An Owen(s) Odyssey
 Our Genealogy & Family History

Bartholomew Owen

Bartholomew & Joanna Owen

Based upon isolated parish records in England and Wales, several theories have been advanced about Bartholomew's birth and parents. Unfortunately, no corroborating evidence can be found to tell us that these records are not just a case of different men coincidently having the same name. Hundreds' of family trees present these unfounded theories as if they are fact even though they can easily be disproved. It can only be proved that he was born 1637 or before (he was sued in court in 1658 and you had to be 21 years of age to be sued). DNA evidence suggests that our roots are in Merionethshire, Wales so either Bartholomew or his parents were probably born in or near Merionethshire. Click Here for more on the problems in tracing Bartholomew's presumed Welsh roots.

Nothing is known of his early life until 1658, when he began showing up in court records in Surry County, Virginia. A lawsuit was filed against him for making "disparaging, malicious, and threatening remarks" against Thomas Gray, a prominent Surry County planter. From the following depositions and testimony given throughout the trial, we get the idea that Bartholomew was a crude-undisciplined man with a, possibly, violent nature.

Robert Spenser, son of Edmund Spenser, under-sheriff of Surry County, deposed that "He had heard Bartholomew, on several occasions and several places, speak very scandalous words against the commissioners of Surry County, saying he would never have justice done him in that court." Spenser further testified that both in James City and Surry County he (Bartholomew) had highly reviled Captain George Jordan, calling him "Raskill and Rogue" and "shoutin Raskill" and other such bad terms. When Spenser rebuked Owen for his "malicious" words. Owen replied, swearing, "God Damn him of that raskill George Jordan, and (that) Capt. Jordan would not live a month in the county, etc."

Mrs. Fortune Mills deposed that "several times in her presence, Bartholomew Owen spoke disparingly [sic] and Scandalously of Capt. Jordan... and Maliciously against the Court". Roger Rawlins, swore in court that he heard (Bartholomew) Owen "disparage Captain Jordan and the court threatening him publicly in company saying 'he longs to kick that man's arse.'"

The court eventually found Bartholomew guilty of "scandalous and defamatory language" The trial and verdict apparently did not much affect Bartholomew's standing within the community. He was selected to serve on an inquest jury for an accidental death (totally unrelated to his own legal troubles). And, he was a church warden less than one year after his trial ended.

We don't know the exact location where Bartholomew lived but it was south of the James River on the west bank of Grey's Creek, southeast of John Chichocan's Swamp. We know he sold cattle and horses from time to time but court documents usually listed his occupation as "gentleman". The meaning of the word back then was somewhat different from the modern definition. A gentleman was someone who did not have to work for a living. A gentleman's income came from rents, royalties, investments, family allowance, inheritance, or other means-other than work, that is. One could be uncouth, unkempt, illiterate, ill-bred, and ill-mannered yet still be considered a gentleman by the 17th century definition-not to imply that Bartholomew fit that profile.

On 20 Jun 1662, the jury in the case between Bartholomew Owen and John Corker found that some timber had been cut upon the land of the orphans of Thomas Gray. It is unclear if Bartholomew was the plaintiff or defendant in this case.

In 1663, Bartholomew lost a lawsuit and forfeited 2,129 pounds of tobacco to Henry and John Richards. Don't know what the lawsuit was about.

Reportedly, Bartholomew married Joan, or Joanna (Jennings?) about 1666. This seems about right because their son Robert was born about 1667 and Joan would have turned 16 about 1666-at that time, women in the British Empire could not legally marry before age 16.

If anyone has proof that her maiden name was Jennings, they are keeping it well hidden. Subsequently, there is much speculation about who might have been Joanna's parents. Most of it centered around Bartholomew's neighbors and none of it supported by credible evidence. The most popular (but erroneous) theory is that she was the daughter of Sir Edmond Jennings and Lady Margaret Barkham (they never set foot in America). However, documentary evidence together with a total lack of supporting DNA evidence seem to debunk this theory. Apparently, someone posted it online and hundreds of others blindly copied it, without looking for contradictory evidence.

Even Joanna's first name is subject to speculation and debate. In court and land records, her name is variously spelled as Jone, Jonne, Joanne, and Joanna. Mostly, we only have transcribed excerpts from these documents. So, we are relying upon what someone else thought they read in the document. Creative spelling variations were common in 17th century documents and the handwriting is extremely hard to read. Thus, the writer may have written Joanne as a creative spelling for the name Joan and the transcriber may have read it as Joanna. Personally, I think her name really was Joanna but I'm open to other suggestions if someone comes up with a better theory.

Joanna may have had a calming influence on Bartholomew because after their marriage, he was no longer constantly being sued in court. His worst offence after the marriage seems to have been in 1675 when he was fined one shilling for violating the Sabbath by not attending church.

