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Owen, William (1469?-1574) (DNB00)


OWEN, WILLIAM (1469?–1574), lawyer, born about 1469 in Pembrokeshire, was the son of Rhys ap Owen of Henllys, near Newport, Pembrokeshire, by Jane, daughter of,' Owen Elliott of Earwere in the same county. According to his son's account, he was a fellow-student and near 'cousin of Sir Thomas Elyot' [q. v.] An ancestor, Richard de Hoda, had married Ales, the only daughter of Nicholas Fitzmartin, great-grandson of Martin of Tours and lord of the barony of Kemes in Pembrokeshire ; in virtue of this descent, Owen, after a suit which lasted nineteen years, recovered the barony of Kemes from Sir John Tuchet, son of James, lord Audiey (beheaded in 1497), into whose family it had passed in the female line (Campen, Britannia, 6th ed. 1607, p. 512). In the deed of release, which is dated 21 Aug. 1543, Owen is described as of Maesgwenith in the county of Monmouth, but the family residence was Henrys, Pembrokeshire. Owen became a member of the Middle Temple, where he was 'chamber-fellow with Sir Anthony Fitzherbert' (1470–1538), whose 'Abridgment of the Laws' ('La Graunde Abridgement,' London, 1514) he is said to have written out. He himself compiled a much less bulky abridgment, 'in soe small a volume as the price thereof was but 12d.,' entitled 'Le Bregement de toutes les Estatutes . . . nouvellemet Abbreges correctes, et amendes,' par 8vo (London, 1521, 8vo, 2nd ed. 1528; both editions, being printed by Pynson). The running title of the work is 'Le Bregement de Statutis,' and the articles are in alphabetical order (Ames, Typographical Antiquities, ed. Herbert, i. 268, 281). Williams, in his 'Eminent Welshmen,' attributes to Owen an earlier edition, dated 1499, of which there is a copy without a title-page in the British Museum. Many years before his death he gave up the practice of the law, and retired to Pembrokeshire, where, among other offices, he held that of vice-admiral for South Wales.

He was also one of the Pembrokeshire members of the commission appointed in 1537 for the division of Wales into counties. He died 29 March 1574, and was buried the following day at Nevern, Pembrokeshire (Owen, Pembrokeshire, i. 239 ; Arch. Cambr. 1867, 3rd ser. xiii. 132). According to his son's account, he 'was present at the coronation and proclamation of thirteen kings and queens of England, and lived under the fourteenth, and also saw eight bishops in St. Davids, and all his lifetime was never sick but once, and at his dying day wanted not one tooth,'

Owen married Elizabeth, daughter of Sir George Herbert, brother to William, first earl of Pembroke of the Herbert line (second creation), and by her he had, among other children, George Owen (1652-1613) [q. v.] He had also several illegitimate children, some of whom are mentioned in Dwnn's 'Heraldic Visitations' (i. 157).

[The chief authority is the Description of Pembrokeshire by his son George Owen (1552-1613) [q. v.], edited by Mr. Henry Owen, 1892, pp. 236-9, and Introduction generally; see also Fenton's Pembrokeshire, p. 563.]

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