James Owen of Penrhos

and his descendants

Work in Llanyblodwel

While Elias was in Llanyblodwel he oversaw the addition of half an acre to the churchyard; the Earl of Bradford gave the land. He also enlarged the school at Porthywaen, converting the schoolmaster’s house into an extra classroom.

A wonderful booklet produced after a millennium exhibition in 2000 quotes extracts from the old log books of both Llanyblodwel and Porthywaen schools. These testify to the difficulties in maintaining reasonable standards of education in such rural communities at that time. Illnesses such as Scarlet Fever and Diptheria led to fatalities (an epidemic in 1892 took the life of a son of the school master) and sometimes closed the school. Truancy was rife, particularly when there were fairs, markets, a hunt or races in the area or if the harvest was late. Children often left to start work at a very early age, as young as nine; in this part of the world they often went into service or to work in the lime kilns. On June 21, 1897, "The Rev. Elias Owen came to school and distributed to the children the jubilee medals given by Lord Newport". On this occasion it was to celebrate 50 years of Queen Victoria’s reign but there is no doubt this would have been one of many visits Elias made to the schools.

Elias and his brother Timothy were both HMI’s and shared a lifelong interest in education; for seven years Elias was on the council of the University College of North Wales. As HMIs they are both mentioned in a booklet for the centenary celebration of Saint Matthews School, Buckley, Flintshire (1949).