James Owen of Penrhos

and his descendants
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Oswald Williams Owen (1870-1939)

Oswald Williams Owen At this point we return to the children of Elijah and Elizabeth Owen. Their fourth child, Oswald Williams Owen (known as 'Os'), was born in Glanogwen in 1870. I was told that he was a vicar in Newcastle and may have played hockey for England: he had three daughter, one who was lame but went on to run a dancing school that provided dancers for West End productions and twins: he visited his eldest sister Mary and younger brother Reginald in the south at least once a year and Mary’s chauffeur referred to him as ‘The Bishop’: none of his daughters married. Whether the hockey and dance school were that successful is, as yet, unknown.

Os attended Hatfield Hall College, Durham, and graduated B.A. 1891, L. Th. 1892 and M.A. 1903. Aspects of his life as a student are decribed here. On 9 June 1896, at Chester Cathedral, he was ordained a priest. From 1895 to 1897 he was curate of St John the Divine, Baguley, near Sale in Cheshire, where his vicar was Anglesey born Hugh Bethell Jones. He then spent 11 years as a curate at Berwick- on-Tweed, Northumberland.

Os arrived in Berwick in October 1897 to be greeted at the station by Henry Bernard Hodgson, the incumbent at Berwick Holy Trinity Parish Church from 1897 to 1914. Berwick is just 4km south of the Scottish border and the town and the parish church are the most northerly in England. The church was built under special licence from Oliver Cromwell during the Commonwealth period in the middle of the 17th century. Henry’s son, (William) Noel Hodgson (1893-1916), was a talented poet who was killed in the Battle of the Somme. One of his best known poems was “Before Action”, which is the name Charlotte Zeepvat chose for his biography, “Before Action - William Noel Hodgson and the 9th Devons, a Story of the Great War”.

That excellent biography reveals something of Os’s life in Berwick. It mentions some special occasions in which Os was involved, such as the return from the Boer War of some of the Berwick-upon-Tweed Volunteer Rifles in the spring of 1901. They paraded from the station to the church, past cheering crowds and shops that had been closed in their honour, to the church where they were greeted by Henry and Os for a service of thanksgiving. All then processed to the Town Hall for further ceremonies and a civic dinner. It describes the annual New Year for about 150 of the local aged poor; Henry, his curates (the extent of the church’s daily work was demonstrated by the appointment of two curates and Os became senior curate) and other seniors of the church carved the roast beef, the ladies hosted the tables, soldiers from the garrison acted as waiters and a concert ensued.    >>>>>