The census returns indicate that Rees Bowen, father of Sarah (Bowen) Davies, was born at Llanfaredd or at Nantmel, Radnorshire, but no baptism for him could be found in the registers of those parishes.


An important clue to Rees’s ancestry was found in the 1871 census returns for Llandrindod. Living in the household of Thomas Bowen, a son of Rees and Margaret (Ingram) Bowen, was a Jane Bowen, 15, born at Nantmel, who was described as a “cousin” of Thomas. A search of the Nantmel parish registers revealed the baptism, on 12 Dec 1863, of three children of William and Elizabeth Bowen of Tanyralt, including Jane whose date of birth was given as 13 Nov 1855. No other Jane Bowen baptisms were found at Nantmel in the period 1850-65 and a search of the 1861 census returns showed only the same Jane Bowen who could be the cousin of Thomas. The census returns showed that Jane’s father William Bowen was born about 1815 at Nantmel but no baptism record for him could be traced. However, the entry for his marriage in the Nantmel parish registers identified his father as Thomas Bowen, a farmer. William’s residence at Tanyralt or Danyrallt (several other variant spellings are recorded) confirms that his father was the Thomas Bowen of Danyrallt who died in 1848 and whose death was registered by his son William Bowen of Danyrallt.


An investigation of the family of Thomas Bowen of Danyrallt showed that he had been married to a woman named Margaret. No marriage for them was in the Nantmel parish registers, and a search of the Radnorshire, Breconshire and Montgomeryshire marriage indexes for the period 1754-1812 revealed just one marriage of a Thomas Bowen to a Margaret, that of Thomas Bowen and Margaret Preece at Llanfaredd in 1799. The baptisms of several other children of Thomas and Margaret, previous to those baptised at Nantmel, were recorded in the Llanfaredd parish registers. If the “cousin” Jane Bowen in the 1871 census returns was a first cousin, then Rees would have also been a son of Thomas and Margaret. This identification is supported by other evidence, including the statements in the 1861 and 1871 census returns that Rees was born at Llanfaredd (the only Bowen baptisms in the Llanfaredd parish registers and bishops’ transcripts between 1797 and 1820 are of children of Thomas Bowen), and onomastic evidence (Rees’s children included a Margaret and a Thomas as well as others with names also appearing among the children of Thomas and Margaret). Finally, a Thomas Bowen was a witness at the marriage of Rees and Margaret (Ingram) Bowen.


The earliest residence known for Thomas Bowen is “Llansaintfread”, given in the 1799 Llanfaredd parish register entry for his first marriage. This most likely referred to the neighbouring parish of Llansantffraed-yn-Elfael. The parentage of Thomas is uncertain but the burials in the Llansantffraed-yn-Elfael parish registers include Thomas Bowen of the Bwlch in 1795 and Ann Bowen in 1803. Thomas Bowen and Anne Bowens were married at Llanfaredd in 1759 (their surnames are written in the entry as Bowens but he signed as Thomas Bowen – she made her mark). These would make plausible parents for the Thomas married at Llanfaredd in 1799.


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1      THOMAS BOWEN of Gellunnen, Llanfaredd, Radnorshire, and of Danyrallt, Nantmel, farmer, was born ca 1765[1] and died on 12 May 1848 at Nantmel.[2] He married first, on 25 August 1799 at Llanfaredd, MARGARET PRICE,[3] daughter of John Price (see here). Margaret was baptised on 25 November 1778 at Llanfaredd and buried on 20 June 1827 at Nantmel. Thomas married second, on 4 December 1829 at Nantmel, MARY MORGAN. Mary was born ca 1759 and died on 5 December 1845 at Nantmel.[4]


Children of Thomas and Margaret (Price) Bowen:[5]

                  i          JOSEPH BOWEN of New Radnor, carpenter, b Llanfaredd, bap 8 Nov 1799, Llanfaredd,[6] bur 31 Mar 1865, New Radnor;[7] m(1) 12 Mar 1824, Nantmel, MARY LEWIS;[8] m(2) 25 Oct 1836, Old Radnor, ELIZABETH WATKINS.[9]

         ii          THOMAS BOWEN of Llanfihangel Nant Melan, farmer, b Llanfaredd, bap 27 Apr 1802, Llanfaredd,[10] d 14 Jan 1871, Llanfihangel Nant Melan;[11] m 31 Jul 1828, Discoed, ANN GUMMER.[12]