Bartholomew and Joanna had four children:

  1. Robert Owen - Born: about 1667in Surry County, Virginia. Married: (possibly) Hannah and Katherine. Not necessarily in that order
  2. Katherine Owen - Born: sometime before June 1668 in Surry County, Virginia. Died: 1719 in Surry County, Virginia (unproven). Married: Joshua Proctor 3 Jan 1681 in Surry County, Virginia.
  3. William Owen - Born: about 1672 in Surry County, Virginia.
    Died: between 23 Oct 1752 (wrote his will) and 20 Mar 1753 (will presented in court) in Halifax County, Virginia.
    Married: 1st A "Miss" Brookes before 1695 (in Henrico, Virginia?), 2nd Lydia Lunsford.
  4. Thomas Owen - Born: about 1672 in Surry County, Virginia. Died: 1744 in HenricoCounty, Virginia. Married:Elizabeth Brookes 1690 in Henrico County, Virginia. Note: Elizabeth Brookes was the sister of his brother's wife, Miss Brookes.

On 8 Sep1677, Bartholomew granted power of attorney to Nicholas Merriwether. Since this was a few months before his death, Bartholomew may have been too sick or incapacitated to conduct his own affairs.

Bartholomew died sometime between 8 Sep 1677 (signed power of attorney) and 31 Jan 1677 (his widow was granted administration of his estate). According to the court record, she had four minor children. Although not named in the court record, they would have been Robert, Katherine, William, and Thomas.

Note: Prior to 1752, the British new year was always on March 25 th-not January 1st. Thus, 31 Jan 1677 came after 8 Sep 1677.

After he died, Bartholomew's estate was appraised by his friends and neighbors, Will Foreman and John Morning. Even though they may have down played the value of Bartholomew's possessions to lessen the inheritance tax burden on his widow, we still get the picture that he was not very wealthy. For example, the appraisal listed:

one ould diseased horse and ould saddle and bridle, a bull, heyfer 12 years old, and a heifer calf, 6 shoates and 2 sows with 12 pigs... a passell of ould pewter, 2 ould iron pots, 2 pair pot hooks, 2 spits, and a pair of ould tongs... 2 very ould thin feather beds and boulsters and 1 very ould, woolen cloth blankit, 2 tables and a fourme (bench) very ould, and 1 ould chest without a lock. A parcel of lumber and ould iron and 1 barrill of a gun and an unfixed lock and an ould rifle.

Not quite what you would expect for the owner of a 648-acre plantation.

On 7 Jun 1778, William Rogers "at ye widow Owens" appeared on a list of tithable men. In subsequent years, his name appeared along with Joanna's eldest son, Robert Owen in the same household. Obviously, ye widow Owens is Joanna Owen. William Rogers apparently lived with Joanna and her children for at least five years following Bartholomew's death. We have no idea if or how William Rogers may be related to Joanna. Some researchers have claimed he was her 2nd husband but that theory can be easily debunked using old records. After William Rogers was no longer living with Joanna, her son-in-law, Joshua Proctor, (Katherine's husband) moved in.

The Virginia Patent Book 8, page 3 has an entry dated 20 Oct 1689, wherein Robert Owen was granted patent to 743 acres on the S.E. side of Chechocan Swamp-648 acres of which was due Robert as eldest son and heir to his late father Bartholomew Owen's estate and 95 acres of which was due him for importing 2 persons (John Sharp and Henry Wyche). The very same day, Edmond Jennings, Esquire was granted patent to 6,513 acres on the north side of the James River about 12 or 14 miles above the foot of the falls, for the importation of 131 persons including Robert Owen, Jone (sic) Owen, and William Owen.

Note: Edmund Jennings, Esquire was the son of Sir Edmond Jennings and Lady Margaret Barkham (erroneously reputed to be Joanna's parents). The falls is a 7-mile-stretch of the James River in present day Richmond, Virginia.

Joanna's daughter, Katherine and her husband remained behind in Surry County. It is unknown why Joanna's son, Thomas (about age 17), was not transported with Joanna. Maybe he was living on his own? Within a year or less, Thomas moved back in with his mother in what became Henrico County. Joanna's son, Robert left his mother and moved back to Surry County.

Sometime between 1689 and 1693, Bartholomew's widow married Thomas Brookes-himself a widower with two daughters. Joanna's son, Thomas Owen, married his new stepsister Elizabeth Brookes and his brother, William Owen, married Elizabeth's sister, only identified as "Miss Brookes". It has been speculated that "Miss Brookes" died before 1700 (unproven). There is no evidence that William and "Miss Brookes" ever had any children of their own. Several online trees have shown Alsoe as the given name of "Miss Brookes". However, if they give any source at all for their information, it is only a reference to someone else's family tree. If you track down the chain of family trees listed, you eventually wind up at a tree with no source information given. By the way, Alsoe does not appear to be a girl's name in English (or any other) language.

