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OWEN, Sir JOHN (1600–1666), royalist colonel, was the eldest son of John Owen of Clenenny, Carnarvonshire, and Ellen Maurice, heiress of Clenenny and Porkington. His father was the fourth son of Robert Owen of Bodsilin, Carnarvonshire, the secretary to Walsingham. Owen was a staunch royalist, and is said by Lloyd to have taken part in seven battles, nine sieges, and thirty-two actions (Memoirs, p. 668). In 1644 he was governor of Harlech Castle, and vice-admiral of North Wales (Warburton, Prince Rupert, ii. 425). Numerous letters from Prince Rupert, giving him military instructions, are extant (Ormesby Gore MSS.) On 23 Oct. 1644 he was ordered to rendezvous at Ruabon, on 24 April 1645 to march to Hereford with a thousand men, and on 23 Feb. 1645–6 to rendezvous with the prince at Wrexham (Hist. MSS. Comm. 2nd Rep. pp. 86–7). He distinguished himself at the capture of Bristol by Rupert, and was desperately wounded there (Clarendon, vii. 133). On 10 Dec. 1644 he was appointed by Rupert governor of the town and castle of Ruabon, in succession to Archbishop Williams, who had been governor since 1 Aug. 1643. He was knighted by Charles on 17 Dec. 1644 at Oxford (Domestic Entry Book, 48A, Record Office). Williams had spent money on Ruabon Castle, and declined to give it up to Owen, and Owen had to seize it by something like force (9 May 1645). The appointment led to a long-standing quarrel with the archbishop, against whom Owen exhibited articles of high treason before Charles at Raglan on 20 July 1645 (Hist. MSS. Comm. 2nd Rep. p. 86). In September of the same year his commission as governor of the town and castle was renewed, but in August 1646 he yielded it up to the parliamentary Colonel Mytton [q. v.] (Conway taken by Storm; confirmed in The Weekly Account for 12–19 Aug. 1646). Owen treated at first independently with Mytton, but on the final surrender of the castle Williams played a treacherous part (see Hist. MSS. Comm. 2nd Rep. p. 86, 9 Nov. 1646; Hacket's ‘Extraordinary Apology for Williams’ in Scrinia Reserata, ii. 218). Owen subsequently retired to Clenenny, and numerous fines were levied out of his estate for delinquency—part of 4,071l. on 18 Feb. 1646–7, part of 1,000l. on 26 Sept. 1648, and his composition taken at a tenth and valued at 771l. on 27 May 1647 (Calendar of Committee for Compounding, pp. 58, 131, 1754).

In 1647 Prince Rupert invited Owen to enter the service of the king of France (Warburton, Prince Rupert, iii. 237), an offer which he seems to have declined. In 1648 he headed a last rising for Charles I along with Colonel Floyd; he led four hundred men to the attack of Carnarvon, defeated Major-general Mytton and William Lloyd, high sheriff of Merioneth, and laid siege to the town. Lloyd was wounded in the action, was made prisoner, and was dragged about the street till he bled to death (The Bloody Murthering of Mr. Lloyd, Brit. Mus.) The parliamentary troops being reinforced by the arrival of Colonels Carter and Twistleton, a second action took place at Llandegai. Owen was ultimately defeated, dragged from his horse, and made prisoner by one Captain Taylor, who was voted by the commons 200l. out of Owen's estate (Commons' Journals, v. 592, 10 June 1648). A few days before, on 3 June 1648, Sheriff Lloyd's family had been voted a sum of 1,000l. out of Owen's estate (Calendar of Committee for Compounding, p. 1842). Owen was committed close prisoner to Denbigh Castle (Hist. MSS. Comm. 7th Rep. p. 123), but was ordered by the commons to be sent for as a delinquent by the serjeant-at-arms on 14 June 1648, and on 26 July he was committed to Windsor Castle on a charge of high treason (Commons' Journals, v. 600, 648; see Gardiner, Civil War, iv. 251, and Carlyle, ii. 76, for an account of Cromwell's anger at the parliament's order for his removal to London).

