OWNER, Edward (1575-1650), of Great Yarmouth, Norf.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1604-1629, ed. Andrew Thrush and John P. Ferris, 2010
Available from Cambridge University Press



1640 (Apr.)
1640 (Nov.)

Family and Education

bap. 16 Oct. 1575, 2nd s. of Ralph Owner, merchant, of Gt. Yarmouth and Grace. m. 13 Nov. 1598, Elizabeth (d. 1672), da. of Hisea Harrison of Gt. Yarmouth, 1da. bur. 15 Aug. 1650.1

Offices Held

Freeman, Gt. Yarmouth 1597,2 chamberlain 1609-11,3 auditor 1612-15, 1631,4 member of the Forty-Eight, 1606-8,5 common cllr. 1608-14,6 alderman 1614-d.,7 custos Lazarhouse 1615-at least 1622,8 bailiff 1616-17, 1625-6, 1634-5, 1646-7;9 j.p. Gt. Yarmouth 1616-d.;10 commr. subsidy 1621, 1624,11 Forced Loan 1626,12 piracy, Norf. 1630;13 coroner, Gt. Yarmouth 1631, pres. artillery corp. 1636; commr. New Model ordinance, Norf. 1645, assessment 1645-d., Gt. Yarmouth 1647-8, militia, Norf. 1648.14

Commr. excise on herring 1644.15


A wealthy merchant of Great Yarmouth, Owner trod the familiar path through minor offices, including that of borough bailiff, before finally sitting at Westminster. He owned a shop near the market-place from which he participated in the all-important herring trade, and also shipped rye, cloth, beer, rape oil and other goods. Upon becoming an alderman in 1614 he was entrusted with the important task of organizing Yarmouth’s annual licence to export herrings in strangers’ ships.16 Five years later he was chosen to ride to Cambridge to procure another preacher for the town.17

Owner was elected to Parliament in December 1620.18 Although unmentioned in its records, he and his fellow burgess, Benjamin Cooper, may have introduced a bill to drain the fens, as the corporation received a letter from Owner on 6 Mar. ‘concerning their further proceeding in the project touching the marshes and levels’. The assembly decided to leave the matter to the determination of its two Members.19 The bill was finally rejected by the Commons at the second reading on 7 May because of problems over common ownership.20 In late September 1621 Owner returned to London to represent Yarmouth before the commission for the decay of trade.21 He was back in Yarmouth on 15 Nov., and is not known to have returned when Parliament reassembled five days later.22 Owner was elected to his second Parliament in 1625, but as in 1621 he made no impression on its records. He certainly attended the Commons, as he reported to the corporation that, among other matters of note, the Sabbath bill had been enacted.23

In 1633 Owner served on the haven repair committee.24 Two years later, during the annual Michaelmas herring fair, he was involved in a dispute with the bailiffs of the Cinque Ports, who described him as ‘a man of turbulent spirit’. Owner refused them entry to the court which presided over the fair by ‘setting his foot across the entrance and holding his hand on the end of the bar’. When the bailiffs demanded entry, Owner is said to have replied, ‘with much heat and scornful language’, that ‘the same question had cost men’s lives heretofore’. Although Owner escaped punishment, the earl of Arundel, to whom the bailiffs complained, upheld the rights of the Cinque Ports’ representatives to take their places on the court bench.25

Elected to the Short and the Long parliaments, Owner supported the parliamentarian cause during the First Civil War, took the oath of loyalty to the 3rd earl of Essex, and apparently absented himself after Pride’s Purge. He was instrumental in establishing a charity for a Yarmouth Bridewell and the relief of its poor, donating the first £1,500 with the aim of securing the charity an annual income of £500.26 His wife, Elizabeth, was the executrix and main beneficiary of his will. She received properties in Yarmouth and a tenement in Fritton, Suffolk. After her death these devolved upon Owner’s son-in-law, John Brinsley.27 Owner was buried in St. Nicholas’s Church, Great Yarmouth on 15 Aug. 1650.28 No further member of the family sat in Parliament.

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Author: Chris Kyle


  • 1. Norf. RO, Gt. Yarmouth par. reg.; Add. 34559, f. 35.
  • 2. Cal. Yarmouth Freemen, 49.
  • 3. Norf. RO, Y/C18/1, f. 99r-v.
  • 4. Ibid. ff. 100v-102, 110v.
  • 5. Ibid. Y/C19/5, f. 52.
  • 6. Norf. RO, Y/C2/12; Y/C18/4, ff. 67-76v. The 1608 charter turned members of the Forty-Eight into common cllrs.
  • 7. Norf. RO, Y/C19/5, f. 122v.
  • 8. Ibid. ff. 155, 258v; Y/C18/1. f. 110v.
  • 9. Ibid. Y/C18/1, ff. 102v, 107v, 112, 118.
  • 10. Ibid. ff. 102v-119.
  • 11. C212/22/20-1, 23.
  • 12. Norf. RO, Y/C19/6, f. 55.
  • 13. C181/4, f. 50.
  • 14. A. and O. i. 623, 641, 972, 1089, 1240; ii. 40, 305.
  • 15. Ibid. i. 497.
  • 16. Norf. RO, Y/C19/5, f. 139.
  • 17. Ibid. f. 211v.
  • 18. Ibid. f. 230.
  • 19. Ibid. f. 234.
  • 20. CJ, i. 531a, 611b.
  • 21. Norf. RO, Y/C19/5, f. 244.
  • 22. Ibid. f. 248.
  • 23. Ibid. f. 331.
  • 24. Ibid. Y/C19/6, f. 269.
  • 25. H. Swinden, Hist. Gt. Yarmouth, 229-31; F. Blomefield, Hist. Norf. xi. 351.
  • 26. J.B. Whitehead, Hist. Gt. Yarmouth G.S. 32.
  • 27. PROB 11/218, f. 296.
  • 28. Gt. Yarmouth par. reg.; Y/C39/2, unfol.