2       iii         REES BOWEN (ca 1804-1888); m MARGARET INGRAM.

         iv         ANNE BOWEN, bap 16 Feb 1807, Llanfaredd.[13]

                  v         HANNAH BOWEN, bap 17 May 1809, Llanfaredd;[14] m 11 May 1832, Nantmel, WILLIAM LEWIS.[15]

                  vi        ANNE BOWEN, bap 27 Feb 1812, Nantmel.[16]

                  vii       WILLIAM BOWEN of Danyrallt, farmer and grocer, b ca 1815, Nantmel,[17] d 17 Jan 1897;[18] m 25 Mar 1843, Nantmel, ELIZABETH PHILLIPS.[19]

         viii       MARY BOWEN, bap 13 Jan 1818, Nantmel,[20] bur 29 Oct 1822, Nantmel.[21]

         ix         DANIEL BOWEN of Walton and Womaston, carter, b Nantmel, bap 9 May 1822, Nantmel;[22] m 14 Dec 1847, Nantmel, SARAH WILLIAMS.[23]


2      REES BOWEN of Cae Bean, Llanyre, agricultural labourer and farmer, was born ca 1804 at Llanfaredd[24] and died on 7 June 1888 at Llandrindod.[25] He married on 12 May 1828 at Llanfihangel Helygen, MARGARET INGRAM,[26] daughter of Richard Ingram (see here). Margaret was born ca 1806 at Llansantffraed Cwmdeuddwr or at Nantmel, and died on 17 February 1878 at Llanganten, Breconshire.


          Children of Rees and Margaret (Ingram) Bowen:[27]

                 i              RICHARD BOWEN, coal miner, bap 8 Nov 1829, Llanfihangel Helygen,[28] living in 1851.[29]

                 ii            MARY BOWEN, b 29 Jan 1832, bap 19 Feb 1832, Llanidloes Wesleyan circuit;[30] m 4 Jun 1854, All Hallows, London Wall, ANGUS MACKAY.[31]

                 iii          JOHN BOWEN of Aymestrey, labourer, b 8 Sep 1833, Llanyre;[32] m 20 Feb 1860, Aymestrey, ELIZABETH VAUGHAN.[33]

                 iv           MARGARET BOWEN, bap 22 Mar 1835, Llanidloes Wesleyan circuit,[34] bur 5 May 1844, Llanyre.[35]

                 v          THEOPHILUS BOWEN, alias JAMES BOWEN,[36] of Llangynidr, Breconshire, coal miner, b Llanyre, bap 12 Jun 1836, Llanidloes Wesleyan circuit,[37] d 11 Feb 1917, Rassau;[38] m(1) 10 Nov 1863, Plough Chapel, Brecon, ANN WILLIAMS;[39] m(2) 10 Jan 1885, Bedwellty, MARGARET (SAMUEL) THOMAS.[40]

                 vi           ELIZABETH BOWEN, bap 26 Nov 1837, Rhayader Wesleyan circuit, bur 14 May 1844, Llanyre.[41]

                 vii          THOMAS BOWEN of Llandrindod, railway repairer,[42] b Llanyre,[43] bap 16 Jul 1839, Rhayader Wesleyan circuit, d ca 1886;[44] m 12 Dec 1865, Llandrindod, ANNE PUGH.[45]

                  viii         DAVID BOWEN, b Llanyre,[46] bap 23 Feb 1841, Rhayader Wesleyan circuit.

                 ix          DANIEL BOWEN of Llandrindod, carter,[47] b 5 Oct 1842, Llanyre,[48] bur 12 Nov 1864, Llanyre.[49]

                 x           SARAH BOWEN, b 29 Dec 1844, Llanyre,[50] d 11 Aug 1925, Lyonshall, Herefordshire;[51] m 13 Feb 1873, Hermon Chapel, Bryngwyn, HUGH LLOYD DAVIES[52] (see here).

                 xi          WILLIAM BOWEN of Llansantffraed-yn-Elfael, farmer,[53] b ca 1847, Llanyre,[54] d 13 Dec 1916;[55] m MARY.[56]

[1] Thomas’s death certificate gives his age as 83.

