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Thomas Owen (abt. 1538 - 1598)

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Justice Thomas Owen
Born about in Shrewsbury St Chad, Shrewsbury, Shropshire, Englandmap
Ancestors ancestors
Husband of — married about 1569 in Londonmap [uncertain]
Husband of — married 3 Mar 1595 in St Pancras, Soper Lane, City of London, Englandmap
Descendants descendants
Died in London, Englandmap [uncertain]
Profile last modified 17 Jul 2019 | Created 11 Mar 2013
This page has been accessed 1,056 times.



The following is from Macleane (1897)[1].

Thomas Owen, born at Condover, Salop, the son of Richard, a Shrewsbury merchant of old descent, was 'for some time conversant among the Muses either in Broadgates Hall or in Ch. Church. From thence (having first taken a degree in Arts, as it seems [B.A. April 17,1559]) he retired to Lincoln's Inn, where by his unwearied industry, advanced by a good natural genie and judgment, he became a noted Councellour and much resorted to for his advice. In 25. Elizab. dom. 1583. he was elected Lent-Reader of that house [Treasurer 1589-1598], in 1590 he was by Writ called to the degree of Serjeant at Law, and about that time [1594] made the Queen's Serjeant, and at length one of the Justices of the Common Pleas [1594], which last place he executed for 5 years with great integrity, equity, and prudence. He was a learned man, and a great lover of learning and those that professed it. He dying 21. Decemb. in fifteen hundred ninety and eight, was buried on the S. side of the Choire (1) of St. Peter's Church in Westminster. Over his grave was soon after erected a noble monument of Alabaster, Marble, and divers coloured stones, adorned with Arms, and gilt with Gold, with his Image in scarlet robes lying thereon which remains to this day. He left behind him a Son named Roger, who was a Knight, and [Camden writes] for his manifold learning, a right Worthy Son of so Good a Father. This Sir Roger2, who had been a great Friend to the Clergy, by vindicating them when aspersed in open Parliament, 11 Jac. I. dyed in a distracted condition to their great reluctancy, 29. May, being Holy Thursday, in 1617.' Nothing is extant of Thomas Owen's but his Reports in the Common Pleas.

(1) West of the transept, next the bust of Pasquale da Paoli. The inscription is as follows:—

Deo Trino Et Uni Sacrum.

Secundum Christi Redemptoris adventu sub hoc tumulo expectat Thomas Owen, Arm. filius Richardi Owen ex Maria altera filia et haerede Thomae Oteley de comitatu Salopiae arm. Qui ab adolescentia studiis juris municipalis Angliae innutritus ita industria ingenio et judicio claruit ut primum electus fuerit Dnae Reginae Elizab. serviens ad legem inde in consessum Justiciariorum Communium placitorum co-optatus, inter quos cum quinq; annos singulari intergritatis acquitatis et prudentiae laude sedisset, et ex Sara uxore charissima filia et una haeredum Humfredi Baskerville quinq; filios et totidem filias suscepisset, Alicia fideli uxore secunda superstite, pie in Christo obdormivit xvi die Decemb. Ano Salutis M. D. xcviii.

Rogerus Owen filius maestissimus patri optimo et charissimo officiosae pietatis et memoriae ergo hoc monumentum posuit.

Below on either side: 'Justorum animae in manu Dei sunt' and 'Spes vermis et ego.'

Owen married twice, (1) Sarah, sister of Sir Humphrey Baskerville, (2) Alice, widow of Mr. Elks, mercer and alderman of London. She endowed a hospital at Islington for ten poor women, and a school for thirty boys, in grateful remembrance of her escape in childhood, when an arrow pierced her hat. To Bodley's library in 1606 she gave £100. The estate of Condover is still in the Owen family.

(2) He was M.P. for Shrewsbury and for Shropshire, and sheriff. Another son, Richard, was also a lawyer.

Other Biography

Thomas Owen was born in the parish of St Chad Shrewsbury, Shropshire[2].

In the Owen pedigree in the Visitation of Shropshire[3][4] Thomas was recorded as the son of Richard Owen and Mary Oteley. Thomas had married Sarah, daughter of Humfrey Baskerville. Their children were Roger, Thomas, Richard, Peter, William, Elizabeth (wife of Henry Smith of Corsham), Jane (wife of Bonham Norton), Sarah (wife of John Newton), Mary (wife of Edward Kynaston) and Margaret (wife of Richard Mitton).

He was also noted in the Oteley pedigree[5], the Ireland pedigree[6] and the Cole of Shrewsbury pedigree[7] in the Visitation of Shropshire.

