James Owen of Penrhos

and his descendants

Jessie Owen (1867-1931)

Edward and Jane’s daughter Jessie Owen was born in 1867 [Birmingham 1867, 3rd qt]. In 1895 she married Edward Magrath [Solihull 1895, 1st qt], the only child of Robert Storer Magrath, a Scot, and Harriet Sanders (née Butts). More information about Edward's family can be found here. Edward Magrath was occupied in the manufacture of varnish, a lucrative but hazardous business in those days when heating and lighting depended on oil lamps and naked flames; there were major incidents of fires and even explosions. I am told that Edward made an assay into outfitting, doubtless advised by his father-in-law, but his son said that the established outfitters instigated rumours about the poor quality of this new upstart's stock so his attempt failed and he returned to his former occupation. In 1904 he was a 'varnish maker's manager' and Sam Rogers, who began working for colour manufacturer J.T. & G.F. Morley of Birmingham in 1901 and rose to be Works' Manager, wrote:

Towards the end of 1908 a new Director arrived, Mr Magrath, a well-known paint and varnish expert. He was a very skilled varnish and enamel maker with whom came many new ideas and formulas and this opened up many new sources of output and my time was very urgently needed in the Laboratory to keep pace with ever growing new enquiries and so Mr Magrath decided to take over the varnish making to release me. He then produced many classes of varnish quite new to me which became a great asset to the business giving me greater scope than ever before.

A few months after this in July 1909 an Agreement was entered with Postans the well know varnish makers of Lionel Street* to amalgamate. This was successfully carried through and all their staff were transferred to our works in Trevor Street and the firm became known as Postans & Morley Bros. Limited.

New Varnish making plant was soon installed which included preparing fire holes, a fume stack and Oil Boilers and very early in 1910 everything was working smoothly. Mr Magrath taking charge of varnish making and spending most of his time with the new staff and getting a thorough knowledge of their manufacture, while ... I now took control of the Works and Laboratory ....

It is by no means certain this 'Mr Magrath' was Edward - there are other possible candidates - but it appears likely that it was.