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Thomas Perrott of Llanybri (c1690-1733) Principal of Carmarthen Academy

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Thomas Perrott Biographical Notes:[1]

Llanybri Old Chapel in 1933 and as it is now
At the centre of Llanybri stood Morbrichurch, now Hen Gapel, whose battlemented tower was visible for miles around. The ruins of this medieval chapel of ease, which shaped Thomas' early life, still survive. It was converted by Stephen Hughes, ‘The Apostle of Carmarthenshire’ [2] and used as a Conventicle by dissenters in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries.


The Memorial Hall, Albert Square, Manchester.
Erected in 1862 to mark the Bicentennial of The Great Ejection.
The Act of Uniformity in 1662, together with the resulting Great Ejection of Dissenters, was described J.C.Ryle as an "injury to the cause of true religion in England which will probably never be repaired." It resulted in the formation of Dissenting Academies [3] but by the 19th century their original purpose to provide a higher education was superseded by the founding of new universities which were open to non-conformists, and by the reform of Oxford and Cambridge.

Thomas Perrot attended Abergavenny Academy [4] where he was the pupil of Roger Griffith,[5] who succeeded Samuel Jones of Brynllywarch, [6] himself an eminent casualty of The Great Ejection. When Griffiths conformed, [7] and resigned from Abergavenny in 1702, Perrot moved to Shrewsbury to study with James Owen,[8] a former assistant of Stephen Hughes who was tutored from c.1670 by Samuel Jones. He was ordained at Knutsford in Cheshire on 6 August 1706 and became schoolmaster at Newmarket in Flintshire (1706–14) from where he moved to Bromborough in anticipation of the Schism Act.

Following William Evans' death in 1719, Thomas[9] became minister of Heol Awst Presbyterian Church (Lammas St), [10] and Tutor of Carmarthen Academy [11] later the Presbyterian College, [12] teaching Classics, Greek, Hebrew, Metaphysics, Logic, Theology, Chronology and Natural Philosophy (Science).

Thomas inherited property from his father John who died in 1726 and he greatly benefited from his marriage with Eleanor Lloyd, [13] daughter of Henry and Martha Lloyd of Plas Llanstephan. When Thomas transferred some property to his brother-in-law in 1728, he was styled as 'gent'.

His will in 1734 names Eleanor as executrix and mentions brothers John and William and sisters Anne, Jennet and Elizabeth. It reveals Thomas as a well-to-do person with twelve rooms identified in his home. He owned a substantial library, worth £40, and a Celestial and Terrestrial Ball, valued at £3 10s. Thomas had a daughter Mary, his only surviving child in 1768. On his death in 1733, Jeremy Owen [14] praised his "excellent friend" as "free from bias, a man of impartiality and moderation." A late 18thcentury account of the dissenters’ academies described Perrot simply as "of great learning." [15]

Thomas had a daughter, Mary, described as his only surviving child in 1768 and as a 'spinster of Carmarthen' in the Lloyd Papers. (Mary Perrot daughter of Rev. Thomas Perrot deceased) See Thomas Perrot will 1734 + Carms Wills: Admons 2 August, Inventory 19 July 1726. His widow was alive in 1744, when the Carmarthen student, Thomas Morgan, bought six books from her. Thomas Perrot’s brother John was a Presbyterian minister in Wotton-under-Edge Gloucestershire from 1720 and died there in 1749. John's son, Samuel, attended Carmarthen Academy from 1753-57 and subsequently became a Unitarian minister in Ireland. In 1732 Thomas seems to have taught another nephew, also a Thomas who later ministered at Blakeney and Kingswood.

In 1732 Perrot delivered a glass vial to the Royal Society, "containing a partially formed chicken, whose belly seem’d to be the Egg cover’d with a soft skin". His paper on it was given by his friend, the celebrated scientist, dissenting tutor and Royal Society Fellow John Eames.


