OWEN, Roger (1573-1617), of Condover, Salop.
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Family and Education
b. 1573, 1st s. of Thomas Owen of Condover by his 1st w. Sarah, da. of Humphrey Baskerville. educ. Shrewsbury 1583; Christ Church, Oxf. B.A. 1592; L. Inn 1589, called 1597. m. Ursula, da. of William Elkin, alderman of London, 2da. suc. fa. 1598. Kntd. 1604.
J.p.q. Salop by 1601-14, sheriff 1603-4; member, council in the marches of Wales 1602-7; bencher, L. Inn 1611, treasurer 1612-13.
Owen’s father procured his return to Parliament and built Condover Hall for him. In Shropshire Owen enjoyed a reputation for ‘all manner of learning, care of the good of the commonwealth, for composing of controversies, buying peace with his own purse, maintaining of amity, and love to his neighbours’. Camden considered him to be ‘worthy of so excellent a lather’, but he was the lesser man. His appointment as sheriff was challenged on the grounds that he was partial to the Vernon family, and his factiousness led to his dismissal from the council in the marches of Wales.2
Returned for the county after coming into his estate, Owen took an active part in the proceedings of the 1601 Parliament, and narrowly missed landing himself in deep trouble on account of his speeches, which were not always favourably received. He spoke against the pluralities bill on 16 Nov., and on 27 Nov. answered allegations that a privilege case concerning an MP’s servant had not been properly looked into. The breach of privilege had been committed in Shrewsbury and the House had ordered the serjeant-at-arms to go to Shrewsbury to fetch the culprits back to London.
May it please you, Mr. Speaker, myself being chosen for the shire, I think it my part to speak something, seeing the burgesses for the town neglect their duties, in not speaking. True it is that such order was given by the House; but Mr. Morrice and some others being willing to let me have the examination of the matter, they came before me. And upon examination (a wise examination no doubt, said Mr. Secretary Cecil), I found he was no menial servant, but only a servant that brought him part of the way and was to go no further with him towards the Parliament: whereupon I think, the serjeant having some notice, stayed.
Owen spoke against the bill concerning church attendance on 2 Dec. objecting on the grounds that it would overburden the justices of the peace who were already ‘laden with a number of penal statutes’ and ‘therefore for my part away with the bill’. This infuriated the Privy Councillors in the House, still smarting from Glascock’s speeches the previous day. Sir George Moore referred to ‘the corruption of his heart’ and Sir Francis Knollys wondered ‘that any voice durst be so bold or desperate to cry "Away with this Bill".' Owen was significantly appointed to the committee that day, but he spoke again on 5 Dec., refusing to modify his views:
... he was of the same opinion he before had been of, for amendment of the said bill ... and so he proceeded, and made a brief repitition with some arguments for confirmation of the same speech he first made.
At this point Humphrey Winch stepped in with a well-timed testimonial for Owen:
I much marvel that the gentleman which last spake would speak against this bill, allowing so well the matter. I know him well, and his bringing up and both sufficiency and zeal which I very well know, and am well persuaded of.
Owen's last speech in this Parliament, 12 Dec., requested a proviso to exempt Shropshire from contributing to the relief for maimed soliders, owing to 'the poor estate' of the country. 'But it was replied to him that he went about to deck up his particular cabin when the ship was on fire'. He was named to a committee on a private bill on 24 Nov., and as knight for Shropshire was appointed to the main business committee (3 Nov.) and the monopolies committee (23 Nov.).
Owen took a prominent part in the Parliaments of James I's reign. He died intestate in London 29 May 1617 and was buried at Condover.3