James Owen of Penrhos

and his descendants


After he had qualified Elias’s one and only appointment in teaching was as headmaster of Llanllechid National School, near Bangor. He arrived in about 1854 and quickly had to teach himself to speak Welsh fluently, as this was largely a Welsh-speaking community. One of the innovations he introduced was an evening school for young men, particularly quarrymen, who had left school at an early age. Lectures were laid on in subjects that might interest them. An example was a talk on the "electric Telegraph", which was such a new concept that there was not a suitable Welsh vocabulary for some of the technology involved. This lecture was fully reported in the North Wales Chronicle of 24 Oct 1863 where it was pointed out that the numbers attending the evening school had increased, showing the appreciation that the quarrymen for this educational opportunity and their desire to improve ythemselves.

It was at Llanllechid that Elias exhibited an interest in antiquarian research, almost certainly encouraged through his friendship with the local vicar, John Evans, himself an enthusiastic antiquarian. (It was Rev. Evans who gave the above-mentioned talk on the "electric Telegraph".) Their traverses of the mountain in the parish prompted Elias to study and to map some Roman encampments there. Subsequently, the remains were found to be more scattered and he made a map of the whole parish, contributing his results to the North Wales Chronicle, and later in a more elaborate form to the Archaeologia Cambrensis under the title of 'Arvon Antiqua', (vol xii, 3rd series, 1866, p 215 & vol xiii, 3rd series, 1867, p 102 (with map) and 1872). Elias was an excellent communicator and many such articles about a diverse range of antiquarian subjects were to follow.

An 1870 report in the Journal of the Ethnological Society describes excavations in the Llanllechid area in 1868 in which Elias was involved: "I was shortly afterwards joined by Archdeacon Evans and Mr. Elias Owen. We soon cleared away with our hands the stones which lay piled up ..." (see transcription and search for 'Elias' to see references to him). In 2005/6 archaeological researchers from the Moelyci Environmental Centre near Llanllechid were using Elias’s 1866 map to help with their investigations into local hill-fort sites.