SOURCES & RESEARCH NOTES

References

  1. Thomas Perrot - N.Gibbard + History of Carms 1939 by T.Jenkins + Thomas Perrot Bio by M.Burden
  2. "Perhaps this is oldest non-conformist house of worship in Wales. This building was taken over around 1675 by Stephen Hughes ‘The Apostle of Carmarthenshire’ and used for independent worship until his death in 1688. It is a long, narrow building, on the exact form of the old churches, with a belfry at the gable end. Stephen Hughes was given a licence to preach in a dwelling house in the parish of Llanstephan in 1672, when Charles II announced freedom for the non-conformists, which was most certainly intended to favour the Catholics. It is almost certain that the Old Chapel was not in non-conformist possession at that time, unless Hughes named it as the place which obtained the licence. It is apparent that Stephen Hughes was the minister here from the beginning of the cause until the death of that good man in the year 1688."Hanes Eglwysi Annibynnol Cymru (1871) T. Rees & J. Thomas.

    An ecclesiastical survey in 1715 notes: "This is a Chapel belonging to Llan 'Stephan. The present Impropriator is Mr Champion of the Inner Temple, since the Civil Warre 40s a year was paid by the Impropriator as I am inform'd to a Minister for reading Prayers here, upon his withdrawing the Salary Prayers were neglect'd to be read here, & the Chapel was suffer'd to decay. After it was decay'd William Evans William Evans who has the Care of the Seminary of Dissenters at Carmarthen is said to have taken a Lease of the Chapel of the Impropriator at the rent of 10s a year or under,upon which by contribution from the Presbyterians it was repair'd by them for the space of about 10 years has been kept in repair & made use of for a Conventicle." Visitation of Carmarthen 1710

    "It was William Evans also, according to Tenison, who secured for Dissent the episcopal chapel at Llanybri, attached to the rectory of Llanstephan, one of the six Percy impropriations. It seems that the tenth Earl of Northumberland had alienated the profits of this living to one Henry Champion of the Inner Temple, who was brought up on the Percy estate at Petworth in Sussex, and was one of the Earl's most trusted agents ; upon the decay of the chapel and the discontinuance of the services there, Champion granted a lease of it to William Evans at a rent of 10s. a year (or under), who had it repaired, fitted up, and used as a meeting-house for the Nonconformists of the district. On what precise grounds this distant lawyer from the Inner Temple was persuaded to divert an episcopal chapel from Anglican use is not a little mysterious ; but the legal bonds were so soundly tightened up that neither Archdeacon Tenison, nor all the other powers of the Church, could unloosen them in the least. "We have no chapel in our parish, except that which is possessed by the Independent congregation," is the wailing cry of the churchwardens in 1790. Though the process entered into between Evans and Champion seems to savour somewhat of sharp practice, the upshot was a peculiarly fitting retribution to befall the shameless secularism associated with the Percy rectories. The Puritan powers had succeeded in diverting the revenues of five of these close corporations to the use of four Trier nominees and a Baptist lecturer, a revolutionary scheme that worked for a few years only ; it was left for William Evans and a Gallio-like impropriator to alienate the chapel at Llanybri, dedicated as it was to the Blessed Virgin Mary, from the Church in perpetuity. Thus William Evans stands before us as an active, resourceful, well-informed, eminently practical person, set free by the Toleration Act for the most varied and fruitful enterprises, whether reading with his group of students at the seminary, or preaching under a wide-spreading oak at Llanddarog, or making his way to Pencader with a bundle of his own translation of the Assembly's Catechism on his saddle. "God's gift to his people ... a public benefaction," are Jeremy Owen's words of him." 'A History of Carmarthenshire' Lloyd, Sir John E., (Ed.). 2 vols., Cardiff, London Carmarthenshire Society (1935, 1939). See also Transactions of the Honourable Society of Cymmrodorion Issue details 1928-1929, 1930
    Image:Llan-y-Bri Chapel.png
    Llan-y-Bri Chapel before fire
    Image:Llan-y-Bri Chapel.jpg
    and after
    Apostle of Carmarthenshire
  3. Dissenting Academies Online
  4. Abergavenny Academy
  5. Roger Griffith
  6. Samuel Jones
  7. Act of Conformity
  8. James Owen
  9. Thomas Perrot, Dictionary of Welsh Biography
  10. Lammas St + Capel Heol Awst largest chapel in Wales in 1826.
  11. Carmarthen Academy
  12. l Heol Awst /Presybyterian College
  13. Lloyd Papers: Llanstephan Mansion
  14. Jeremy Owen DNB
  15. Dr Williams Library, 24.59, fos. 91–2.




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