Dictionary of Welsh Biography

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OWEN , HENRY ( 1716 - 1795 ), cleric, physician, and scholar ;

b. in 1716 at Tan-y-gadair , Dolgelley , son of William Owen (d. 1767 ), a lawyer , and christened 29 Jan. at Dolgelley . According to Powys Fadog (vi, 463-72), he was of the family of baron Lewis Owen (d. 1555 ) (q.v.) . Henry was his father's second son; the eldest was Lewis Owen (d. 1757 ), whose son was Henry Owen ( 1750 - 1827 ), a Dolgelley physician who m. into the Quaker family of Lewis (and Owen ) of Tyddyn-y-garreg (qq.v.) and was himself a Quaker — it was he who, in 1786 , sold land to the Calvinistic Methodists of Dolgelley for the building of their first chapel there.

Henry Owen was educated at Ruthin school and Jesus College , Oxford ; he matriculated in April 1736 at 19, graduated in 1739 and again (in medicine) in 1746 , and took his M.D. in 1753 . He was ordained in 1746 , and was curate and physician in Gloucestershire for three years, after which he gave up his medical practice on account of ill-health. He became chaplain to a gentleman , who in 1752 , presented him to the rectory of Terling , Essex ; he was also curate at Stoke Newington . He was elected F.R.S. in 1753 . In 1760 he was appointed rector of S. Olave's , Hart Street , near the Tower (and therefore the Navy Office ); and in 1775 , while he was chaplain to bishop Barrington of Llandaff , the bishop gave him the additional living of Edmonton . He d. at Edmonton , 14 Oct. 1795 . For his children and descendants, see Powys Fadog , loc. cit.

There is no doubt at all of Owen 's scholarship — in mathematics, in classics, in Hebrew and Greek Biblical criticism . But he also interested himself in Welsh antiquities, and in the Welsh manuscripts belonging to William Jones ( 1675? - 1749 ) (q.v.) . True, Sir John Lloyd was convinced that the attribution to Owen of the 1775 History of Anglesea , including an essay on Owain Glyn Dŵr attributed to Thomas Ellis of Dolgelley (these attributions are made in Llyfryddiaeth y Cymry ), is erroneous — the History , says Sir John , was by John Thomas ( 1736 - 1769 ) (q.v.) of Beaumaris , and the essay was the work of Robert Vaughan (q.v.) of Hengwrt . Still, Owen certainly brought out the 2nd ed. of Mona Antiqua Restaurata , by Henry Rowlands ( 1655 - 1723 ) (q.v.) . He was a prominent Cymmrodor , and acted as reviser of the papers sent up to be read before the society . There is much talk of him in the Morris Letters . He was a neighbour and friend of Richard Morris 's — not that this prevented Richard from satirical references to his marriage to a woman very much younger than himself (and a bishop 's daughter), or from telling his brothers that Owen was ‘ a miserly devil, who changed his maidservants almost every week .’ All three brothers pestered Owen for advice in their frequent and varied illnesses. Owen himself was a sickly man — ' a thin man .’ Other friends of his were Silvanus Bevan (q.v.) and John Evans ( 1702 - 1782 ) (q.v.) .


  • Oxford Dictionary of National Biography ;
  • The Letters of Lewis, Richard, William, and John Morris, of Anglesey, (Morrisiaid Môn) 1728-1765 , 1907–9 (use indexes by Hugh Owen );
  • History of the Princes, the Lords Marcher, and the Ancient Nobility of Powys Fadog , loc. cit.


Emeritus Professor Robert Thomas Jenkins, C.B.E., D.Litt., Ll.D., F.S.A., (1881-1969), Bangor

Corrections and additions:

OWEN , HENRY ( 1716 - 1795 ; DWB , 704-5).

He was b. in Dyffrydan , about 3 miles from Dolgellau . His mother's name was Jonet(te) .


  • Dolgellau parish registers in N.L.W.


Dr Llewelyn Gwyn Chambers, Bangor

Published date: 1959