cadoxton-juxta-Neath, Glam. He attended schools at Allt-wen (Pontardawe) and Neath, worked on his father's farm for a while, and then (1812) started in the Neath Abbey Iron Works. In 1817 he was working in the Ynyscedwyn Anthracite Iron Works, where he was in charge of blast furnaces, etc. During his stay of about twenty-two years there he experimented with the use of anthracite coal as a smelting fuel; he has the honour of having made, at Ynyscedwyn, the first ‘anthracite’ iron ever cast in the world. This success caused him to be invited by the Lehigh Coal and Navigation Company, Pennsylvania, U.S.A. Emigrating to that continent in June 1839 he had, by next year, effected almost revolutionary changes in the iron industry. Thereafter his career was most successful and he became one of the great ironmasters of the world. In 1840 he organised the first Presbyterian church at Casanqua. He died 20 June 1882.
Published date: 1959
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