James Owen of Penrhos

and his descendants

Bill & Elizabeth's last years

Elsie seems to have managed very well to combine motherhood with the life of a politician’s wife, particularly difficult when the constituency is in the north of Scotland. My mother, Elaine (née Owen), told me how much Elsie enjoyed the rural life, how very down to earth she was and how kind she had been to her – Elaine had often visited ‘Glyn’ as she grew up. My mother also noted, with a smile, that she became ‘Elizabeth’ rather than ‘Elsie’ after her husband’s knighthood; her son recalled that she reverted to ‘Elizabeth’ in her later years. The last time Elaine saw Elsie was when Elsie and Bill invited my parents to the Caledonian Club in the late 1960s (Bill was also a member of the Royal Clyde Yacht Club) and, on their arrival Elsie was startled by the similarity between Elaine and their late aunt, Edith Owen. Their son described his mother as a kindly soul with a determined streak in some respects; her greatest failing was her avoidance of confrontation, which caused her to overindulge her daughter Betty. With Bill away from home so much, a mutual dependence between Elise and Betty became almost inevitable. These two factors were in the long-term possibly detrimental to them both. Elsie, for example, in later life, seldom went anywhere because Betty would run all the errands.

Both Elsie and Bill died at the family home near Insch, Aberdeenshire, Elsie on 30 July 1977 and Bill on 17 December 1980. There is a photograph (1970) of Bill in the National Portrait Gallery.