Owen, Thomas (d.1598) (DNB00)

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OWEN, THOMAS (d. 1598), judge, second son of Richard Owen, a merchant of Shrewsbury, by his wife Mary (d. 1568), daughter of Thomas Ottley of the same town, was born at Condover in Shropshire. He went to Oxford, and graduated in arts on 17 April 1559, either at Broadgates Hall or at Christ Church. On 18 April 1562 he entered at Lincoln's Inn, and was called to the bar on 4 June 1570. He sat in parliament as M.P. for Shrewsbury in 1584–5. He became reader of the Inn in Lent term 1583, and a serjeant in 1589. He was appointed a member of the council of the marches of Wales at the end of 1590 (Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1581–90, p. 703), and a queen's serjeant on 25 Jan. 1593. ‘By his unwearied industry,’ says Wood (Athenæ Oxon. 3rd. edit. i. 673) ‘advanced by a good natural genie and judgment, he became a noted counsellor, and much resorted to for advice.’ He collected reports of decisions in the common pleas in law French, which were translated and printed in folio in 1656, and had generally a high reputation. Lord Burghley selected him as conveyancer to settle deeds in his behalf on the intended marriage of his granddaughter, Lady Bridget, with the Earl of Pembroke's eldest son in 1597 (State Papers, Dom. ed. Green, 1595–1597, p. 497). On 21 Jan. 1594 he became a judge of the court of common pleas, not, as Dugdale says, of the king's bench, but was not knighted. Further promotion to be master of the wards was expected for him, when he died on 21 Dec. 1598. He was buried in Westminster Abbey, on the south side of the choir, in a marble tomb with a recumbent effigy (Dart, Westminster Abbey, ii. 83; Neale, Westminster Abbey, , ii. 246). By his first wife, Sarah, daughter of Humphrey Baskerville, he had five sons—among whom was Sir Roger Owen [see below]—and five daughters. His second wife, Alice, is separately noticed. A portrait of Owen, by an unknown painter, was in 1866 in the possession of Mr. Reginald Cholmondeley.

Sir Roger Owen (1573–1617), the eldest surviving son, matriculated from Christ Church, Oxford, in 1590, and graduated B.A. in 1592. He became a barrister of Lincoln's Inn in 1613, and was treasurer of the inn in 1613. His residence was at Condover, Shropshire. He was elected M.P. for Shewsbury in 1597, and for Shropshire in 1601, 1605, 1610, and 1614. He was sheriff of Shropshire (1603–4). On 30 May 1604 he was knighted. In parliament he often sided with the opposition, although he was a champion of the clergy, and in 1610 he argued that the king must resign all claim to levy impositions by his own will. On 21 May he was one of the members deputed by the commons to confer with the lords on the question of impositions, and complicated the discussion by irrelevant remarks on the laws of foreign countries. His assiduous support of views unfavourable to the king led to his dismissal from the commission of the peace for Shropshire when the parliament of 1614 was dissolved. Owen was buried at Condover on 5 June 1617. Camden wrote of him, ‘multiplici doctrina tanto patre dignissimus.’ He married Ursula, daughter of William Elkin, the second husband of his stepmother, Alice, but left no male issue, and Condover passed to his brother, Sir William (Foster, Alumni; Gardiner, Hist. ii. 106, 238, 249; Fuller, Worthies, ed. Nichols, iii. 81; Owen and Blakeway, Sheriffs of Shropshire, p. 99).

[Foss's Lives of the Judges; Dugdale's Origin es, pp. 41, 253; Tanner's Bibl. Brit.; Miscellanea Genealog. et Herald. 2nd ser. ii. 370-1; Archæologia, vol. i. pp. xvii, xx; Foster's Alumni Oxon. 1500-1714; and see art. Owen, Alice.]

J. A. H.