Dictionary of Welsh Biography


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OWEN , WILLIAM ( 1785 - 1864 ), antiquary ;

b. 1785 at Beaumaris , where he was a pupil at the grammar school. During the Napoleonic wars he served as a marine . From 1824 on, his name is connected with Caernarvon where he was known as ‘ Y Pab ’ ( the Pope ). On his own evidence, he acquired this nick-name in consequence of a pamphlet he published in 1829 defending the stand made by the marquis of Anglesey in the House of Lords on behalf of Catholic emancipation. For the same reason, he says, he was so loathed by his fellow-countrymen that no one would give him employment. It appears that for a substantial portion of his life he was engaged as a sawyer in a saw-pit . He was extremely interested in antiquities ; he is heard of from time to time searching old registers in London or deciphering old manuscripts here and there in Wales . But, as a historian , he was nordinately credulous, a fact borne out by his surviving works: Drych Crefyddol yn dangos Dechreuad y Grefydd Brotestanaidd, etc. , 1824 ; Hanes Cyflafan neu Ddinystr y Beirdd Cymreig, etc. (prize-winning essay at the Cymreigyddion eisteddfod held at Caernarvon , 1824 ); Y Drych Bradwriaethol, sef Hanes Brad y Cyllyll Hirion , 1825 ; Hanes Dechreuad Cenedl y Cymry , 1826 ; Hanes Owain Glandwr [ sic ], 1833 ; and History of Dolbadarn Castle, Llanberis (undated). His life was spent in dire poverty, and he d. 15 Feb. 1864 .

Sources:

  • J. E. Lloyd , Owen Glendower / Owen Glyn Dwr , 1931 , 157-8, and in Transactions of the Anglesey Antiquarian Society and Field Club , 1921 , 43-4;
  • Cyfaill yr aelwyd cylchgrawn misol at wasanaeth oriau hamddenol y Cymry, yn cynnwys chwedleuaeth, cerddoriaeth, barddoniaeth, gwyddoniaeth, a llenyddiaeth bur, adeiladol, a dyddanus , 1892 , 93-5;
  • Gwaith y Parch. Walter Davies (Gwallter Mechain) , 3 volumes, Carmarthen, 1866-1868 , ii, 512-41;
  • U.C.N.W. Plas Newydd correspondence;
  • Carnarvon and Denbigh Herald , 1832 ff , 20 Feb. 1864 .

Author:

Emyr Gwynne Jones, M.A., (1911-72), Bangor

Published date: 1959