A Glamorgan Family History
Rev. Roger Howell of Llangiwg, (circa 1690-1742):
Although the date of Rev. Roger Howell's death is fairly well documented, his stated date of birth here is a very rough approximation, based on the date of a possible marriage and the birth of his probable son, Howel Roger (see grandparents).
I have not yet been able to find any contemporary records of his early life. Much of the little that is known about him comes from chapel records and retrospective histories written about those chapels. One of the main sources is Dr. D. Elwyn Davies' "Capel Gellionnen 1692-1992", in which he describes Roger as a blacksmith, from Llangiwg, known for his love of reading and profound knowledge and memory of the Scriptures. He served as a Nonconformist minister in the chapels of Cwmllynfell and Gellionen during the period 1712-1742 and was a contemporary of ministers, Llewelyn Bevan and Joseph Simmons. He was said to have "troubled the theological waters" at both chapels, paving the way for the more liberal ministry at Gellionen of the Arminian minister, Josiah Rees. This is acknowledged in Volume IV of "Glamorgan County History", edited by Glanmor Williams, which describes how Arminian beliefs reached Gellionnen towards the end of Roger Howell's ministry there. This volume also makes reference to a list of churches in 1715, compiled by Dr John Evans, which records that alongside Llewelyn Bevan and John Davies, Roger Howell also ministered at Gwynfe in Carmarthenshire where the average attendance was 600.
Rees and Thomas offer the information that Roger was in fact, more influenced by the teachings of the 17th century minister, Richard Baxter who was tried for his nonconformist preachings by the infamous Judge Jeffries in 1685.
There is a record from 1723, of a Roger Howell of Llangiwc's (sic) subscription to an historical publication, "Llun Agrippa" by Mathew Mead. There are further subscription records for a Reverend Roger Howel in the years 1727 and 1732 to religious publications called "Dydd y Farn Fawr" by Thomas Vincent and "Afalau aur i bobl ifeingc" by Thomas Brooks - all published in Carmarthen. All of these records are likely to refer to the above Roger Howell.
There is a record in the Llangiwg parish records of a marriage between a Roger Howell (or Rogerus Hoel) of Llangiwg and an Elizabeth(a) David of Llangiwg on 1st June 1713. This would appear to be a suitable match for the birth of Howell Roger in 1717.
In the Llangiwg Church parish registers there is a record of the burial of a Roger Howel on 21st April 1742 which corresponds with the known year of Roger's death. However, given his nonconformist leanings and close connections to Gellionen and Cwmllynfell chapels, burial at Llangiwg parish church seems unlikely, unless there were earlier family links to the church. Having said that, a later, fellow minister of Cwmllynfell, Rev. William Evans was also buried at Llangiwg.
The burial of a Roger Howell on this date at Llangiwg corresponds with an inventory of the personal estate of a "Roger Howell of the parish of Llanguick", dated 27th April 1742. It reads:
|A true and perfect inventory of all the Goods, Chattels and whole personal Estate of Roger Howell of the Parish of Llanguick in the County of Glanorgan and Diocese of St. David's late deceased -
Six Cows, One Yearling, Two horses - 7: 0: 0
Two Sheep & Lambs and Poultry - 0: 5: 0
Household Stuff, Implements of Husbandry - 1: 10: 0
Horse, Saddle, Apparel and Books - 5: 0: 0
13: 15: 0
Appraised this seventeenth of April
1742, by - John Jones
& Benjamin John
Let administration of all Goods Chattels and whole personal Estate of Roger Howell of the Parish of Llanguick in the County of Glamorgan and Diocese
of St. David's late deceased, be granted to Margaret Howell his Relict being sworn this twenty seventh day of April 1742
E. Davies ??
(obtained from The National Library of Wales)
|Rev. Roger Howell was known to have maintained a smallholding. The inclusion of books, along with the horse and riding apparel that would be needed to travel between chapels, indicate that this might well be his estate. Cannot find a marriage entry for Roger Howell and a Margaret and (unless she married again), there is no record of any will or burial of (an appropriately aged) Margaret Howell at Llangiwg - although clearly one existed.|
A memorial tribute to the life of Roger's grandson, Rev. Roger Howell of Beckington (1742-1812), was published in "The Monthly Repository of Theology and General Literature" in 1813. It makes some references to Roger Howell Snr:
|The name of Roger Howell is still familiar in the neighbourhood of Gelli-Onnen amongst the more aged inhabitants and his memory is respected on account of his piety, learning and labours in the discharge of his pastoral office. His intimate knowledge in the scripture was so well known, that he was often referred to as a living concordance when in company and allusion had to any part of the Bible! Doubtless his memory was unusually strong, and in this respect, as well as in many others, his grandson and namesake much resembled him.|