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Edward Owen (Royal Navy officer): Wikis


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Admiral Sir Edward William Campbell Rich Owen, GCB, GCH (1771 – 8 October 1849) was a British Royal Navy officer.

Campbell was the illegitimate son of Captain William Owen. He was entered on the books of the Enterprize in the Mediterranean when he was barely four years old, and in 1780–82 he was similarly entered on the books of ships in the West Indies. His actual entry into the navy seems to have been in 1786, on board the Culloden, guardship at Plymouth. He afterwards served on the home, Mediterranean, North American, and West Indian stations; and on 6 November 1793, was promoted lieutenant of the Fortunée. Afterwards, on the home station, in the summer of 1796, he was acting captain of the Impregnable with Rear-Admiral Sir Thomas Rich, his godfather, and of the Queen Charlotte with Sir John Colpoys; and on 19 September was promoted commander.

In May 1797, Owen had charge of a division of gun-brigs at the Nore, under the command of Sir Erasmus Gower. On 23 April 1798, he was posted to the Northumberland, from which he was moved to the Irresistible, in the Medway. In 1801, he commanded the Nemesis in the North Sea and off Dunkirk or Boulogne. In May 1802, he was appointed to the Immortalité, in which, on the renewal of the war, he served on the coast of France, capturing or destroying many gunboats or privateers, more especially on 20 July 1804, when, in conjunction with four brigs and a northerly gale, he ensured the destruction of many gunboats and several hundred soldiers between Boulogne and Étaples. In October 1806, he was moved to the Clyde and ordered to hoist a broad pennant, and successfully attacked the town and port of Boulogne with Congreve rockets. In 1809, he was attached to the Walcheren Campaign. He afterwards commanded the Inconstant in the North Sea, and in 1813 the Cornwall. In 1814 he commanded the yacht Dorset, and on 2 January 1815, was appointed a KCB. In 1816, he was appointed to the yacht Royal Sovereign, which he commanded for the next six years; and from 1822 to 1825 was Commander-in-Chief in the West Indies, with a broad pennant in the Gloucester.

From 1826 to 1829, Owen was Member of Parliament for Sandwich. On 27 May 1825, he was promoted to be rear-admiral; in 1827 he was Surveyor-General of the Ordnance; in March 1828, he was appointed a Lord Commissioner of the Admiralty; and from December 1828 to 1832, was Commander-in-Chief in the East Indies. He married, in 1829, Selina, daughter of Captain John Baker Hay, RN; they had no children.

On his return from the West Indies, Owen was nominated a GCH on 24 October 1832. In 1834, he accepted a seat on the Board of Ordnance in Peel's brief ministry, and contested Sandwich in the Conservative interest, but was defeated. He became a vice-admiral on 10 January 1837, and from 1841 to 1845 was Commander-in-Chief in the Mediterranean, with his flag in the Queen and afterwards in the Formidable. Owen took his wife with him aboard the flagship (a practice the government wanted to end): this caused some concern during the 1844 Morocco crisis, particularly as it was widely believed that she was insane. Distinctly unfavourable comparisons were made with Owen's far younger French counterpart, François d'Orléans, prince de Joinville. Owen presided over the Mediterranean command at a low ebb: Anglo-French entente had reduced the size of the fleet, while his age and infirmity ensured that it was little troubled by activity. Yet in the Morocco crisis, Owen displayed good sense and diplomatic skills, earning the praise of the Admiralty.

Owen was promoted to a GCB on 8 May 1845 and became an admiral on 11 December 1846. He died at his residence, Windlesham House, near Bagshot, Surrey, on 8 October 1849. An able officer, politically conservative and much favoured by William IV, Owen demonstrated real ability in the English Channel between 1802 and 1809, and later at the Board of Ordnance, on the Lord High Admiral's council, and in command afloat.


Military offices
Preceded by
Sir Ulysses Burgh
Surveyor-General of the Ordnance
Succeeded by
Sir Herbert Taylor
Preceded by
Sir Andrew Hay
Clerk of the Ordnance
Succeeded by
Sir Andrew Hay
Preceded by
Sir Robert Stopford
Commander-in-Chief of the Mediterranean
Succeeded by
Sir William Parker
Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Sir George Warrender, Bt
and Henry Bonham
Member of Parliament for Sandwich
with Joseph Marryatt

Succeeded by
Joseph Marryatt
and Sir Henry Fane


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