The commons (10 Nov. 1648) and the lords (14 Nov.) passed, independently, an ordinance for the banishment of Owen along with James, earl of Cambridge, Henry, earl of Holland, Arthur, lord Capel, and George, lord Goring (Lords' Journals, x. 588), but it was subsequently determined to put them on their trial. On 3 Feb. 1648–9 they were ordered to appear for trial (see List of Judges of the Court, Brit. Mus. 669/83, f. 13), and on 6 March following all received sentence of death (Clarendon, xi. 256). Clarendon (vii. 261) asserts that, preferring to be beheaded in such good company, Owen made no effort to save his life, and that his sentence was remitted owing to Ireton's contemptuous charity. As a matter of fact, Owen petitioned for his life (Commons' Journals, vi. 158) on 7 March 1648–9, and a petition was also presented on his behalf on 8 March, when the vote for his respite passed by 28 to 23 (ib. p. 159), and he acknowledged the parliament's grace in a very humble epistle (Warburton, Prince Rupert, iii. 409; Hist. MSS. Comm. 7th Rep. p. 72). According to Sir Edward Nicholas, Owen was reprieved at the suit of the Spanish and Dutch ambassadors, and on the threat of his countrymen that they would slay a hundred of the parliamentary men in revenge if he were executed (Carte, Original Letters, i. 247). When the Restoration took place, Owen interceded on behalf of Edmond, a son of the regicide, James Chaloner [q. v.], alleging that he had been the only instrument under God of the preservation of his life.

Owen returned to his native county. But in 1659 he attempted to raise Anglesey, Carnarvon, and Merioneth, at the same time that Sir George Booth raised Cheshire. He failed, and his estates were again ordered to be sequestered, as he was ‘known to be fled,’ unless he appeared within ten days (Calendar of Committee for Compounding, p. 3250, 30 Sept. 1659 and 26 Jan. 1659–60). At the Restoration he petitioned for redress and revenge, but with what result does not appear (cf. Commons' Journals, viii. 180, 200, November 1660). In March 1663 he received, along with others, a grant of the overplus of prizes taken by the privateer Richard Pettingall from the Dutch for 20,970l. (Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1663).

Owen died in 1666, and was buried in the church of Penmorva, Carnarvonshire, where Pennant saw an inscription to him (Tour, p. 263). His estates still belong to his lineal descendant, Mrs. Ormesby Gore, by whom his portrait is preserved at Porkington (engraved in 4to edition of Pennant's ‘Tours,’ where is also a copy of his funeral inscription). An engraving of Owen by T. Caldwell is mentioned by Bromley.

Owen married, in 1617, Janet, daughter of Griffith Vaughan, sheriff of Merioneth (for whom see Dwnn, Visitations, ii. 219.) His eldest son, William, suffered sequestration in the wars (Lloyd, Memoirs, p. 569).

Owen's brother, Colonel William Owen, was governor of Harlech in Merionethshire, and was the contriver of the general insurrection in North Wales in 1648. He was captured at Nottingham in August of the same year, and suffered sequestration and banishment.

[Domestic Entry Book, 48A, Record Office (Catalogue of Knights); List of the Judges, &c. 1648–9; Conway taken by Storm, 19 Aug. 1646; Weekly Account for 12 Aug. 1646; Clarendon Rebellion, vii. 133, xi. 252, 256, 261; Gent. Mag. 1865, i. 75; Warburton's Prince Rupert, ii. 401, 425, iii. 61, 237, 409; Tanner MSS. lix. 471, 493, 562, 575, 580, 612; Old Parliamentary Hist. xv. 2, 171; Cary's Civil War, i. 177; Carlyle's Cromwell, i. 304–7, 424–427; Lloyd's Memoirs, p. 568; Pennant's Tour in Wales, i. 262, 263; Williams's Dict. of Eminent Welshmen; Dwnn's Heraldic Visitation of Three Counties of North Wales, ii. 219; Rushworth II. iv. 1146, 1130; Commons' Journals, v. 592, 600, 648, vi. 158–9, viii. 180; Lords' Journals, x. 588–600; Addit. MS. 5847, ff. 397, 444; State Papers, Dom. 1645; Calendars, 1645–65; Calendar of Committee for Compounding; Hist. MSS. Comm. 2nd Rep. p. 86 (account of the Ormesby Gore MS., from which Warburton drew largely, and which contains numerous references to Sir John Owen), 7th Rep. pp. 71, 123, 8th Rep. p. 200; Fairfax Correspondence, II. ii. 65; Gardiner's Civil War, iii. 393, 515, 521; The Cruel and Bloody Murthering of Mr. Lloyd, High Sheriff of Merioneth, 1648; A Perfect Diurnall, 16 Nov. 1646; Hacket's Scrinia Reserata, ii. 218; Carte's Original Letters, i. 247.]

W. A. S.