Open main menu


OWEN, GRIFFITH (d. 1717), colonist and doctor, was son of Robert Owen (d. 1684) of Dolsereau, Dolgelly, by Jane, his wife, born in Merionethshire. Having been educated for the medical profession, he emigrated in 1684, with his parents, to Pennsylvania, where he was one of the first doctors in the new colony founded by William Penn [q. v.] He settled in Philadelphia, and became a member of the executive council, a justice of the peace, and a commissioner for the disposal of land. In the autumn of 1699, Philadelphia being visited by a malignant disease called by Isaac Norris ‘the Barbadoes distemper,’ which carried off 220 persons between August and 22 Oct., Owen and a son, who commenced practice at that time, distinguished themselves by their devotion and skill.

Owen undertook long journeys, both alone and with English ministers, to distant meetings of the quakers in America, and worked among the Indians. He was much esteemed in the colony, and Penn, when troubled about his son William, expressed his wish that the young man's confidence might be gained by ‘tender Griffith Owen, for he feels and sees’ (Private Life of W. Penn, Pennsylvania Hist. Soc. iii. 98). Owen died at Philadelphia in 1717. His son the physician died on 7 March 1731–2. Owen wrote, with some others, ‘Our Antient Testimony renewed,’ &c., against George Keith (1639?–1716) [q. v.], London: printed and sold by T. Sowle, 1695; reprinted in the appendix (pp. 31–40) to Gerard Croese's ‘History of Quakers,’ 1696.

[Morris's Contributions to Med. Hist. in Mem. of the Hist. Soc. of Pa. pp. 339–43; Journal of Thomas Story, pp. 173, 176–7, 227, 240, 241; Index to Obituary Notices in Pennsylvania Gazette; Pennsylvania Mag. x. 67, 237, 344, xiii. 169 n.; Penn and Logan Correspondence, Pennsylvania Hist. Soc. ix. 161, 162, 171, 177, 181, 201, 206, 214, 220, 250, 256, 268; Janney's Hist. of Friends, iii. 53, 187–8; Proud's Hist. of Pennsylvania, ii. 99, 100; Smith's Catalogue; Gordon's Hist. of Pennsylvania, p. 592.]

C. F. S.