OWEN, Hugh, of Cae'rberllan, Llanfihangel y pennant, Merion.
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Family and Education
2nd s. of Lewis Owen by Margaret, da. of Robert Puleston of Hafod y wern, nr. Wrexham, Denb. and of Gresford, Denb.; bro. of John Lewis Owen. educ. Christ Church, Oxf. 1550, BA 1553; ?L. Inn 1556. m. Catherine, da. of John ap Hugh ap Ieuan of Mathafarn, Llanwrin, Mont., 4s. 2da.
J.p. Merion. from c.1569, escheator 1570-1, 1574-5.
Owen’s father, the baron of the Caernarvon Exchequer who was slain by bandits in the course of his duties in 1555, came of ancient and distinguished local stock, represented the shire on a number of occasions, and accumulated a sufficient estate (partly from the lands of the dissolved abbey of Cymmer) to provide for eight sons, several of whom founded families of local eminence. Hugh’s second cousin Robert Puleston, who belonged to a family with three centuries of influence in three shires, went with him, as Member for Denbighshire, to the Parliament of 1571. His sister Elizabeth married into the rising Merioneth Nanneys, and his eldest son John into the Prices of Plas Iolyn, Denbighshire and Rhiwlas, Merioneth, firmly established through the services of its founder to Henry VII at Bosworth and the consequent favours of Wolsey and Cromwell. Rowland Pugh, who represented Montgomery Boroughs in the Parliament of 1572, was his wife’s relative.
Owen himself, as a younger son, was trained to the law, and practised at Ludlow, as well as arbitrating from time to time in the many disputes between his neighbours. A court connexion, probably Sir Robert Dudley, afterwards Earl of Leicester, gained him the nomination at Bossiney. There was a contest for the Merioneth seat in 1571 between Owen and John Salesbury of RÃ»g, the deciding factor being the support of Owen’s relative Ellis Price. No record has been found of any activity in Parliament on Owen’s part.1
The Salesburys were at this time opposing the Earl of Leicester in Merioneth under the powers granted him for searching out encroachments into the forest of Snowdon, an opposition under cover of which recusants and partisans of the Queen of Scots were liable to shelter. In 1574 one of the latter claimed Hugh Owen ‘and all his brethren’ as sympathizers, despite the declaration of Hugh and his elder brother John Lewis Owen as justices, only five years earlier, of loyalty to the Act of Uniformity. In November 1577 Hugh was summoned with five Caernarvonshire gentlemen (some of them conspicuous in their opposition to Leicester) to appear before the Privy Council; the five were committed to the Fleet, but Owen appears to have cleared himself after interrogation.2
Owen’s estate lay some eight miles south-east of the family seat, and in another commote, but in 1568 he extended it northwards by leasing over 600 acres of crown land (nearly a third of them old Cymmer lands). It was, however, largely ‘void barren ground’ awaiting development. At the 1570 musters he was one of ten Merioneth gentry assessed at the standard ‘one light horseman furnished’, and by the end of the reign he was one of the thirteen £3 subsidy men of his commote, with only one rated higher. Though less litigious than his elder brother, he had his share of territorial disputes. He joined with a number of the principal gentry of Merioneth and Caernarvonshire to resist the claims of the Anwyl family of Llanfrothen (in the north of the county) to certain sheepwalks; and a more violent dispute with his relative by marriage Richard Nanney of Cefndeuddwr led to a commission from Ludlow and a Star Chamber action in 1601, involving a wide section of Merioneth society.3
As deputy sheriff in the next reign he initiated another Star Chamber action against three defendants, alleged to have attempted a forcible rescue of a debtor from arrest. He was dead before the end of James I’s reign, his elegy being sung by one of the leading contemporary bards of Gwynedd.4
Ref Volumes: 1558-1603
- 1. Griffith, Peds. 204, 274, 275, 363; T. P. Ellis, Dolgelly and Llanelltyd, 85; Lloyd, Powys Fadog, vi. 37-8; Add. 14874, no. 131; UCNW Nannau, 94, 96, 170; and see MERIONETH.
- 2. P. H. Williams, Council in the Marches of Wales, 237-9; EHR, lix. 353; Lansd. 27, ff. 187-206; 737, f. 174; Cath. Rec. Soc. xiii. 110; SP12/66/19; APC, x. 99, 122, 124; Cal. Wynn Pprs. pp. 8-9; Salisbury Corresp. ed. Smith (Univ. Wales Bd. of Celtic Studies, Hist. and Law ser. xiv), 6-7.
- 3. Augmentations, ed. Lewis and Davies (Univ. Wales Bd. of Celtic Studies, Hist. and Law ser. xiii), 437; Star Chamber, ed. Edwards (same ser. i), 91; Exchequer, ed. E. G. Jones (same ser. iv), 239; Arch. Camb. (ser. 4), x. 125; E179/222/325-7.
- 4. Flenley, Cal. Reg. Council, Marches of Wales, 74; Star Chamber, ed. Edwards, 186; Add. 14874, no. 131; Griffith, 274.