James Owen of Penrhos

and his descendants
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James Pritchard Shelby

The fourth child of Sarah and John, James Pritchard Shelby, was born on 16 March 1863 [Ruthin 1863 1st qt]. He was a scholar living with his family in Bersham in 1871 and in Pen Y Gelli (or Penygelli) in 1881. Like his brother Thomas and probably like others in the family, James attended Adwy Coedpoeth British School where he won prizes. Aged only fifteen, James became a pupil teacher (PT) there in May 1878. PTs were thrust into positions of authority very young so it is not surprising that the Master occasionally had to remind them to distance themselves from their pupils and to keep up with their studies. Theirs was a long day; just after James began his training the school log (Click here to see entries concerning James in this log) records, “Lessons are given to the teachers who prepare for the Scholarship from 6am to 8am and from 7pm to 9pm” and in between these sessions, the young PTs taught a full day. In January 1883 the log reports that James had qualified as a teacher. The Wrexham Advertiser and North Wales News, 25 Nov 1882 reported that James had passed his Scholarship Examination with a good 2nd Class and would begin studying at Bangor Training College in January. January arrived and the HMI's report on Penygelli Boys' School stated: "The pupil teacher Shelby did very good work". However, Bersham Village School (boys' department) had offered him the job of assistant teacher at a salary of ₤30 so he forewent college [Ibid. 6 Jan 1883] and two years later he was offered the post of assistant master at Stansty School, Wrexham, despite refusing to submit himself to a month's trial.

The Adwy School log shows that James was quite a talented stage performer on occasions - his last mention in the log (February 1888) is as a performer of a humorous song, “The girl in the pinafore dress”, in a school prize day entertainmenton - and this was to continue. For example, several reports in the Wrexham Advertiser & North Wales News in the early 1890s mention similar performances in concerts to raise funds for causes such as The Progress of Weslyan Methodism, a baptist chapel, local National Schools and Coedpoeth Church. He was clearly a talented singer and comic; he was singled out for praise as a "Lion comique" after performing a song and a comic song at a concert at the Caergwrle Public Hall [23 Feb 1891].

Clearly James was a devout Christian and in 1892 he was elected a lay representative to the Diocesan Conference at Bala later that year [Wrexham Advertiser & N Wales News, 30 Apr 1892].