Statue of Thomas Edward Ellis MP, Bala

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This statue is the work of renowned Welsh sculptor William Goscombe John (see below). It portrays Thomas Edward Ellis (1859-99), who was elected as Liberal MP for Merioneth in 1886. The photo, courtesy of the National Library of Wales, shows the new statue c.1904.

Thomas was born at Cynlas in Cefnddwysarn, near Bala, and educated at the town’s grammar school. He went to university in Aberystwyth and Oxford. As an MP he was an early proponent of a Welsh assembly, over a century before the current Senedd was established in 1999.

Thomas also argued that the Anglican church in Wales should be disestablished (separated from the Church of England), as happened in 1920. He was also among the first to campaign for a National Library of Wales, another institution that came into being (in 1907) after his death.

Photo of Thomas Edward Ellis statue c.1904He made a name for himself throughout Wales and beyond as a defender of ordinary people and a fierce critic of the power exercised by the estate owners of Wales. He became the government’s Chief Whip in 1894, a remarkable promotion for the son of a tenant farmer.

He was just 40 years old when he died in Cannes, France. His body was returned to Cefnddwysarn for burial. The loss was deeply felt in Wales, and the statue to his memory was unveiled on 10 October 1903 in a ceremony led by dignitaries including David Lloyd George, who would later be Prime Minister.

The statue’s four-sided plinth shows key places in his life: Cynlas, Aberystwyth College, Oxford University and Westminster. The inscription “Amser dyn yw ei gynhysgaeth” may be translated as “A man’s time is his legacy”.

As a young artist, Cardiff-born William Goscombe John helped to make the Animal Wall outside Cardiff Castle. His studies included a period in Auguste Rodin’s Paris studio. His first major public work, the King’s Regiment memorial in Liverpool, foreshadowed his sculpting of many war memorials after the First World War. He also designed objects for the 1911 investiture of the Prince of Wales, and was a founder of Museum Wales.

Postcode: LL23 7AG    View Location Map

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