Thomas Owen was bequeathed £100 by Thomas (Customer) Smythe in the will of the latter made in 1591[8]. The Testator referred to him as "my lovinge ffreinde Thomas Owen Seriannt at Lawe". Elizabeth the daughter of Thomas Owen had married Henry the son of Thomas (Customer) Smythe. NB A Serjeant at law, socially, ranked above Knights Bachelor and Companions of the Bath[9].

Thomas was also noted in the will of Alice Smythe, the wife of Customer Smythe, the will made in 1592[10]. She bequeathed "Master Sariannte Owen for a Ringe, three Poundes".

Thomas Owen Serjeant at law, was an Overseer of the will of Steven Duckett esq of Pinhills, Wiltshire, the will made on 29 Apr 1591 and proved on 08 May 1591. Steven Duckett was the husband of Anne Baskerville, Thomas' sister in law[11].

"Thomas Judge Owen and Alice Elkyn were married the thirde daye of Marche AD 1594" [i.e. 03 Mar 1594/1595] at St Pancras Soper Lane, City of London[12].

In 1597 he was noted in the will of a Richard Owen, gentleman of Shrewsbury[13]. Thomas was bequeathed a hoope ringe of gold and was desired to be good to the Testator's son, Humfrey Owen.


The following is summarised from Foss[14]:

18 Apr 1562. Admitted at Lincoln’s Inn
04 Jun 1570. Called to the bar
1583. Reader in Lent
1589. Appointed a Serjeant at Law
1593. Appointed a Queen’s Serjeant
21 Jan 1594. Appointed a Chief Justice and Judge of the Common Pleas


Though no longer existing, the following bearings are recorded to have been originally on the monument to Thomas Owen in Westminster Abbey[4][15].

Quarterly of Twelve, viz:

I. Arg. A Lion ramp, and a Canton, Sab. [Owen. Also referred to as the arms of his direct male ancestor Jevan ap Jevan Voel Frych of Kaereinion]
2. Arg. a Cross Patonce Sab. betw. four Cornish Choughs Prop, a Chief Az. [Owen. Also referred to as the arms of his direct male ancestor Idnerth Benvras]
3. Gu. six Fleurs de Lis Arg. [Ireland]
4. Arg. on a Bend Az. Three Garbs Or. [Oteley]
5. Arg. a Chev. Gu. betw. three Scorpions, erected,Sab. [Cole]
6. Gu. an Eagle displayed, with two Heads, Or. [Eyton]
7. three Barrulets, and in Chief three Griffins' Heads, erased, Or.
8. Gu. three Birds, each perched on the Stump of a Tree, erased, Arg.
9. Arg.a Fess betw. three Birds in Chief and one in Base, Sab. [Onslow]
10. Arg. a Chev. betw. three Talbots passant, Sab. [Talbot]
11 Gu. a Fleur de Lis Or.
12. Az. a Fess betw. six Cross Croslets, fitchee, Or.

Oteley was his mother and Ireland his paternal grandmother. The connections with Cole, Eyton, Talbot and Onslow are indicated in the Eyton pedigree[16] and Cole of Shrewsbury pedigree in the Visitation of Shropshire.

The notes in the Owen of Shrewsbury pedigree in the Visitation of Shropshire suggest that 7 may be Barker alias Coverall; 8 is unknown; 11 may be Gerband, Lord of Treffnant 1274; and 12 = Pipe.

Death and Burial

The Neale Transcript of the Inscription on his monument in Westminster Abbey recorded that he 'slept in Christ' on 21 Dec 1598[15]. However, the Transcript in Macleane[1] recorded the date as 16 Dec 1598.

The Register of St Michael Bassishaw, City of London, contains the following entry: "20 Dec 1598 was buryed Mr Thomas Owen"[17]. The Harleian Society Transcript for this entry states that he was buried in the Abbey of Westminster and he died in this parish[18].


Translation of Monumental Inscription[19].

"Sacred to the Triune God expecting the second coming of Christ our Redeemer, under this tomb lies Thomas Owen Esq. son of Richard Owen, by Mary, daughter of Thomas Otley of the county of Salop [Shropshire] Esq., who from his youth instructed in the study of the municipal laws of England, so prospered in industrious application, readiness and judgment, that he was first chosen Serjeant at Law to Queen Elizabeth, afterwards one of the Justices of the Court of Common Pleas, among whom he had sat five years with singular integrity, equity and commendable prudence, And by Sarah his wife, only daughter and heir of Humphrey Baskervile, had had five sons and as many daughters. And married Alice his second wife, who survives him. He devoutly slept in Christ the 21st day of December in the year of our Redemption 1598. Roger Owen, his most afflicted son, hath, as a proof of his officious duty, and regard to the memory of this best of fathers, erected this monument. The souls of the righteous are in the hand of God."

