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Archives project opens up researchers' treasure trove

By Toby Neal | Shrewsbury | Features | Published:

Records relating to the internationally-known Owen family are being opened up to online researchers following the completion of a Shropshire Archives' project to catalogue the collection.

The two partners of Rubery Owen and Co, left, Alfred Ernest Owen, and John Tunner Rubery.

After the Owen family – well known through their famous West Midlands company Rubery Owen – deposited the collection, work began on cataloguing at the end of 2017 to make the records more readily available for public access.

And now, following the completion of the project, they can be searched through the Shropshire Archives' website.

Writing in the current edition of Salopian Recorder, the newsletter of the Friends of Shropshire Archives, Sara Downs says: "The Owen Collection does not contain the Rubery Owen business archive – that is located at the Modern Records Centre at the University of Warwick.

"Our collection contains predominantly the probate and estate administration records of members of the Owen family and their benefactor Samuel Smith."

Alderman Samuel Smith, she says, was a wealthy timber merchant who lived in Abbey Foregate, Shrewsbury.

When he died childless in 1879 he made his wife Margaret's two remaining nephews, Alfred and Samuel Hubert Owen, his executors and benefactors, continuing the financial support he had provided them following the death of their father over a decade earlier.

Although she says the collection is made up of few personal records, those that do exist give a flavour of life for a prosperous family at the turn of the 20th century, and are a snippet of social history.

And the records contain a vast amount of information about the various properties that the family owned in Shrewsbury, Wrexham, and the surrounding area.

The newsletter also highlights some of the archives' recent accessions.

They include the First World War military notebooks of W G Ind, diaries of William Edgerton Garnett-Botfield of Bishop's Castle, 1841 to 1905, and, from Manby Bowdler solicitors, deeds for Bridgnorth, Much Wenlock, Madeley, Broseley, Highley and Church Stretton, from the 18th to 20th centuries.

Toby Neal

By Toby Neal
Feature Writer

A journalist in Shropshire for 40 years, mainly writes features and columns, especially about aspects of Shropshire history. Lives in Telford and is based at the Ketley headquarters.

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