Dictionary of Welsh Biography

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DAVIES , OWEN ( 1752 - 1830 ), Wesleyan Methodist minister ;

b. at Wrexham , a twin son of Owen Davies , tailor . In his youth, he went to London and thence to Brentford , where he became a Wesleyan Methodist and m. a Mrs. Hemans , a widow whose son Thomas entered the Methodist ministry. In due course, he returned to London and began to visit the workhouses of the city and to preach . At the request of John Wesley , conveyed to him by Thomas Olivers (q.v.) , he entered the ministry himself, probably in 1788 , and ‘travelled’ on several English circuits before becoming superintendent of the Redruth circuit in 1798 and chairman of the Redruth district . In Aug. 1800 , after some hesitation, he accepted the invitation of the Wesleyan Methodist conference to superintend the Welsh Mission , and he and John Hughes ( 1776 - 1843 ) (q.v.) made Ruthin their headquarters. After superintending the mission for sixteen years, and as a result of the financial and administrative changes made by the conference, he left Wales to become superintendent of the Liverpool circuit . Within a year, however, failing health compelled him to become a supernumerary, and after a short illness he d., 12 Jan. 1830 . He was buried near the entrance to Brunswick Methodist chapel , Liverpool .

Davies was never able either to write or preach in Welsh ; he was somewhat loth to surrender some of his wide authority to his colleagues ‘travelling’ in South Wales ; and his policy of encouraging the building of numerous chapels in the early years of the mission was possibly a little too adventurous. But he had tact, charm of personality, and considerable administrative ability; he took a leading part in defending Arminianism against the attacks levelled against it by the Calvinists ; and he probably did more than any other person to lay securely the foundations of the Welsh Wesleyan Methodist Church .


  • Wesleyan Methodist Magazine (1822–1913) , 1832 , 389 et seq. ;
  • Owen Thomas , Cofiant y Parchedig John Jones, Talysarn (New York, 1868) , chap. xi;
  • A. H. Williams , Welsh Wesleyan Methodism, 1800-1858 its origins, growth and secessions (1935) , 1800-58 , 85-7, 140-2 et passim .


Albert Hughes Williams, M.A., (1907-96), Cardiff

Published date: 1959