Owen, Josiah (DNB00)
OWEN, JOSIAH (1711?–1755), presbyterian minister, was born about 1711. He was a nephew of James Owen (1654–1706) [q. v.], and of Charles Owen, D.D. [q. v.], and is generally said to have been the son of their eldest brother, David Owen (d. 7 Oct. 1710, aged 59), minister of Henllan, Carmarthenshire. He may have been a posthumous son, but he has probably been confused with David Owen's son Jeremiah, who was educated by James Owen, succeeded his father at Henllan, and, after holding various pastorates in England, died in America. Josiah Owen was educated by his uncle, Charles Owen, at Warrington. His first settlement was at Bridgnorth, Shropshire (after 1729), which he left in 1735. He then ministered for short periods at Walsall, and at Stone, Staffordshire. Some time after June 1740 he became minister of Blackwater Street Chapel, Rochdale, Lancashire. His ministry was immediately successful, and his chapel was enlarged in 1743. He came into note in connection with the rebellion of 1745 as a strong writer against the political and religious principles of the Jacobites. To him has been assigned the pun on the word Jacobite which belongs to Daniel Burgess (1645–1713) [q. v.] He published a sermon with the title, ‘All is well; or the Defeat of the late Rebellion … an exalted and illustrious Blessing,’ 1746. In his treatment of Thomas Deacon [q. v.], whom he calls ‘the Master-Tool’ of the faction, he was particularly harsh. An anonymous letter (dated ‘Manchester, 6 Oct. 1746’) in the ‘Whitehall Evening Post’ (11 Oct.) scoffed at Deacon for pulling off his hat when passing the ‘rebel heads’ of his unfortunate son and another insurgent, affixed to the Manchester Exchange. ‘Some suppose he offers up a prayer for them, others to them.’ This letter was defended in the ‘Gentleman's Magazine’ by a letter (dated ‘Manchester, 19 Dec. 1746’) bearing the odd signature ‘Philopatriæ,’ which Owen subsequently acknowledged as his. John Byrom [q. v.] referred, in ‘An Epistle to a Friend,’ to ‘the low-bred O——ns of the age,’ and published a ballad on ‘the zealot of Rochdale,’ under the title of ‘Sir Lowbred O .. N, or the Hottentot Knight,’ retorting a coarse gibe by Owen. The latter was fully persuaded of the goodness of his cause, but not sufficiently careful of his facts. Though nominally a presbyterian, he was warmly opposed to ‘synods and assemblies,’ and is said to have been instrumental (about 1750) in prevailing with the ‘provincial meeting’ of the ‘associated ministers of Lancashire’ to discontinue the customary questions respecting the internal state of congregations. In debate, as in pamphlet war, he was famous for his powers of retort. His ministry at Rochdale closed on 14 June 1752. He became minister of the presbyterian congregation at Ellenthorp, Yorkshire, where he died in 1755, ‘æt. 44.’ He published, in addition to separate sermons, including funeral sermons for Charles Owen, D.D. (1746), and James Hardman (1746): 1. ‘A Letter to the Bishop of Litchfield and Coventry,’ &c., 1746, 8vo; two editions in the same year. 2. ‘Jacobite and Non-juring Principles freely Examined,’ &c., Manchester, 1747, 8vo; 2nd edit. 1748, 8vo: to some copies of the second edition a new title-page, ‘The Humourist,’ &c., was prefixed (among other answers was ‘A Letter to the Clergy of Manchester,’ probably by Thomas Percival (1719–1763), of Royton Hall). 3. ‘Dr. Deacon try'd before his own Tribunal,’ &c., Manchester, 1748, 8vo.
[Gentleman's Magazine, 1746 pp. 579 seq. 688 seq., 1747 pp. 76 seq., 1748 pp. 206 seq.; Monthly Repository, 1821, p. 478; Lathbury's Hist. of the Nonjurors, 1845, pp. 391 seq.; Christian Reformer, 1856, pp. 356 seq.; Byrom's Diary (Chetham Soc.), 1857, ii. 431; Miall's Congregationalism in Yorkshire, 1868, p. 260; Halley's Lancashire, 1869, ii. 364 seq (calls him James Owen); Unitarian Herald, 11 June and 7 July 1882 (articles by Richard Pilcher); Rees's Hist. Prot. Nonconf. in Wales, 1883, p. 294; Nightingale's Lancashire Nonconformity , iii. 242; Poems of John Byrom (Chetham Soc.), 1894, ii. 352, 358 sq.]