John Owen is remembered as an unremitting foe of Methodism . There is an angry letter by him in the Account of the Welch Charity Schools by John Evans of Eglwys Cymyn ( 1702 - 1782 ) (q.v.) , which refers to a letter sent by Owen to Griffith Jones of Llanddowror himself, complaining bitterly of the ‘Methodism’ of the circulating schools. In 1741 he curtly refused Howel Harris 's request for a circulating school at Llannor , and when William Prichard (q.v.) gave the school house-room, Owen seized upon some derogatory remarks made by Prichard in the churchyard to hale him before the ecclesiastical courts at Bangor . Prichard was there defended by the prominent lawyer John Williams of Tŷ-fry ( Anglesey ); the case went up to the Great Sessions , and after three years Prichard was acquitted; but he had to quit his farm. John Owen gave Methodists no respite; we know of more than one instance of his delating them to the church courts, and Gwyneddon MS. 17b in U.C.N.W. library contains copies of his charges against them, and of the verdicts of excommunication which ensued. It is clear, too, that in this matter he kept a sharp eye upon his native countryside around Llanidloes , encouraging the local clerics to delate Methodists — see Bennett , Meth. Trefaldwyn Uchaf , 41-2 and 64-5. Not unnaturally, Robert Jones of Rhos-lan , in his Drych yr Amseroedd , while recognizing Owen 's ability and his eloquent preaching, has much to say against him — not that we need swallow all the old chronicler 's stories of the divine punishments which fell upon the chancellor . Yet, on the other hand, we cannot ignore the judgement pronounced upon him by a fellow- cleric , John Lewis of Plas Llanfihangel (Tre'r Beirdd) ; when he heard of John Owen 's appointment as chancellor , Lewis wrote that he was ‘ famous for a troublesome litigious temper, and of an obscure mean family; … strange that the bishop was so imposed upon in appointing him ’ ( Henllys MS. 630 at U.C.N.W. ).
Emeritus Professor Robert Thomas Jenkins, C.B.E., D.Litt., Ll.D., F.S.A., (1881-1969), Bangor
Published date: 1959