James Owen of Penrhos

and his descendants


The Bishop of Bangor ordained Elias a deacon in 1871, and, being the first candidate at the ordination, he was titled gospeller. In 1871 Elias and his family were living at Rachub, Llanllechid. In 1872 he was ordained priest and from 1871 until 1875 was curate of the ancient church of St Gwynnog, Llanwnnog; Llanwnnog is about 10 miles northeast of Llanidloes. The church is in the community of Caersws and Elias’s membership of the Powisland Club reveals that he lived in Caersws, about a mile down the valley from Llanwnnog. [Interestingly, the poet John Ceiriog Hughes, one time stationmaster at Llanidloes became station-master at Caersws in 1871, responsible for overseeing the newly-opened railway line from Caersws to the lead mining settlement of Fan; he was buried in St Gwynnog graveyard in 1887.] In 1875 Elias took up the curacy of Holy Trinity Church, Oswestry, a position he relinquished the following year on being appointed Diocesan Inspector of Schools for St. Asaph. It appears he lived in Llanfwrog near Ruthin, Denbighshire, whilst he was an HMI.

At the start of my research, it was said that Elias and Margaret had twelve children, of whom eleven survived into adulthood, but they actually had fourteen, sadly losing their daughter, Charlotte Ann (aka Annie) Owen [b Newtown 1874, 3rd qy], aged 28 months, on 8 or 9 January 1877 (newspaper reports differ), at Castle Street, Ruthin [Ruthin 1877, 1st qt].

In 1878, in his role as HMI, Elias reported on the incredible educational changes within the diocese of St Asaph; in the period of the previous two decades, the population of the diocese had increased by only 12%, school buildings had increased by 24%, the number of pupils attending by 84% and the number of pupils examined by 94% [North Wales Chronicle, 10 Aug 1878].

The train incident

Also in 1878 one of Elias's daughters had an amazing escape from injury. She was travelling with her mother and siblings on a train from Rhyl; they may have been visiting the Morgan-Owens. Between Trefnant and Denbigh, when the train was travelling at full speed, the girl was leaning against the door of the carriage when it flew open, causing her to plummet from the train. Margaret could do nothing until the train reached Denbigh. An engine was dispatched immediately to find the little girl who was discovered not far from where the incident occurred; she was making her way to Denbigh on foot, crying but unhurt. The accident was reported in several newspapers, including the Cheshire Observer and The Wrexham Advertiser, etc. of 27 July 1878.