Summary of the Will of Thomas Owen 1599

In his will made on made 09 Dec 1598 and proved on 28 Feb 1598/1599 he was recorded as “Thomas Owen of Condover in the Countie of Salope one of her Maties Justices of the Comon Plees”[2]. His will was that if he were to die in London then he was to be buried at Westminster and if he were to die in Salop then he was to be buried in the church at Condover.

He noted that he had been born in the parish of St Chad Shrewsbury and that he had long dwelt in the parish of St Michael Bassishaw in the City of London.

He made a number of bequests including to:

His sons Roger Owen (heir), Peter Owen and William Owen (he also mentioned his son Richard Owen)

His daughters Sarah and Mary Owen, both unmarried

His daughter Jane, wife of Bonham Norton, and their son William Norton his godson

His daughter Elizabeth, wife of Henrie Smith, and their son Thomas his godson

His daughter Margaret, wife of Richard Mytton, and their son Thomas his godson

His wife Alice, formerly the wife of William Elkyn and Henry Robinson

His brother Robert Owen

Sarah Hunt, formerly the wife of his brother Richard Owen, deceased

Elizabeth Sara and Martha, the daughters of his brothers

Richard Owen, the son of one of his brothers

His ‘brother’ Beniamyn Gonson and his wife

His ‘brother’ Thomas Duckett

His ‘brother’Thomas Edwardes and his wife

His cousin Thomas Owen Merchant Taylor.

His Executors were his cousin Edward Owen of Shrewsbury gent, his son in law Bonham Norton gent, his friend John Lutwich of Lincoln's Inn gent, and his son Roger Owen.

His Overseer was the Right honorable Sir Thomas Egerton, knight, Lord Keeper of the great Seal of England.

NB For a full transcript see Will of Thomas Owen.


  1. 1.0 1.1 Macleane D (1897) A History of Pembroke College, Oxford. Printed for the Oxford Historical Society, p90 [1].
  2. 2.0 2.1 Will of Thomas Owen, of Her Majety's Justice of the Common Pleas of Condover, Shropshire. 28 February 1599. PROB 11/93/181. National Archives.
  3. Visitation of Shropshire Taken in the Year 1623. Edited by Grazebrook G and Rylands JP 1889. Part II. The Publications of the Harleian Society Vol 29. Owen Pedigree pp383-388.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Miscellanea Genealogica et Heraldica. Second Series Vol II. 1888, p363-375. Abridged Pedigree of Owen of Llunllo and Bettws, Co. Montgomery : Tedsmore, Woodhouse, Condover, and Whiteley [now Kynaston], Co. Salop. London.
  5. Visitation of Shropshire Taken in the Year 1623. Edited by Grazebrook G and Rylands JP 1889. Part II. The Publications of the Harleian Society Vol 29. Oteley Pedigree p380-382.
  6. Visitation of Shropshire Taken in the Year 1623. Edited by Grazebrook G and Rylands JP 1889. Part I. Publications of the Harleian Society, Vol. 28. Ireland of Adbrighton Pedigree p269-272.
  7. Visitation of Shropshire Taken in the Year 1623. Edited by Grazebrook G and Rylands JP 1889. Part I. Publications of the Harleian Society, Vol. 28. Cole of Shrewsbury Pedigree p125-127.
  8. Will of Thomas Smythe of London. 29 Oct 1591. PROB 11/78/226. National Archives.
  9. Serjeant at Law. Wikipedia[2]
  10. Will of Alice Smythe, Widow of London. 11 May 1598. PROB 11/91/377. National Archives.
  11. Will of Steven Duckett of Pinhills, Wiltshire. 08 May 1591. PROB 11/77/365. National Archives.
  12. St Pancras Soper Lane, City of London. Register. Accessed via Ancestry.
  13. Will of Richarde Owen, Gentleman of Shrewsbury, Shropshire. 04 November 1597. PROB 11/90/419. National Archives.
  14. Foss E (1857) The Judges of England; with sketches of their lives, and miscellaneous notices connected with the Courts at Westminster, from the time of the Conquest. Vol. V 1485-1603. Published London.
  15. 15.0 15.1 Neale J P (1823) The History and Antiquities of the Abbey Church of St. Peter, Westminster. Vol. II, p246.
  16. Visitation of Shropshire Taken in the Year 1623. Edited by Grazebrook G and Rylands JP 1889. Part I. Publications of the Harleian Society, Vol. 28. Eyton Pedigree p180-182.
  17. St Michael Bassishaw, City of London. Register. Accessed via Ancestry.
  18. The Registers of St Mary Magdalen Milk Street 1558-1666 and St Michael Bassishaw London 1538-1625. Hughes Clarke A W. 1942. The Publications of the Harleian Society. Vol LXXII.
  19. Thomas Owen. Westminster Abbey website.
  • The Dictionary of National Biography, Volume 42, p. 455 By Sir Sidney Lee Free eBook available from Google Books.

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