James Owen of Penrhos

and his descendants

Norman Wilding Owen (1883 - c1961)

(See family photo)

Norman Wilding Owen was born in 1883 [Ch. Stretton 1883, 3rd qt]. In 1904 he was apprenticed at Cavendish House, Cheltenham and, with several other apprentice drapers and servants he lodged with Frank Davey, a Woolen Merchant; several draper’s assistants lived next door. Like his sister Effie he went to London and between 1904 and 1906 he was employed by Messrs. Jay of Oxford Street at a salary of 30 shillings per week plus commission. He was then living at 1, Upper Vernon Street, Lloyds Square, London but after about a year moved to 6a Porchester Terrace, Bayswater. Between 1906 and 1908 he was earning a similar salary working for Messrs. Redmayne of Bond Street and living in a furnished room, costing seven shillings a week, at 6 Stanhope Street, Mayfair. In 1909, when Norman was twenty-six, he was a 'costume designer' employed by Messrs. Peter Robinson of Regent Street. He appears to have been leading a hand-to-mouth existence and had some very minor debts.

All these details of his life and of his employment were revealed in bankruptcy proceedings in 1920, not due to a failing business venture - that would happen later - but the result of a rash decision to guarantee a note for £100 for a Godfrey Bulwer Marsh. When the time came for settlement, Mr. Marsh could not pay. The creditors took Norman to court though, as Norman admitted, he would never have been able to pay that amount; he had no tangible assets and his salary at that time was £100 per annum plus commission, as it had been for several years.

His situation was made worse by ill health; he had been ill and unable to work for two months. He claimed he was in hospital for the first hearing, when judgement was made against him. The trial revealed that he had been using the name 'Norman Wilding Morgan Owen' in the first half of 1909. At least ten years elapsed before he was discharged but in 1911 he was boarding in Mayfair and working as a freelance 'Designer Ladies' Costumes'.

Subsequently, Norman lived, for a long time, in Marylebone, London, first in Upper George Street (1920s) and then in a multi-occupancy building in Dorset Square (1930s). It is not clear whether he or his sister Effie set up the fashion business "Nigel Ltd" of 41 New Bond Street but he was chairman in 1932, when the business went bankrupt (London Gazette, 26 July 1932). This happened a month after Elisha's death and three years after Effie's. Effie had bequeathed him the money I have in Nigel Ltd. ... to go towards his overdraft and her address on the will was 41 New Bond Street. Incidentall, the Secretary of the company in 1932 was listed as O.W. Owen (London Gazette, 12 July 1932), whoever he was. >