AWEN (OWEN), Lawrence (by 1516-60/62), of London and Southwark, Surr.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1509-1558, ed. S.T. Bindoff, 1982
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Mar. 1553

Family and Education

b. by 1516. ?m. Alice.1

Offices Held

Clerk of the bridge works, London 16 Feb. 1537-25 Mar. 1551.2


The identity of the ‘Lawrence Owen of London, gentleman’, returned with George Rithe for Bramber to the Parliament of March 1553, has not been easy to establish. His Membership for a Sussex borough suggests that he was a descendant of Sir David Owen, and thus a kinsman of Jane, Duchess of Northumberland, whose husband caused the Parliament to be summoned, but no Lawrence appears in the pedigrees of the Owen family. Only two other references to a man of this name have been traced, and both are associated with London: the will of Lawrence Owen ‘clerk of the Bridgehouse’ was proved in 1562 and an unreliable list of members of the Scriveners’ Company for 1566 includes an apparent namesake. The 16th-century index to wills proved in the prerogative court of Canterbury gives the clerk the alias Awen and a domicile in Southwark. A Lawrence Awen sued out a general pardon on 25 Sept. 1554, and his description on that occasion as ‘citizen and scrivener of London, otherwise of the borough of Southwark, gentleman, otherwise clerk of the works for London bridge’ virtually settles the matter.3

Awen’s Membership was presumably the work of the sheriff Sir Anthony Browne, with whom as owner of the ex-priory of St. Mary Overey in Southwark Awen had had official dealings: he was also well known to Browne’s grandfather Sir John Gage, who was the King’s steward for Southwark. Browne joined Awen in the House as the Member for Petersfield where he was re-elected to the following Parliament with George Rithe. To judge from the preamble to his will Awen shared Rithe’s Protestantism and this perhaps explains why he did not reappear in Parliament under Mary.4

Awen was perhaps of northern origin as a gentle family called Aune or Awne can be traced in Lancashire and Yorkshire. He seems to have begun his career in the service of Chancellor Audley on whose recommendation to the City in 1537 he was made clerk of the bridgeworks. After the death of his patron he was admitted to the Scriveners’ Company by redemption on 18 Sept. 1544. He was dismissed as clerk in 1551 when Sir Martin Bowes paid him £50 owed in wages. Apart from his profession little else has come to light about Awen, although he perhaps held office in the Scriveners’ Company. By his will made on 15 Dec. 1560 he left his bedstead with its trappings to John Darrington of Darrington in Cheshire, the poor man ‘without the gates’ 40s., and his maid Alice a quarter-year’s wages, plates and kitchen utensils. After several other small bequests he named as residuary legatee and sole executor John Plain who proved the will on 11 Feb. 1562. He may have married Alice before his death as in 1561 an Alice Owen widow of St. Botolph’s, Bishopsgate, received a licence to marry one Joseph Wilson.5

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: A. D.K. Hawkyard


  • 1. Date of birth estimated from first reference.
  • 2. City of London RO, Guildhall, rep. 9, f. 240v; bridgewardens’ accts. 1536-51 passim.
  • 3. C219/20/132; Vis. Beds. (Harl. Soc. xix), 187-8; PCC 4 Streat; Scriveners’ Co. Common Ppr. (London Rec. Soc. iv), 30; CPR, 1554-5, p. 349.
  • 4. City of London RO, bridgewardens’ accts. 1536-51 passim.
  • 5. LP Hen. VIII, vii, xii; City of London RO, bridgewardens’ accts. 1536-51 passim; rep. 9, f. 240v; II, f. 100; PCC 4 Streat; Mar. Lic. London (Harl. Soc. XXV), 22.