Sylvanus Jones Owen – Butler to Major-General John Vaughan

Sylvanus Jones Owen was born on 31st March 1903, the 6th of 9 children to Evan and Mary Ann Owen at Clywedog, one of a small group of cottages at the bottom of Torrent Walk, Brithdir. On leaving school in 1917 he commenced employment at Nannau the ancestral home of the Vaughan family. Sometime during the 1930s he became the Butler to Major-General John Vaughan and remained in this post until the General died in 1954.

During the 1920 & 1930s, the General and his staff would leave Nannau at the start of the fox hunting season and go to one of the many hunting lodges in Melton Mowbray to hunt with Quorn Hunt, the General was known to be one of “The Leicestershire Hunting Set”.

The Leicestershire Set in 1931 - Including Major-General John Vaughan. Photo courtesy of Bryan Panter.
The Leicestershire Set in 1931 – Including Major-General John Vaughan. Photo courtesy of Bryan Panter.

It was during the World War II when petrol rationing was in force that Sylvanus volunteered to cycle down to Dolgellau to collect the Sunday papers for his master when he lost control of the bike and crashed into a roadside tree, he was in a coma for many days but eventually recovered and returned to his position of Butler, but family recollections say he was the never the old Sylvanus afterwards.

On the day following Major-General John Vaughan’s death, Sylvanus was heard to comment that the General “was a very plain man, without adornment of any kind. He wore an old leather watch strap and his clothes were never new.” It was the highest compliment he could pay his master, for in common with many others, he worshipped him.

Every year he would visit all the Farm’s cottages on the estate collecting for the British Legion poppy appeal. Sylvanus died at the Hospital in Wrexham on 13th February 1958, aged 54. He was at that time staying at the home of his sister Jane in Aberhosen, Montgomeryshire.

Sylvanus was a practicing Methodist all his life, his grave is in the Capel Newyd Cemetery Brithdir (now a children’s nursery) next to the grave of his mother and father.



The late Mr Sylvanus Owen.

Our late friend was born and bred in the Brithdir area. He was one of eight children of the late Mr and Mrs Evan Owen, Clywedog. After his schooling he went at a very early age into service with the late Major General Vaughan, Nannau. He played a large part in his master’s life and served him faithfully. The simple relationship between them developed into pure friendship for many long years. He was a gentleman by nature, courteous, gentle, humble and liked by everyone who knew him. He was a faithful member of Bethel church, Llanfachreth while his health lasted. He frequented the services regularly, took part in the Prayer Meetings, and he had the special gift of being able to contribute to the cause of the Great Master. His contribution would be very generous: He gave from the heart because he received generously of the blessings of the Great Giver. He met a very nasty accident while at his work years ago, that greatly affected his health for months at that time, but he got the strength to return to his work to his own delight and his loved ones.

The loss of his master was very painful for him and in remembrance he presented a very honourable gift to St Machreth Church… (missing part) in hosptial. He returned to stay with his family at Aber Felin, Machynlleth, and Llwyncoed, Dolgellau, where he received care and every kindness from his sisters.

He died at the Maelor Hospital, Wrexham, February 13th, age 54. The area where he grew up was very dear to him. He regularly throughout his life payed visits and it was into her soil that his remains were placed near to the grave of his father and mother in the New Chapel cemetery, February 17th, 1958. A short service was held in the chapel and taking part were at the graveside the minister gave the reading and the Rev Hugh. Rememberance Service was held at Llanfachreth led by the Minister….. addressed (spoke) at the meeting.

We extend our condolences to his brothers and sisters who are in hiraeth (longing) and mourning for one so dear to them. They will have sweet memories of him, as will all who knew him.