no image

Owen Fitzpen (1582 - 1636)

Privacy Level: Open (White)
Owen Fitzpen aka Thigpen
Born in Weymouth, Dorsetshire, Englandmap
Ancestors ancestors
Husband of — married [location unknown]
Descendants descendants
Died in Lamorran, Cornwall, Englandmap
Profile last modified | Created 20 Sep 2012
This page has been accessed 1,026 times.


Owen was born in 1582. Owen Fitzpen ... He passed away in 1636. [1]

Owen Fitzpen was born at Weymouth or Melcombe Regis, Dorset, in 1582, during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I. He was the son of Robert Fitzpen (1555–1589) and Cecily Jordon (born 1559). With the English victory over the Spanish Armada in 1588, England became the major naval power in the world and, as a result, her merchant trade thrived.

With the death of his father when Owen was 7 years old, it was natural that he, the eldest son and second child of the family, would take to the newly found opportunities in seafaring and merchant trade and he attained a high degree of success in the business. His sister Cecily, only two years his senior, worked with the mother to hold the family together, by then consisting of his brothers Robert, age 6, David, age 4 and George, age 2.

While it is not known at what age Fitzpen became an apprentice seaman, it is known that he left home not many years after his father's death and worked his way up quickly in the business. He was married to Annie Coinie on July 3, 1603 in a wedding ceremony said to be lavish for his time and reflective of the status of a young merchant seaman.

His family benefited from his wealth, George becoming first Master of the Truro Grammar School (1621–1635) and then a Rector at St. Mary's Church in the same town, where he served for the next 26 years. David went to America and settled at Hingham, Massachusetts, where he became an ancestor of several veterans of the American Revolution through which the Daughters of the American Revolution trace their ancestry.

The most famous chapter in Owen's life, however, began when he was taken captive by Turkish pirates on March 24, 1620, while on a trading voyage in the Mediterranean Sea. More than likely, these were Barbary pirates, as historical accounts of the time considered any of the Muslims in the Mediterranean region to be Turks. For seven years, Owen and a number of other Christian captives served as slaves to the Turks near present-day Algiers. Their chance for freedom finally came when Owen and 10 other Christian captives (Dutch and French) were herded aboard a corsair with 65 Turks to set sail for their next assignment. Owen and the 10 other captives fought against the Turks for three hours and suffered five of their number slain before the surviving Turks surrendered the ship. Owen and his crew sailed the ship to Cartagena, Spain, where news of the mutiny reached the King. Owen was summoned to Madrid where the king offered him a captain's position and great favor if he would convert to Catholicism. Owen respectfully declined, sold the ship for 6,000 pounds sterling and made his way back to England, where he settled near his brother George in Cornwall. Owen died at the village of Lamorran on March 17, 1636 at age 54. George had the memorial put in St. Mary's Church shortly thereafter.

It is not known when the family name was changed from the old English form Fitzpen to Phippen, but it is generally believed this was done by his brother David to coincide with the move of his family to the Massachusetts Bay Colony. A number of David's descendants fought in the American Revolutionary War.

Owen and his wife, Annie, had at least three children born in Ireland before Owen's capture, one son of whom changed the spelling of the family name to Thigpen, yet a third variation. His grandson, James Thigpen, would be the first of his direct descendants to settle in America, this time to North Carolina. Thigpen's descendants would include two famous athletes, NFL great Yancey Thigpen (through slaveholders of the same name) and Major League Baseball's pitching sensation Bobby Thigpen.

Owen is also a first cousin (many times removed) of three U.S. presidents through his paternal grandfather-- Zachary Taylor, Rutherford B. Hayes and John F. Kennedy.


  • The New England Historical and Genealogical Register, Volume 49, p. 245
  1. Entered by Travis Wagner, Sep 20, 2012
  • Travis Wagner, firsthand knowledge. Click the Changes tab for the details of edits by Travis and others.

More Genealogy Tools

Sponsored by MyHeritage

Searching for someone else?
First: Last:

No known carriers of Owen's Y-chromosome or his mother's mitochondrial DNA have taken yDNA or mtDNA tests.

Have you taken a DNA test for genealogy? If so, login to add it. If not, see our friends at Ancestry DNA.


Owen is 24 degrees from Anne Buckmaster, 13 degrees from Franklin Roosevelt and 14 degrees from Victoria of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland on our single family tree. Login to find your connection.

F  >  Fitzpen  >  Owen Fitzpen