James Owen went to Queen Elizabeth's School at Carmarthen . The D.N.B. can hardly be right in saying that he was also under the tuition of the Quaker James Picton , for Picton left Tenby when James was only four, and spent the subsequent years mostly in prison. James Owen himself told Calamy that he was under the tuition of Samuel Jones ( 1628 - 1697 ) (q.v.) at Brynllywarch in 1672-3 ; he came afterwards under Stephen Hughes (q.v.) at Swansea . Henry Maurice ( 1634 - 1682 ) (q.v.) induced him to preach in North Wales ; he stayed awhile at Bodvel and on 23 April 1676 was accused of conventicle-holding at Llangybi in Eifionydd . He escaped from Llŷn to the house of Hugh Owen ( 1639 - 1700 ) (q.v.) , Bronclydwr, Mer. , and became Owen 's assistant — he preached Hugh Owen 's funeral sermon in 1700 . But in Nov. 1676 he became chaplain to a Mrs. Baker , of Swinney , near Oswestry , at the same time taking charge of the Dissenting congregation in that town — there, on 27 June 1681 , he and Philip Henry (q.v.) held debate with bishop William Lloyd of S. Asaph (q.v.) . In 1690 , he opened an academy which was in high repute; none the less, he itinerated, for we find him preaching monthly at Ruthin , and afterwards at Denbigh , Wrexham , and Llanfyllin . But in 1700 he became co-pastor with Francis Tallents at Shrewsbury , removing his academy thither — for accounts of the Academy, see his biography and McLachlan , English Education under the Test Acts , 81-2. He d. 8 April 1706 ; he m. three times.
Although James Owen ranked as an Independent , he had leanings towards Presbyterianism , and he agreed with Richard Baxter in his low-Calvinist theology and in his moderation. His career is that of a definite Dissenter , but here again he showed willingness to compromise where principle was not sacrificed — two of his best-known works are Moderation a Virtue , 1703 , and Moderation still a Virtue , 1704 , in defence of ‘occasional conformity.’ There is a list of his works in the D.N.B. He did not lose contact with Wales . It was he who furnished Edmund Calamy with particulars of the Welsh ‘ ejected ministers .’ And he published several books in Welsh : Trugaredd a Barn , 1687 ; Bedydd Plant o'r Nefoedd (a reply to the Baptist Benjamin Keach ), 1693 ; a translation of the Shorter Westminster Catechism , 1701 ; and a hymnary, Hymnau Scrythurol , 1705 — some of the hymns were included by Griffith Jones (of Llanddowror ) and Daniel Rowland in their collections.
Emeritus Professor Robert Thomas Jenkins, C.B.E., D.Litt., Ll.D., F.S.A., (1881-1969), Bangor
Published date: 1959