Powys Digital History Project

The beginnings of dissent
Vavasor Powell (1617-1670)

  An itinerant preacher
According to his enemies, he was the son of an innkeeper and oatmeal dealer of Knucklas in Radnorshire. He worked for a while as an hostler at Bishops Castle before being sent by his uncle, the vicar of Clun, to Oxford University. Vavasor, however, dropped out to become a schoolteacher at Clun.
He first married a widow, Mrs Quarrell of Presteigne, and after her death married Katherine, the daughter of General Gilbert Gerard. Probably influenced by puritan thinking at Oxford, he became an itinerant preacher around 1638-9.
  He went to London at the outbreak of civil war in 1642, returning to Wales after the surrender of Raglan Castle gave Parliament control of Wales in 1646. He resumed his evangelism and created a band of missionary preachers, earning him the nickname, "Metropolitan of the Itinerants". 

Goetre, Kerry

Photograph by kind permission of the Powysland Museum

Powell's house at KerryPurge of the clergy
He became pastor of Newtown, and built a house at Goetre in Kerry. With the 1650 Act for the Propagation of the Gospel in Wales, he was one of 25 Approvers who advised the commissioners, being very active in replacing clergy for alleged incompetence and substituting puritans. He caused the rectors of New Radnor, Gladestry, Cascob, Cefnllys and Llandegley and the vicar of Llanbadarn-fawr to be deprived of their benefices between 1650 and 1653. 
  In the heady climate of religious freedom which came with the Commonwealth there was a turmoil of discussion, with new sects springing up. Powell became certain that the time of earthly powers was over and that the second coming of Christ was imminent. Along with other Fifth Monarchists he protested at Cromwell's assumption of title of Protector, was briefly imprisoned in 1653-4, and became involved in the suppression of a Royalist uprising in the following year. 
  Press advertisementArrest and imprisonment
At about this time, Alexander Griffith, who had been expelled from his living at Glasbury for "drunkenness and lasciviousness", published the vituperative pamphlet, Hue and Cry after Vavasor Powel. Powell was arrested at the Restoration and released the same year. He continued to preach, was arrested several times, and was then imprisoned for rejecting the oath of supremacy. He was committed to the Fleet Prison between 1660 and 1662, and to Southsea Castle from 1662-67. After the fall of Lord Clarendon he obtained his release in November1667, but was arrested on a preaching tour in October 1668 and was returned to the Fleet Prison, where he died.