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Goronwy Owen - Lawrenceville, VA
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member Marine Biologist
N 36° 45.567 W 077° 51.050
18S E 245517 N 4071978
Quick Description: A Celtic cross monument to Goronwy Owen, one of the 18th century's greatest Welsh poets, is located in Lawrenceville, Virginia, USA.
Location: Virginia, United States
Date Posted: 12/15/2008 5:44:34 AM
Waymark Code: WM5BX3
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member silverquill
Views: 8

Long Description:
The Celtic cross monument to Goronwy Owen is located on the grounds of the St. Andrew's Episcopal Church in Lawrenceville, Brunswick County, Virginia.

A Brunswick County/Lake Gaston Tourism Office website provides the following information:

A famous 18th century Welsh poet, Goronwy Owen, who was also a clergyman, spent his last years in Brunswick County, as rector from 1761 to 1769 of the colonial St. Andrew's Parrish. He wrote his last poem in this county. An elegy for a Welsh friend, the poem, written in Welsh, is remarkable for its use of ancient Welsh poetic devices. It refers to forest, insects and Indians of Brunswick County, and so is an interesting bit of American and of Virginia history.

Owen's life was often tempestuous. He came to America in 1758 at age 35 to accept a teaching position at the grammar school at William and Mary, but soon was asked to leave because of involvement in a student fray. Brunswick County court records show that in 1765 the Rev. Goronwy Owen was fined five shillings and fifty pounds of tobacco for "getting drunk'. Twice-widowed, Owen married a third wife in Brunswick County, and acquired a small cotton and tobacco plantation. A colonial-style dwelling is still on the property. None of the church buildings served by Owen survive.

Brunswick County was a frontier region when Owen arrived in 1761, on appointment by the colonial governor of Virginia, to serve the churches of St. Andrew's Parish. The poem Owen wrote in Brunswick County expresses homesickness for Wales.

If his Brunswick County congregations knew of Owen's fame as a poet, it was soon forgotten after his death. Nor did his Welsh friends and admirers know the details of his life in America. Only in the 20th century did scholars and clergymen rediscover the story of Goronwy Owen in Virginia. Rev. Edwin T. Williams and Mrs. Lloyd V. Bell, Jr. were active in this research in Brunswick County.

Now a marble stone marks Owen's grave at this home-site; a plaque honors him at William and Mary College; and St. Andrew's Episcopal Church in Lawrenceville has in its churchyard a stone Celtic cross to his memory.

Each year, on the Sunday nearest St. David's Day (March 1), St. Andrew's, (in Lawrenceville, VA) holds Celtic Heritage celebration, remembering the colonial rector from Wales. Descendants of Owen, and persons interested in his poetry, are special guests.

Owen's work, totaling 55 poems, is not well known outside of Wales, because of translation difficulties, but two of his poems, translated into English, are in the Penquin Book of Welsh Verse. The Friends of Wales in Williamsburg are currently (1999) working on a new translation of the poem Owen wrote in Brunswick County.

Relevant Web Site: Not listed

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