Rhoscolyn has a fascinating history, with its patron saint, Gwenfaen, first making her home and church here in 630 AD. Some say that the druids’ last stand against the Romans, who invaded Mona (Anglesey) in 60 or 61 AD, was at Cymyran, the inland sea between Mona and Holy Island and the open sea, south of Four Mile Bridge.  Anglesey itself also has a very interesting history.

A gunner with the East India Co, Richard Owen of Rhoscolyn

In earlier times many boys from North Wales would have left home at a young age to go to sea. One of these was Richard Owen (1753-1814), married to Elizabeth with siblings William, Ellen and Jane. The family home was Ty Wridin (there are various spellings for this property) and Richard is buried in St Gwenfaen’s graveyard.

Richard Owen’s gravestone which lies adjacent to the entrance porch to St Gwenfaen’s church

The inscription relates that Richard went to sea at the age of 13, made numerous voyages over 40 years, for much of this time as a Gunner with the East India Company (EIC). He completed his final voyage with the EIC to China at the end of 1800 on the Earl of Abergavenny , one of the largest ships in the company’s fleet having joined the ship at Northfleet on the River Thames in May 1799. He was the Gunner with the status and privileges of a Senior Petty Officer, the same as the Boatswain and Carpenter. As the Gunner he would have been responsible for maintaining and training the crews of the “great guns” and storage and safe handling of the stocks of gunpowder, shot and small arms. The Abergavenny carried 32 guns in total on the upper and lower decks, so that some of the gun ports shown in the picture below were dummies to give the impression that she was more heavily armed in order to deter enemy ships and pirates.

The Earl of Abergavenny

Not much is known about Richard outside his sea life. He bequeathed Ty Wridin and his savings to his widow and thence to his siblings and their children. His gravestone records that “He so well discharged the several duties of life that if Divine Providence had prolonged it, many would have benefited from his services.” and it ends “An honest man in the noblest work of God”. And you can’t get much better than that!

I have Susan Hanbury to thank for bringing Richard Owen to my attention and forwarding to me an article about him by J Roger Owen. This is only a very small section of what is covered and if you are interested in learning more, let me know. And especially, please let me know if you have any more information about Richard Owen and his family and life in Rhoscolyn.