Meet the Owens
A blog post written by Archivist, Sara Downs….
Last year, my colleague, Ivar Romo, and I were fortunate to be able to catalogue the Owen family records. The collection when deposited came with funding from the owners to catalogue the collection. The Owen family are well known internationally through their company Rubery Owen. Rubery Owen is famous for its involvement in many groundbreaking projects such as the famous BRM racing team, winning the F1 Championship in 1962, and the development of Campbell’s Bluebird.
The collection contains the wills, probate and subsequent estate administration of Samuel Smith and members of his wife’s family – the Owens. Alderman Samuel Smith, a successful timber merchant who resided in Abbey Foregate, died in 1879 without issue from his long marriage to Margaret Owen. He had made up for this in his support for his nephews, or rather his wife’s, the sons of Samuel Owen, a Shrewsbury businessman who had predeceased Smith by a decade.
Samuel Smith applied his profits in setting them up in business, Peter Owen as a butcher in Shrewsbury and Alfred Owen as an ironmonger in Wrexham; the favourite, Samuel Hubert was educated for the priesthood and his uncle purchased a living for him near Stoke on Trent.
This support continued after Samuel Smith’s death. He bequeathed money and property to Samuel Hubert and property in Shrewsbury to Alfred, who was appointed principal executor of the will. Later generations of Samuel Smith’s nephews were to benefit from his generosity through the will of Samuel Hubert Owen (1891) and the administrative efforts of Alfred Owen.
After inheriting from Samuel Hubert, Alfred Owen put his money to good use. He invested in stocks and shares, purchased properties in Wrexham to add to his Shrewsbury portfolio and bankrolled many of the mortgages of properties in the Wrexham area. His considerable estate is listed within the catalogue and there is a wealth of information for people doing house history on the properties he owned. When he died in 1912, he left a substantial trust that was run by his executors Mr Corser, solicitor, of Swan Hill, Shrewsbury and his son, Alfred Ernest Owen. In 1927, his wife, Dora Eyland Owen died but the trust continued until 1931. After the deaths of Alfred Ernest and Mr Corser, the trust was eventually wound up and the inheritance divided.
Interestingly, after Alfred’s death in 1915, an agreement was drawn up between his four children to equalize the benefits under their father’s will and codicils after the death of their mother Dora Eyland Owen. Alfred Ernest had already received funding to help start his business Rubery Owen and the eldest sister Helen had received the advowson of Bucknall-cum-Bagnall where her husband was rector. Gone were the days where the eldest son inherited all and the sisters had a marriage portion. From correspondence between the sisters and Mr Corser and later Mr Partridge, the younger sisters Mabel and Maria led full lives after the death of their mother, going on motoring holidays in the United Kingdom and through Europe. They also retained the family home at Wood Hey in Wrexham. Their probate papers are with the collection as they appointed their nephew Alfred Beech Owen their executor and he continued the administration of their estate after their deaths.
The collection also contains records about other family members including probate records of Dora Eyland Owen’s family and records relating of the unfortunate death of Harry Owen.
The complete catalogue is available here: Owen catalogue or by searching our website for X8902.