Isambard Owen

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Sir (Herbert) Isambard Owen (28 December 1850 – 14 January 1927) was a British physician and university academic. He was the first Vice-Chancellor of the University of Bristol and a deputy Chancellor of the University of Wales.


Owen was born in Chepstow in Monmouthshire, south Wales. At the time his father, William Owen, later chief engineer of the Great Western Railway, was building the South Wales Railway under Isambard Kingdom Brunel, from whom Isambard Owen received his unusual name. He was educated at The King's School, Gloucester, Rossall School and Downing College, Cambridge, where he read Natural Sciences. After graduating he studied medicine at St George's Hospital, then returned to Cambridge to take his final MB and to study for his MD, which he received in 1882.[1][2]

Owen was a major figure in the creation of the University of Wales in 1891–1892 and was its Deputy Chancellor from its creation in 1894 until 1910. He received a knighthood from Edward VII in 1902.[3] He was Principal of Armstrong College, Newcastle (then a college of Durham University) 1904–09 and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Bristol 1909–21.

Owen was executor of the will of Prince Louis Lucien Bonaparte (1813–1891) and may have acted as medical advisor to the Prince, who lived in London and was a philologist with an interest in the Celtic languages including Welsh.[2]

Preceded by
C. Lloyd Morgan
Vice-Chancellor of the University of Bristol
Succeeded by
Professor Francis Francis (acting)


  1. ^ "Owen, Herbert Isambard (OWN868HI)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge. 
  2. ^ a b Sir Isambard Owen Papers, Archives Network Wales
  3. ^ "No. 27494". The London Gazette. 11 November 1902. p. 7165. 

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