Sir John Owen, 1st Baronet

Sir John Owen, 1st Baronet (1776 – 6 February 1861),[1] born John Lord, was a British Tory (later Conservative Party) politician from Wales. He sat as a Member of Parliament (MP) for over fifty years. His wealth came from coal mining.


He changed his name to John Owen in about 1809 on inheriting the estate of Sir Hugh Owen, 6th Baronet,[2] who he also succeeded as MP for Pembroke Boroughs that year. He held that seat until the 1812 general election, when he was also elected for Pembrokeshire.[1] He chose to sit for the county, and held that seat until 1841,[1] when he was returned to the House of Commons for Pembroke Boroughs until his death in 1861,[3] aged 84.[1]

He was made a baronet on 12 Jan 1813, of Orielton, Pembrokeshire.[4] He was Lord-Lieutenant of Pembrokeshire from 1824 until his death.[2] He was succeeded in the baronetcy by his son Hugh Owen Owen.[2]

In 1836 Sir John Owen fought a duel at Gumfreston Hall near Tenby with William Richards, a former mayor of the town who was badly wounded in the event. Fought with pistols, it is the last known duel to have taken place in Wales.[5]

The family wealth came from coal mining. South Wales coal was important to the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. His coal mines suffered notable disasters, with many fatalities: an explosion in 1830[6] and an inundation in 1844.[7]

Big House

Owen built a country house on the river, with a substantial dock for the coal boats. He named it "Landshipping House" after his colliery of the same name. It was an impressive castellated mansion, imitating Picton Castle across the River Cleddau. However, debts incurred from running for Parliament and losses caused by water inundation in one of his coalmines meant that he had to sell the house to avoid bankruptcy. The inundation of Garden Pit on 14 February 1844 killed 40 miners, some of whom were probably female - despite the passage two years earlier of the Mines and Collieries Act, which forbad women and girls (and boys under ten) from working underground. The sale took place in 1857 at one of the coffeehouses that served as places of business on Exchange Alley in the City of London. The auction details describe the property as extensive.

The house fell into ruin, and stood abandoned for about a century, before being purchased and restored by a local man who had known the building since childhood. The story of the house and its restoration was covered in Restoration Home, a BBC programme shown in August 2011. Architectural historian Kieran Long and social historian Kate Williams researched and presented some of the background about the Owens and their house.

It is known simply as "Big House".[8]


  1. 1 2 3 4 Leigh Rayment's Historical List of MPs – Constituencies beginning with "P" (part 1)
  2. 1 2 3 Lundy, Darryl. "Sir John Owen, 1st Bt". Retrieved 21 July 2010.
  3. Craig, F. W. S. (1989) [1977]. British parliamentary election results 1832–1885 (2nd ed.). Chichester: Parliamentary Research Services. p. 531. ISBN 0-900178-26-4.
  4. "Baronets: O". Leigh Rayment's baronets pages. Retrieved 21 July 2010.
  5. May, John (1994). A Chronicle of Welsh Events. Swansea: Christopher Davies Ltd. p. 67. ISBN 0-7154-0723-6.
  6. Landshipping Pit Disaster 1830
  7. Landshipping coal mine
  8. Restoration Home, BBC, transmitted 9 August 2011

External links

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Sir Hugh Owen
Member of Parliament for Pembroke Boroughs
1809 – 1812
Succeeded by
Sir Thomas Picton
Preceded by
The Lord Milford
Member of Parliament for Pembrokeshire
Succeeded by
Viscount Emlyn
Preceded by
Sir James Graham
Member of Parliament for Pembroke Boroughs
Succeeded by
Sir Hugh Owen
Honorary titles
Preceded by
The Earl of Uxbridge
Vice-Admiral of Pembrokeshire
Preceded by
The Lord Milford
Lord Lieutenant of Pembrokeshire
Succeeded by
The Lord Kensington
Baronetage of the United Kingdom
New title Baronet
(of Orielton, Pembrokeshire)
Succeeded by
Hugh Owen Owen
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