Posted on 5 August 2011
Thomas Charles Edwards (1837-1900)
Looking out across Aberystwyth’s seafront with his hands aloft and motionless - as if delivering an eternal sermon - a stone statue stands, erected in memory of Thomas Charles Edwards. Many alive today may not remember this man. His life and legacy have remained largely unappraised in contemporary studies. The University of Wales annual lecture, delivered this year (5 August) by Professor D. Densil Morgan at the National Eisteddfod, will set about to explore the life of this man who left an indelible mark on religion and learning in Wales.
Thomas Edwards, who Professor Morgan calls “The Prince”, was a Methodist minister who made an outstanding contribution to religion and learning in Wales at a critical period in the country's history.
Born in 1837, Thomas Edwards was educated at Bala College and Oxford. After being ordained in 1864, he became a minister in Liverpool, preaching regularly throughout Wales in preaching festivals and Associations. He was a popular and powerful preacher combining the fiery zeal of the evangelist with the highest culture of the scholar.
In 1872 he was appointed first Principal of the University College of Wales (now Aberystwyth University), and helped to bring the college through the trials of its formative years. Resigning in 1891, he succeeded his father as principal of Bala College, turning it into a purely theological college, and remained there until his death in 1900.
Professor Morgan, a renowned and published academic on Theology and Religion in Wales, is Head of the School of Theology, Religious Studies and Islamic Studies at the University of Wales, Trinity St David. His lecture will cap off a weeklong series of literary conversations, hosted by Catrin Beard in the Eisteddfod’s University of Wales sponsored literary pavilion.