James Owen of Penrhos

and his descendants

Vincent's nature & death

Vincent was a deep thinker who felt passionately about things; he had strong views, expressed himself forcefully and encouraged his children to think about important issues in life. Like many of the so-called working class of his era Vincent became a member of the Communist Party of Great Britain which was formed in 1920, in the wake of the 1917 Russian Revolution; he once took his son to one of its open-air meetings. Vincent was a friend of Harry Pollitt (1890-1960), the head of the trade union department of the party and the General Secretary of the party for more than 20 years. The organisation attracted many left-wing reformists of the age including, for a while, Sylvia Pankhurst. It also attracted the working classes and the trade unionists and it thrived in the post-war era, perhaps as a reaction to fascism as well as to poverty, unemployment and poor working conditions. In view of Vincent’s rejection of Catholicism, it is somewhat ironic that he then espoused communism, which many claim shares similar principals to Catholicism.

Vincent was not easy to live with; he could get very angry and hostile. He had a vicious temper and quite often treated Doreen badly but she was a cheerful, loving, sweet-natured, resilient person. She just got on with things and was always singing around the house. Vincent regretted hurting Doreen in his poem, "Doreen" (as with much of his poetry, its value lies in what it reveals about him). Apart from his poetry and prose, his pleasures included listening to classical music on Radio 3, woodwork and working on his allotment behind Tranmere Rovers football ground. His children do not know what sparked Vincent’s love of classical music but he became very knowledgeable on the subject; when he was a P.O.W. he wrote to Doreen asking her to organise piano lessons for their son.

Sadly, Vincent was not able to enjoy his retirement for long. He was diagnosed with lung cancer and he died within two years at the age of seventy [Birkenhead 1977, 2nd qt]. He was a smoker but also his contact with chemicals at work or his work in the copper mine - workers in copper mining have an increased chance of developing lung cancer - may have been factors. Just before his death he imagined his late brother Michael Francis ('Frank') visited him; we do not know what happened to Frank but the story goes that he fell from a ship somewhere off the Canadian coast. Vincent was buried in Landican Cemetery. He had been troubled by bed-sores in hospital and one of his daughters decided to nurse him at home. It led to a strange relationship, part daughter and part detached medical carer, and it prompted her to write a very evocative and powerful account, "Sympathy".