AB OWEN, Lewis (by 1522-55), of Plas-yn-dre, Dolgellau, Merion.
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Family and Education
J.p.q. Merion. 1543-d.; sheriff 1545-6, 1554-d.; v.-chamberlain of N. Wales and baron of the exchequer at Caernarvon temp Henry VIII-d.; usher, the chamber by 1550; commr. relief, Merion. 1550, goods of churches and fraternities 1553; custos rot. by 1553-d.3
Lewis ab Owen came of an old Welsh family boasting a pedigree back to Gwrgan ab Ithel, prince of Powis. Nothing has been discovered about his early life but he was presumably equipped by some legal training for his appointment before the death of Henry VIII as vice-chamberlain of North Wales and a baron of the exchequer at Caernarvon, after which he was known as Baron Owen. With the Union he emerged as one of the leaders of Merionethshire society and this ascendancy was reflected in his return as knight of the shire to four out of the five Parliaments summoned between 1547 and 1554, although at three of the elections concerned the sheriff was his ally Richard Mytton. His own shrievalty prevented him from sitting in the Parliament of 1555: if he had done so his life might have been prolonged.4
Owen made some acquisitions of land in the reign of Edward VI, in 1550 securing a 21-year lease of tenements at Nannau, Wenarth, the fishing rights at Barmouth, and other lands in the commote of Talybont at a yearly rent of £2 8s.5d.; he also leased some of the demesne lands of Llanegryn, also in Talybont commote, including the grist mill, which was in ruin and which he promised to rebuild. In 1552 he took a 21-year lease of the township of Dolgellau and in the following year obtained some former monastic property at Talyllyn: it was with Richard Nannau of Nannau that he joint-leased three tenements at Dolgellau, three at Nannau and some mountain land at Trawsfynydd, whereas his own and the Nannau family were later to be at odds there.5
It was during his shrievalty in 1554-5 that Owen and John Wynn ap Meredydd set themselves to put down the red-haired brigands of Mawddwy and succeeded in executing about 80 of them. The survivors vowed revenge on Owen, and their chance came when he had to go into Montgomeryshire for the assizes and to discuss with Richard Mytton a marriage between his heir John and Mytton’s daughter. It was on the return journey ‘about All Hallowtide’ 1555 that he was ambushed and murdered.6