Fonds GB 0210 JOHNOW - Bishop John Owen Papers,

Identity area

Reference code



Bishop John Owen Papers,


  • 1872-1958 / (Creation)

Level of description


Extent and medium

0.601 cubic metres (21 boxes)

Context area

Name of creator

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.

Archival history

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

A. A. M. Owen; St Davids; Deposit; 1972
Mrs Joscelyn Davies and Mr Denys M. O. Davies; Llanfairfechan; Donation; August 2017; 99306559902419.

Content and structure area

Scope and content

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).
Additional papers (boxes 19-21) comprising the letters of Bishop John Owen, his wife Amelia Owen and their family, together with the recollections of their daughter, Gwenonwy Davies, and of her husband the Very Reverend J. T. Davies, Dean of Bangor, were received in August 2017.

Appraisal, destruction and scheduling

Action: All records have been retained.


Accruals are not expected.

System of arrangement

Arranged into twenty one files.

Conditions of access and use area

Conditions governing access

Readers consulting modern papers in the National Library of Wales are required to abide by the conditions set out in information provided when applying for their Readers' Tickets, whereby the reader shall become responsible for compliance with the Data Protection Act 2018 and the General Data Protection Regulation 2018 in relation to any processing by them of personal data obtained from modern records held at the Library.

Conditions governing reproduction

Usual copyright regulations apply.

Language of material

Script of material

Language and script notes

Welsh, English.

Physical characteristics and technical requirements

Finding aids

A hard copy of the preliminary box-list is available at the National Library of Wales.

Allied materials area

Existence and location of originals

Existence and location of copies

Related units of description

See also papers relating to Bishop John Owen, Bishop of St Davids, 1897-1926, including the order of service for his funeral, newspaper cuttings and a mini-biography by the donor Denys O. M. Davies, grandson of the Bishop, 2002 (NLW ex 2854); manuscript and printed tracts by Eluned Elizabeth Owen (1893-1968), daughter of Bishop John Owen, and his biographer: The early life of Bishop Owen - a son of Lleyn (1958), and The later life of Bishop Owen - a son of Wales (1961) (NLW ex 2833); and the correspondence of the six daughters of Bishop John Owen (NLW ex 2893, i-iv).

Related descriptions

Notes area


Title supplied from contents of fonds.

Alternative identifier(s)

Virtua system control number


Access points

Place access points

Genre access points

Description control area

Description identifier

Institution identifier

Llyfrgell Genedlaethol Cymru = The National Library of Wales

Rules and/or conventions used

Description follows NLW guidelines based on ISAD(G) 2nd ed.; AACR2; and LCSH


Level of detail

Dates of creation revision deletion

September 2006 and September 2019.


  • English



Archivist's note

Compiled by J. Graham Jones for the ANW project and Ann Francis Evans (August 2017 Donation). 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).

Accession area