willing to be examined, but scrupled at presbyterian ordination. On 11 Sept. 1646 he obtained a certificate of character and gifts, signed by Charles Herle [q. v.], prolocutor of the assembly, and seventeen divines, including Marshall, Joseph Caryl [q. v.], Christopher Love [q. v.], Philip Nye [q. v.], and Peter Sterry. His position at this time was that of an independent; the difficulty about ordination was met by considering him as not fixed to a particular church, but a minister at large. When on a preaching mission to the forces acting against Anglesea (still held for the crown), he received a bullet-wound; in the midst of the fray he fancied himself addressed by a voice from heaven, ‘I have chosen thee to preach the gospel.’ In addition to his itinerant labours, which took him into nearly every parish in Wales, he was the means of erecting some twenty ‘gathered churches,’ and creating a band of missionary preachers. Hence he got the nickname ‘metropolitan of the itinerants.’ He was himself ‘pastor’ of the church at Newtown, Montgomeryshire, and ordained as such. Parliament voted him 100l. a year, of which he received some 60l. a year for about eight years; he denies that he derived any other income from his Welsh work. He certainly refused in 1647 the sinecure rectory of Penstrowed, Montgomeryshire, on the ground of his objection to tithe (Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1656, p. 140). In 1649 he built himself a house at Goitre in the parish of Kerry, Montgomeryshire; this estate was probably derived from his wife. He had purchased church lands, yielding 70l. a year, which at the Restoration he lost.
Towards the end of 1649 he visited London, to obtain fresh powers for his Welsh mission. He preached on 10 Dec. 1649 before the lord mayor (Thomas Foot), and on 28 Feb. 1650 before parliament. Between these dates he held a discussion (31 Dec.) with John Goodwin [q. v.] on universal redemption. On 22 Feb. 1650 an act was passed appointing a commission ‘for the better propagation and preaching of the gospel in Wales, and redress of some grievances.’ Powell was one of twenty-five ministers by whose approbation and recommendation the commissioners were to proceed; the commission was to last for three years from 25 March 1650. At the head of the commission and the director of its policy was Thomas Harrison (1606–1660) [q. v.]; but no one was more active than Powell in the business of displacing clergy for alleged incompetence, and substituting puritan preachers, often unordained. Walker, who analyses the proceedings of the commission at great length (relying, however, on Griffith, without noticing Powell's tracts in reply), thinks it proof of the sufficiency of the sequestered clergy that they were graduates. Baxter, who regarded Powell as ‘an honest injudicious zealot,’ was yet of opinion that the clergy whom he displaced were ‘all weak, and bad enough for the most part.’ Towards the end of 1651 Powell (and Cradock also) was commanding a troop of horse under Harrison in the north (ib. 29 Nov. 1651). On 11 June 1652 Powell issued a challenge to discuss with any minister in Wales the two points of ordination and separation. The challenge was accepted on 13 June by George Griffith [q. v.] in a Latin letter, to which Powell returned (19 June) an answer in very halting latinity. The discussion came off on 23 July. Each published his own account of it, and claimed the victory. It seems agreed that Powell showed no familiarity with the academic mode of disputation.
On the expiry of the commission he returned to London. As a republican he strenuously opposed the recognition of Cromwell as lord protector, and on the very day when the lord protector was proclaimed (Monday, 19 Dec. 1653), preaching in the evening at Blackfriars (ib. xliv. 305), he denounced the proceeding. He was taken (21 Dec.), with Christopher Feake [q. v.], before the council of state at Whitehall, (where he preached to the people while waiting in the anteroom), and detained in custody for some days. Being released (24 Dec.), he preached in a similar strain in the afternoon of Christmas day at Christ Church, Newgate, and an order for his arrest was issued on 10 Jan. Returning to Wales, he drew up (1655) a ‘testimony’ (printed in Thurloe, iv. 380) against the usurpation, which was signed by three hundred persons. For this he was apprehended at Aberbechan, Montgomeryshire, and brought before Major-general James Berry [q. v.] at Worcester. Berry's letter to Cromwell (21 Nov. 1655; Thurloe, iv. 228) shows that he did not think Powell's ‘testimony’ meant more than the relieving of his conscience. Powell had preached four times at Worcester ‘very honestly and soberly,’ had dined with Berry, and been dismissed under promise to appear when sent for.
The recognition of Cromwell's new position made a division among the Welsh independents. Cradock drew up a counter-address, which was signed by 758 persons, and presented to Cromwell. This may account in part for Powell's somewhat sudden transition to the baptist section of the independents. By 24 Feb. 1654 he was reported as preaching against the baptism of infants, yet in the same year he emphasised his differences with