James Owen of Penrhos

and his descendants

Non-Conformism & lost records

James Owen's parents may well have been Non-conformists since, for a while at least, James was a member of the Independent Church, later known as the Congregational Church.

By the late 18th century Welsh-speaking, travelling preachers were persuading many of the people of Wales to accept Methodist ideals. So effective was their oratory that by 1851 there were almost two and a half times as many dissenting chapels in Wales as there were Anglican churches. Members of their congregations often had a strong social conscience and were involved in movements for social reform. Nonconformity came to dominate political life with the chapels electioneering vigorously for the Liberal Party, which came to be known as the ‘Chapel Party’. The authorities were concerned about the reliable recording and retention of records of births, marriages and burials in Nonconformist churches so legislation was passed to ensure that all marriages would take place in parish churches but baptisms and burials continued to be permitted in Nonconformist chapels and many such records were lost.

This might explain why there appears to be no record of James’s christening. Civil registration of births, deaths and marriages in England and Wales did not begin until 1837 so we have to look to other sources for information.