James Owen of Penrhos

and his descendants

Events at St Nicholas's

In 1884 Tomlins & Shudlow, Leicester, published Thomas's History of St. Nicholas' Church, Leicester. (On the flyleaf of the copy at the Record Office for Leicestershire and Rutland is written in Thomas's hand, This copy is presented to the Leicester Public Library by the author T.W. Owen.) St Nicholas is believed to be the most ancient place of worship in Leicester.

A later history of the church by E. Threapland Wakeford (1897) describes some of the construction work undertaken while Thomas was incumbent; in 1885 the vicarage house was completed, in 1888 an organ chamber was built (cost, £270) and in 1890 a memorial reredos (removed in 1975) was presented to the Church. This book also informs us that, Mr. Owen was very popular in the parish, and did much during his vicariate to stir up Church life. Yet another history of St. Nicholas's Church (1949) tells us that on his resignation in November 1892, Thomas presented three collection plates, dated 1892, to the church. It is not surprising that he chose such a gift since the St. Nicholas's Parish Magazine of 1890 commented that, the introduction of plates has prevented the sacrilege which was often committed when marbles, buttons, pieces of pencil lead, etc. were put in the offertory bags. This fact has taken away the feeling of grief which the vicar [Thomas] felt at such a profane act. I believe the north transept was built in 1889. It was intended to be part of a larger project involving a new chancel chapel and the transept has an eastern arch which remains bricked up. In 1892 the Mayor of Leicester and members of the Corporation paraded to St Nicholas Church for a service taken in part by Thomas. The offertory was in aid of the restoration of the tower; as Thomas commented that day, part of the south-east corner of the towerwhich was over 800 years old had recently collapsed. [Leicester Chronicle, etc., 4 June 1892]

Thomas's work in the community included membership of the School Board. He firmly believed that making education free would not improve attendance figures; his reaction ("I am glad") when early evidence appeared to prove him right upset colleagues [Leicester Chronicle, etc., 10 Sept. 1892]. He was also a 'House Visitor' at the Leicester Royal Infirmary. Thomas appeared on the platform in support of Mr F W Lowe, the Unionist candidate for the Harbourne Division of Leicester in 1892 [Ibid, 14 May 1892].

The living in 1891 was a vicarage, net yearly value £266, with residence, in the gift of the Bishop of Peterborough who in 1892 offered Thomas the living at St. Peter’s Parish Church, Empingham. In the final Leicester service he preached at the end of November 1892 "not trusting himself to say any formal words of farewell to the large congregation, [he] gave a discourse appropriate to the circumstances" [Leicester Chronicle, etc., 3 Dec. 1892].