Owen, Samuel

WM layman and mechanical engineer, born on 12 May 1774 at Norton in Hales, Salop. Having worked on the building of Boulton and Watt's foundry at Soho, Birmingham, he stayed on as a pattern-maker and foundryman and was initiated into iron-working skills. He went from Leeds to Sweden in 1804 to develop and build steam engines and became chief mechanic at the Bergsund foundery in Södermalm, Stockholm. In 1809 he built his own foundry at Kungsholm, where he led the field in building steam engines, steamships and rolling mills. He built Sweden's first iron bridge in 1815 and first steamboat in 1816. Competition led to his bankruptcy in 1843, but he continued his career until 1851. He died in Stockholm on 15 February 1854.

Seeing an opening for Methodism, he wrote to the Missionary Committee in 1825, requesting a 'young man of good abilities' to preach to his family, workmen and any others willing to attend. Underwriting the costs of the appointment, he overcame Swedish legal restrictions on missionary activity and became a leading figure in Swedish evangelical circles. Esteemed by government and decorated by the king, he made possible the development of a chapel and regular, well-attended Methodist worship under Joseph Rayner Stephens and George Scott.

  • Oxford DNB