James Owen of Penrhos

and his descendants
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Nigeria & later life

In 1909 Hugh entered the Nigerian Civil Service and was Provincial Commissioner from 1925 until his retirement in 1931. His brother Gethin served with the Mounted Infantry of the West African Frontier Force in North Nigeria (1904-1910), mainly in Kano (map), which is where Hugh would have spent some time; he was definitely there in 1917. In Nigeria Hugh earned a reputation for being a fine sportsman and an excellent judge of a horse; he did much to promote horse racing in the region, owning two large stables. His racing colours were cerise. It was said that he had more big-race winners through his hands than any other man in West Africa. He almost certainly played polo at Kano Polo Club. When the Prince of Wales visited Nigeria Hugh showed him around and I am told that by the end the Prince had so enjoyed the 'liquid refreshments' that he was quite unable to make the anticipated presentations to Hugh and others! The The Campbell Collections of the University of KwaZulu-Natal in Durban contain many photos depicting scenes around Kano at the time Hugh was there (see a selection).

Morgan-Owen brothers, Repton Every one or two years Hugh returned to the UK on leave by sea and in the late 1920s, some years before his retirement, he bought a house in Repton, Derbyshire, called "Penbryn" (one source called it ‘Pere Bryle’) in which he installed his sister Gwen (something had to done about Gwen!). It was near the home of his brother Morgan. Hugh lived there from 1931 when he retired and returned to England. He became a Commissioner for Income Tax and Land Tax for Derbyshire and, in 1937, a magistrate on the local bench. He was chairman of Repton branch of the Conservative Association for about fifteen years. When George Bown, later Deputy Leader of the Labour Party, was standing as labour candidate for Belper, someone advised him to go and see Hugh to find out about Repton, which he did. They talked and drank whisky all afternoon and at the end Hugh told him that, as a Tory, he was delighted to have kept him from canvassing that day; they remained the best of friends. The 1939 Register indicates that in WWII Hugh was child billeting officer for Repton and nine villages in its vicinity. He was sharing "Penbryn", the family home in Repton, Derbyshire, with his sisters Gwen and Nesta. There were four residents whose records were restricted; they may well have been children evacuated from cities or large towns. One or two might have been servants; only one servant was named.

Hugh suffered from Malaria, a vestige of his time in Africa, and would shiver uncontrollably during attacks. He never married and died at his home on 6 March 1953. He left all his possessions to Gwen.