James Owen of Penrhos

and his descendants

Family life & deaths

In those days, shops such as Edward's stayed open until late and displaying goods in shop doorways had become a common practice but this had resulted in an increase in petty theft. Such a theft from Edward's shop on 9 December 1876 led to an interesting admonishment for Edward. The prosecution of the thief who stole 36 yards of shirting, value 30s (£1.50) was reported in the Birmingham Daily Post, 12 Dec 1876; the report was headed, "INDUCEMENT TO DISHONESTY". The accused had been drinking heavily since receiving his wages the evening before and at about 11.30 on Saturday night had stolen the roll of material from the doorway of Edward's shop at 78 Coleshill Street. Incidentally, to compound his offence, the accused had then implicated the witness who had reported the theft, who was therefore also charged but was subsequently discharged on the testomony of another witness. Edward may therefore have been surprised when the magistrate turned his attack on him for providing temptation for the thief. Before passing sentence of six weeks in gaol with hard labour, the magistrate further criticised Edward: "If you expose your goods in this way at half-past eleven o'clock at night, you do not deserve the protection of the police."

Birmingham Concert Hall In the 1881 census Edward James Owen was an outfitter and hosier and the family lived at 78 Coleshill Street (map), the road in which the Birmingham Concert Hall was then located and which has survived the massive redevelopment of the city. Holder’s Hotel & Concert Hall (right), 88–90 Coleshill Street, opened in 1846 by Henry Holder owner of the Rodeney Inn at No 87, became in 1897 ‘The Gaiety Theatre of Varieties’.

I believe Jane died in 1895 aged 54 [Aston 1895, 2nd qt]. In 1901 Edward was a widower living at “Maenol”, Tennyson Road, Small Heath, Birmingham, a road that runs along the south east boundary of Smallheath Park. His niece Effie Owen, daughter of Elisha, the only other brother to go into business, was his resident housekeeper. She may have served an apprenticeship with Edward; she herself later owned a clothes shop in Bond Street, London.

It was at “Maenol” that Edward James Owen died on 5 November 1905, aged 64 [Aston 1905, 4th qt]. According to probate records Edward, ‘of 77 and 78 Coleshill, of 404 and 406 Coventry Road and of “Maenol”, Tennyson Road, Small Heath’, was a wealthy man, his effects valued at £3 944 9s 10d. Probate was granted to his son Bernard on 19 October 1906.