[2] Death certificate.

[3] Llanfaredd parish registers. The bride’s surname is spelt “Preece”.

[4] Nantmel parish registers (online at; death certificate of Mary Bowen. Her death certificate describes Mary as wife of Thomas Bowen, farmer, and the informant is Thomas Bowen, husband, of Danyrallt, Nantmel. The 1829 marriage entry for Thomas Bowen and Mary Morgan shows Thomas as a bachelor, which appears to be incorrect. Land tax records show that Danyrallt was occupied in 1828 by a Mary Morgans and by 1830 the occupier was Thomas Bowen.

[5] Llanfaredd parish registers and bishops’ transcripts; Nantmel parish registers; see the discussion above regarding the parentage of Rees and William. The Llanfaredd parish registers include a baptism of a child of Thomas Bowen of Gellunnen on 29 Jul 1804 but the name is left blank and there is no indication whether the child was male or female. There is no entry under this date in the bishops’ transcripts but on 29 Jun 1804, “Jn.”, son of Thomas and Margaret Bowen was baptised. This seems to have been around the most likely time for Rees’s birth and it is possible that there was some confusion about the name of the child if the entry in the bishops’ transcripts was written a long time after the baptism took place.

[6] Llanfaredd parish registers; 1851 census returns, New Radnor (National Archives, HO 107/2492, fol. 170).

[7] New Radnor parish registers (online at

[8] Nantmel parish registers.

[9] Radnorshire, Wales, Marriages, 1813-1838 (online at; 1841 census returns, New Radnor (HO 107/1459/4, fol. 10).

[10] Llanfaredd parish registers (online at; 1851 census returns, Llanfihangel Nant Melan (National Archives, HO 107/2492, fol. 181).

[11] Grant of probate.

[12] Radnorshire, Wales, Marriages, 1813-1838 (online at

[13] Llanfaredd parish registers (online at

[14] Llanfaredd parish registers.

[15] Nantmel parish registers (online at

[16] Nantmel parish registers.

[17] 1851 census returns, Nantmel (National Archives, HO 207/2494, fol. 184). The Nantmel parish registers (online at show the baptism of Mary, daughter of Thomas and Margaret Bowen, on 17 Jan 1815. It is possible that the child’s details in the entry are in error as this was around the time when William Bowen was born and no other plausible entry has been found for him.

[18] Monumental inscription at Nantmel.

[19] Nantmel parish registers.

[20] Nantmel parish registers.

[21] Nantmel parish registers.

[22] Nantmel parish registers; 1851 census returns, Abbeycwmhir (National Archives, HO 107/2494, fol. 7).

[23] Nantmel parish registers.

[24] There is some inconsistency in the census returns regarding the place and age of Rees Bowen. The information given is as follows: 1851, age 42, born at Nantmel; 1861, age 56, born at Llanvareth; 1871, age 64, born at Llanvareth; 1881, age 81, born in Radnorshire. Given that Rees’s parents lived at Llanfaredd around the time of his birth, it appears that “Nantmel”, given as his place of birth in 1851 is a mistake and that the entries for 1861 and 1871 are correct. Nantmel is also given as Margaret (Ingram) Bowen’s place of birth in 1851, contradicting the information in the later census returns.

[25] Death certificate. The informant was Rees’s son William Bowen of Cefnbuchan, Llansantffraed.

[26] Llanfihangel Helygen parish registers.

[27] Llanfihangel Helygen parish registers; registers of the Llanidloes and Rhayader Wesleyan circuits; birth certificate of Sarah Bowen; 1851 census returns, Llanyre (National Archives, HO 107/2494, fol. 197). In the 1861 census returns for Llanyre (National Archives, RG 9/4238, fol. 69), a five-year-old grandchild, Fena Bowen, born at Llandegley, was living with Rees and Margaret (Ingram) Bowen, but other research needs to be undertaken to confirm the child’s parentage.

[28] Llanfihangel Helygen parish registers.

