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National Library of Wales
Owen, J., Bishop, papers

Reference code(s): GB 0210 JOHNOW

Held at: National Library of Wales

Title: Bishop John Owen Papers

Short Title: Owen, J., Bishop, papers

Creation date(s): 1872-1958

Level of description: Fonds

Extent: 0.515 cubic metres (18 boxes)

Name of creator(s): Bishop John Owen (1854-1926)


Administrative/Biographical history: John Owen (1854-1926) was born at Llanengan, Caernarfonshire, on 24 August 1854, and received his early education at Botwnnog Grammar School. He graduated in mathematics at Jesus College, Oxford, in 1876 and then taught for three years at Appleby Grammar School. In 1879 he returned to Wales on his appointment as Welsh professor and lecturer in classics at St Davids College, Lampeter. Also in 1879 he was ordained deacon by Bishop Basil Jones and received priest's orders in 1880. In 1885 he succeeded A. G. Edwards as warden of Llandovery College and in 1889 was appointed Dean of St Asaph. Owen was appointed Principal at Lampeter in 1892 and Bishop of St Davids in 1897. He remained in this position until his death at London on 4 November 1926. John Owen was a Welshman through and through, and was deeply interested in the Welsh educational system and its development. One of his last acts was to chair the departmental committee whose proceedings led to the publication in 1927 of the famous report Welsh in Education and Life. He also had close links with the National Eisteddfod and the Welsh Council of the League of Nations Union. He and his wife Amelia had four sons and six daughters. He was buried at Abergwili, and there is an effigy of him at St Davids Cathedral.


Scope and content/abstract: The collection comprises: John Owen's diaries, 1889-1926, notebooks containing press cuttings, accounts, extracts from the Bible and historical notes, and an address book (box 1); the memoirs of John Owen entitled 'College Friends', letters, 1872-1894, including many letters concerning the tithe rent charge, papers on the 1889 Welsh Intermediate Education Bill (box 2); a catalogue of the books in the library of Bishop John Owen, 1908, speeches, draft speeches and sermons, letters and papers relating to the disestablishment and disendowment of the church in Wales, papers concerning educational matters, 1891-1895 (box 3); letters, 1893-1897, many on religious matters, including issues of church reform, some of family interest, some congratulating John Owen as Bishop of St Davids in 1897 (box 4); an incomplete manuscript, the final printers' copy and the typescript text of 'The Early Life of Bishop Owen' (box 5); letters, 1898-1905, some relating to sermons and prayers following the death of Gladstone, the 1902 Education Bill, church defence, the fire at the Bishop's Palace at Abergwili in 1903, the new Bishop of Llandaff in 1905, and matters of diocesan interest, and there are also papers, 1904-1905, concerning education, Lloyd George and the Western Mail (box 6); letters, 1897-1914, some relating to the proceedings of the Welsh Church Commission, diocesan matters, church defence etc. (box 7); correspondence and papers, 1914-1917, many relating to the disestablishment and disendowment of the Church in Wales, the Welsh Church Act, 1914, and related matters (box 8); letters, 1906-1915, some relating to the role of the church in politics, education, church defence, the Welsh Church Bill etc. (box 9); correspondence and printed material, 1914-1919, concerning disestablishment, the Welsh Church Act, the Postponement Bill and the war, the tithe and disendowment (box 10); letters and papers, 1910-1926, concerning the tithe and the Welsh Church Bill, the Welsh Church Act, the Church Commissioners, matters relating to the diocese of St Davids (box 11); bundles of letters, 1922-1926, relating to church and diocesan matters, disestablishment and finance (box 12); correspondence and papers, 1914-1926, relating to disendowment, the government of the Church in Wales, the constitutions of the Governing Body and the Representative Body of the Church in Wales, drafts, notes and correspondence concerning 'The Later Life of Bishop Owen' (box 13); papers, 1907-1918, concerning Bishop Owen's life and work, including the typescript draft of 'The Early Life of Bishop Owen' (box 14); typescript drafts of 'The early Life of Bishop Owen' (box 15); manuscript texts of 'The Later Life of Bishop Owen', and miscellaneous source materials relating to Bishop Owen's life and work (box 16); papers concerning church matters, 1889-1925, including material relating to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, the Representative Body of the Church in Wales, the 'Diocesan Board of Finance', the 'Million Pound Fund' appeal, commutation capital, the St Davids Board of Finance etc., together with the correspondence of Miss Eluned Owen, 1954-1965 (box 17); papers relating to voluntary and parochial contributions, 1905-1908, together with an extensive collection of press cuttings (box 18).


Language/scripts of material: Welsh, English

System of arrangement: Arranged into eighteen boxes as indicated in the 'Scope and contents' list.

Conditions governing access: Readers consulting modern papers in the National Library of Wales are required to sign the 'Modern papers - data protection' form.

Conditions governing reproduction: Usual copyright regulations apply.

Finding aids: A hard copy of the preliminary box-list is available at the National Library of Wales. The catalogue can also be accessed online.

Detailed catalogue


Appraisal, destruction and scheduling information: All records have been retained

Accruals: Accruals are not expected

Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition: Deposited by Miss A. A. M. Owen, St Davids, in 1972.



Note: Title supplied from contents of fonds.

Archivist's note: Compiled by J. Graham Jones for the ANW project. The following sources were used in the compilation of this description: NLW, temporary box-list of the Bishop John Owen Papers; Dictionary of Welsh Biography down to 1940 (London, 1959).

Rules or conventions: This description follows ANW guidelines based on ISAD(G) second edition, AACR2 and LCSH

Date(s) of descriptions: September 2006

Church management | Wales | St Davids
Church renewal | Wales
Education | Wales
Education, Higher | Wales
Endowments | Wales
Owen, John, | 1854-1926 | Archives
Owen, John, | 1854-1926 | Diaries
Welsh Church Commission | Archives

Personal names
Owen , John , 1854-1926

Corporate names
Church in Wales | Diocese of St. Davids
Ecclesiastical Commissioners for England
Llandovery College
St. David's College (Lampeter, Wales)
University of Wales
Welsh Church Commission


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