John Owen (Royalist)

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John Owen, from A Tour in Wales by Thomas Pennant.

Sir John Owen of Clenennau (1600–1666) was a Welsh Royalist officer during the English Civil War, who was described as "a plain gentleman who would always obey the orders of the King".[1] He was a wealthy landowner in Carnarvonshire, having inherited large estates through both his parents (John Owen snr and Elin Maurice.) Married to Janet Vaughan of Corsygedol Merionenthshire, he was appointed High Sheriff of Carnarvonshire in 1631, and Merionethshire the following year.[2]

At the beginning of the Civil War he was made commander of the Royalist foot regiment in N.W.Wales and served with distinction, being wounded in battle at Bristol, and becoming Governor of Reading in 1643.[3]

Owen was knighted in 1644, and made Governor of Conwy in the winter of that year. During his tenure had many disputes with Archbishop Williams who resided at the castle. In May 1644, Owen seized the castle and continued to hold it until it was eventually stormed by the Parliamentarians under the command of Thomas Mytton, who was acting on information received from Williams. He held on to the castle, even though Charles I had given him permission to surrender, but eventually capitulated to Mytton in 1646.[4] In the immediate aftermath of the war he retired to his estates, and was fined heavily for his part in the war, but in 1648, still loyal to the King, he mustered a group of men together and plotted rebellion in North Wales. He and his men attacked Carnarvon, and wounded and kidnapped the High Sheriff William Lloyd, who later died of his wounds.[5] He was eventually captured at Y Dalar Hir.[6] He was taken under guard by Thomas Mytton to Denbigh Castle,fellow sympathisers tried to effect his escape to no avail,[7] so he was taken to London and lodged at Windsor Castle.

He was charged with High Treason, and despite his plea that he had surrendered to quarter was convicted and sentenced to beheading, along with fellow Royalist rebels Lords Goring, Holland, Cambridge, and Capel.[8] He was granted a reprieve on his sentence by Henry Ireton, Cromwell's son in law,and was allowed to return home. Despite all this he remained a true Royalist, and was detained for preventative purposes in both 1655 and 1658 when further rebellions were anticipated by the Protectorate.He attempted unsuccessfully to raise North Wales in concert with Sir George Booth in 1659, and his estates were sequestered once more. He was rewarded for his loyalty by Charles II in 1661, when he was made Vice Admiral for North Wales, but did not distinguish himself further, dying quietly at home in 1666, and was buried at Penmorfa Church.

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Clarendon. History of the Rebellion Book XI. 
  2. ^ National Library of Wales, Clenennau Letters
  3. ^ Hutton, Ronald (2004–2013). Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford University Press. 
  4. ^ Hutton, Ronald (2009). The Royalist War Effort 1642-1646. Routledge. 
  5. ^ Taylor, Captain (1648). A Narrative Concerning The Late Success Obtained By The Parliament Forces in Carnarvanshire in North Wales. London. 
  6. ^ Gaunt, Peter (1991). A Nation Under Siege. The Civil War In Wales 1642-1648. HMSO. 
  7. ^ Goring, George (1648). Denbigh Castle Suprized For The King. 
  8. ^ Cobbett. State Trials For High Treason Volume IV. 

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