James Owen of Penrhos

and his descendants
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James Darwin Owen (1881 - 1970)

'Frankwell', Llanidloes James and Mary Owen's youngest child, James Darwin Owen, was born in February 1881. Known as Jim, he seems to have spent his entire life in Llanidloes. In 1901, like his brother Maurice, he was a surveyor’s clerk and living with his mother in High Street Llanidloes. He may have been the James D. Owen who was general secretary of the Llanidloes District Agricultural Society [Towyn-on-sea & Meirioneth County Times, 11 May 1905] though this seems unlikely. He married Sarah Elizabeth Matthews [Newtown 1905, 3rd qt], daughter of Ezekiel and Jane Matthews and about the same age as Jim [b Newtown 1881, 2nd qt]. Ezekiel, an inn-keeper, died in 1886 leaving Jane to run the Bear’s Head Inn in Long Bridge Street. Jane subsequently lived with her second husband, Hugh Davies, at ‘Frankwell’ (right), an interesting seventeenth century house in Llanidloes near the Long Bridge, off Westgate Street and Sarah inherited ‘Frankwell’, which she and Jim later divided into two properties.

Sarah and Jim had five children, four of whom, in adulthood, died of tuberculosis: Mary Jane Owen (11 November 1906 – 21 October 1938), James Ezechial Matthew Owen (1908 - 17 October 1931, aged 23), Sarah Elizabeth Owen (1911 – 1931) and Florence Gwendoline Owen, a qualified teacher, (1915 – 1938). In Montgomeryshire there were 59 reported deaths from Pulmonary TB in 1931 and 45 in 1938, the latter going against a steady decline in such deaths in the county.

In 1910 the license of the "Unicorn" public house, Long Bridge-street, was transferred to Jim [Montgomeryshire Express, etc., 4 Oct 1910]. In 1911 he and his family were living there and Sarah was assisting in running the business. Jim was quite a heavy drinker and it is said that he squandered all the family fortune; he perhaps could not come to terms with the loss in adulthood of four of his five children. In later life he was a librarian. He was 61 when he died [Newtown 1942, 4th qt]. Sarah died six years later, aged 66 [Newtown 1948 2nd qt]. There are no living descendants and the family is buried in Dolhafren Cemetery, Llanidloes.

The fifth of Jim’s children, John Oswald Matthew Owen, was born in the winter of 1910 [Newtown 1910, 1st qt]. He was a painter and decorator and lived for many years at ‘Frankwell’, which he eventually sold to the Bennett family though he continued to live there. I am told John was very quiet and 'a lovely chap', that he never married and that no relatives attended his funeral. In The Times, 8 July 1981 the Treasury Solicitor sought any kin of "JOHN OSWALD MATTHEWS OWEN otherwise JOHN OSWALD OWEN late of 2 Frankwell Llanidloes, Powys" who "died at Aberystwyth, Dyfed, on 24th February 1980 (Estate about £8,300)".