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.