[29] 1851 census returns, Bedwellty (National Archives, HO 107/2448, fol. 134).

[30] Llanidloes Wesleyan registers (National Archives, RG 4/4098).

[31] All Hallows, London Wall, parish registers. Mary’s age is given as 22 and her father as Rees Bowen, farmer. She was probably the Mary Ann Bowen, 19, dressmaker, born in Radnorshire, who is recorded in the 1851 census returns for St. Luke, Old Street (National Archives, HO 107/1521, fol. 218).

[32] Llanidloes Wesleyan registers (National Archives, RG 4/4098); 1851 census returns, Nantmel (National Archives, HO 107/2494, fol. 149).

[33] Marriage certificate; 1871 census returns, Aymestrey (National Archives, RG 10/2718, fol. 14.

[34] Llanidloes Wesleyan registers (National Archives, RG 4/4098).

[35] Llanyre parish registers.

[36] From 1836 until 1861, he appears in records as Theophilus Bowen. In the 1861 census returns for Llanyre, Theophilus appears to be listed twice, at different locations: firstly at 6 Gwar Fordd, Theophilus Bowen, 23, an agricultural labourer, born at Llanyre, with a wife Alice Bowen, and secondly at Aberithon, Theophilus Bowen, 23, a carter, born at Llanyre, married but without his wife in the household. No marriage has been found for Theophilus and Alice. Despite his distinctive name, no trace of Theophilus was found under that name after 1861. However, the marriage of a James Bowen, bachelor, 27, son of Rees Bowen, labourer, to Ann Williams, took place at the Plough Chapel, Brecon, in Nov 1863. Census returns give James’s place of birth as Nantmel or, in the case of the 1911 returns (National Archives, RG 14/33589), as “Llanyer” in Radnorshire, where Theophilus Bowen is known from earlier returns to have been born. Prior to 1863, there is no trace of a James Bowen, son of Rees Bowen, who could be the man who married Ann Williams. Given the matching age and the disappearance of Theophilus and appearance of James, it appears that they were the same person. Moreover, DNA testing shows matches between descendants of Sarah (Bowen) Davies and descendants of James Bowen of Llangynidr which are consistent with Sarah and James being siblings, lending further support to the placement of James Bowen in this family.

[37] Llanidloes Wesleyan registers (National Archives, RG 4/4098); 1851 census returns, Nantmel (National Archives, HO 107/2494, fol. 142).

[38] Death certificate.

[39] Marriage certificate.

[40] Marriage certificate.

[41] Llanyre parish registers.

[42] 1871 census returns, Llandrindod (National Archives, RG 10/5574, fol. 24).

[43] 1851 census returns, Llanyre (National Archives, HO 107/2494, fol. 197).

[44] Thomas was living at the time of the 1881 census returns (New House, Llandrindod, RG 11/5454, fol. 26), but in 1891 (1 Brickyard Cottage, Llandrindod), Anne (Pugh) Bowen is described as a widow.

[45] Llandrindod parish registers.

[46] 1851 census returns, Llanyre (National Archives, HO 107/2494, fol. 197). He may be the David Bowen, porter, son of Rees Bowen, labourer, who married Sarah Shaw on 1 Oct 1866 at St. Thomas, Liverpool. However, census returns indicate that the David Bowen who married Sarah was born in Herefordshire.

[47] 1861 census returns, Tygwynn, Llandrindod.

[48] Rhayader Wesleyan circuit registers; 1851 census returns, Llanyre (National Archives, HO 107/2494, fol. 197).

[49] Llanyre parish registers. Daniel was residing at Bailey Inon, Llandrindod, at the time of his death.

[50] Birth certificate.

[51] Death certificate.

[52] Marriage certificate.

[53] 1891 census returns, Llansantffraed-yn-Elfael (National Archives, RG 12/4566, fol. 40).

[54] 1851 census returns, Llanyre (National Archives, HO 107/2494, fol. 197).

[55] Diserth monumental inscription abstracts.

[56] Mary’s maiden surname may have been Weale, as the entry for the household of William Bowen in the 1891 census returns for Llansantffraed includes a Margaret Weale, described as William’s “mother”.