OWEN, William (c.1540-80), of Oxford.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1558-1603, ed. P.W. Hasler, 1981
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Family and Education

b. c.1540, 2nd s. of George Owen (d.1558) of Godstow, Oxon. prob. by his 1st w. Lettice of Suff. educ. L. Inn Feb. 1557. m. (1) c.1557, Ursula, da. of Alexander Fettiplace of Swinbrook, Oxon., ?s.p.; (2) by May 1562, Anne, da. of John Rawley of Billesby, Northants., 2s. 3da.

Offices Held

Freeman, Oxford 1570.2


Owen’s father, receiver general of the duchy of Lancaster and physician to Henry VIII, Edward VI and Mary, acquired property in Berkshire and to the west of Oxford, including Godstow nunnery. He died in debt to the duchy, leaving his widow, the eldest son Richard and Owen himself to pay off what they could by instalments. Owen sold much of the Berkshire property. He leased Cumnor Place, once the house of the abbots of Abingdon, to Anthony Forster, steward to Sir Robert Dudley ‘Mrs. Owen’, probably Owen’s second wife, dined there with Amy Robsart just before her death in Sept. 1560. In 1561 Owen sold Cumnor Place to Forster.3

The corporation of Oxford made frequent use of Owen’s legal training and connexions in London, and four months before his election as burgess for Parliament on 14 Apr. 1572, granted him a lease of a tenement and garden on the south side of the east gate. It was probably William Owen rather than John Lewis Owen or Lewis Owen ap Meurig who served on Commons committees dealing with weights and measures (23 May 1572), the poor (11 Feb. 1576), excessive drinking (17 Feb.) and cloth (9 Mar.). In the account for the year ending in September 1573, he is recorded as receiving £2 ‘for his pains in the town’s business’. He accompanied the mayor on a visit to the Earl of Leicester and the high steward in January 1577, ‘to retain such learned counsel as they shall appoint’, and in May was one of the deputation sent to explain to the Privy Council the city’s refusal to take the annual oath to respect the privileges of the university. Fifty years before, Owen’s father had been in the university camp in similar disputes. Their descendants were freemen of the city.4

Owen was dead by 23 Nov. 1580, when a new election writ was issued. In August 1582 letters of administration were granted to a creditor. There is no indication that Owen shared his elder brother’s Catholicism.5

Ref Volumes: 1558-1603

Author: Alan Harding


  • 1. Did not serve for the full duration of the Parliament.
  • 2. C142/116/5; Vis. Oxon. (Harl. Soc. v), 127; CPR, 1557-8, p. 234; 1560-3, p. 389; Oxford Recs. 331; DNB (Owen, George).
  • 3. DL 41/34/2, f. 70; CPR, 1558-60, p. 81; 1560-3, p. 389; VCH Berks. iv. 400; DNB (Robert Dudley); Foster, Al. Ox. i. 1102; see FORSTER, Anthony.
  • 4. CPR, 1558-60, p. 234; Oxford Recs. 331, 339, 341, 350, 357, 388; H. E. Salter, Oxford Council Acts (Oxford Hist. Soc. lxxxvii), 69, 253; CJ, i. 97, 105, 106, 113.
  • 5. C219/283/35-6; PCC admon. act bk. 1582, f. 44; A. Davidson, ‘Catholicism in Oxon. 1580-1640 (Bristol Univ. PhD thesis 1970), 116-24.