Reportedly, Joanna and Thomas Brookes had one child of their own (unproven & unlikely):

  1. Thomas Brookes, Jr. - Almost nothing is known about him. Some family trees claim (without proof) that he was born in Henrico County in 1676 or 1680 and that he died 6 Apr 1734 in York County, Virginia. The birth information is clearly wrong-Joanna was still in Surry County at that time and she did not marry Thomas until about ten years later.

It's my belief that Joanna & Thomas Brookes never had children together and that the reason we can't find any records for Thomas Brookes, Jr. is that he never existed in the first place.

Joanna's second husband, Thomas Brookes died in 1695. In his will, dated 1694, he mentions sons-in-law, Thomas and William Owen. In the 17th century, a stepson was sometimes mistakenly called a son-in-law. Therefore, we don't know if Thomas and William were called sons-in-law by virtue of the fact that they had already married the daughters of Thomas Brookes, or if they had not yet married Thomas Brookes' daughters but were called sons-in law by virtue of the fact they were stepsons (sons of Thomas Brookes' second wife, Joanna Owen).

Also, in 1695, Joanna's son Robert sold a 110-acre parcel of his late father's plantation, in Surry County, to his brother-in -law, Joshua Proctor. Joshua willed it to his son, Nicholas Proctor (grandson of Bartholomew and Joanna).

Joanna (Owen) Brookes died sometime after 1704 in Henrico County, Virginia.

In 1710, the son of Captain William Walker of New Kent, Virginia sold his late father's land in Henrico County calling it "the plantation where Joan Brookes formerly lived."

Research Notes:

Bartholomew Owen - Myths & Theories

A great deal has been written about Bartholomew and his immediate family. For the most part, myths and theories have been stated as simple fact even though there may be ample evidence to debunk them. The following is an attempt to separate true facts from unproven theories and easily debunkable myths.

Myth - Bartholomew was born 24 Aug 1619 in Steventon, Berkshire, England, son of Robert Owen and Joane White

This information appears to have come from England, Select Births and Christenings,1538-1975, online at Ancestry. com and at Family The collection includes information gathered from English church records and the International Genealogical Index (a computer file created by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints).

The main problem with using the information from this source is that there is no way to determine that the male child Baptized as Bartholomew Owen in Steventon, England is the same person as the adult Bartholomew Owen who later settled in Virginia. In fact, the odds are strongly against it.

Given the frequency of the given name Bartholomew and the frequency of the surname Owen, we can statistically predict that there easily could have been a dozen or more children born in England and Wales in the early 1600's, all having the same name of Bartholomew Owen. Therefore, there's only about 1 chance in 12 that this birth record is for our Bartholomew. Records can be found for the following men named Bartholomew Owen:

  1. Bartholomew Owen, baptized 24 Aug 1619 in Steventon, Berkshire, England
  2. Bartholomew Owen, baptized 2 Nov 1628 in Conway Parish, Caernarvonshire, Wales
  3. Bartholomew Owen, born 1640 in London, son of Colonel Thomas Owen
  4. Bartholomew Owen, married Anne Charles 9 May 1641 in London
  5. Bartholomew Owen, son of Dr. Richard Owen, vicar of Eldtham Church in London

Without further documentation, it is folly to randomly point to the baptism record of one of them and say "Oh yeah, this is clearly our ancestor who wound up in Virginia."

DNA evidence also argues against Robert Owen and Joane White as the parents of the Bartholomew Owen who settled in Virginia. If they are not his parents, then, obviously, he was not born 24 Aug 1619 in Steventon, Berkshire, England. In addition to my own DNA, I have full access to the AncestryDNA matches of seven other descendants of the Bartholomew Owen from Virginia. Together, we have autosomal DNA matches to more than 200 (I quit counting) other descendants of Bartholomew's relatives. However, we have ZERO matches to anyone who is a descendant of a relative of Robert Owen or Joane White.

Furthermore, we have a number of DNA matches to descendants of Owen families living in Merionethshire, Wales in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth century. Although we can't find documentary evidence linking our Bartholomew with these families and their locations, the DNA evidence strongly suggests that Bartholomew's (and our) Owen roots are in north Wales. Conversely, DNA evidence that would show our Owen roots in Berkshire, England is lacking.

And then there's his marriage to Joanna, reportedly in 1666-which seems about right considering when their children were born. From court records, we know that Joanna was born about 1650 to 1652. If Bartholomew was really born in 1619, then it would have been a 47 year-old-man marrying a 14 to 16-year-old girl. Yeah, we all know men tend to prefer younger wives but not THAT much younger. Statistically, less than 1/2 of one percent of all men will marry a woman more than 30 years younger than themselves. Could have happened but the statistical probability is 0.005 where 1 = certain and 0 = impossible.

Consider also his words and actions during his court cases in the late 1650's and early 1660's. He threatened law enforcement and even shouted insults against the very court that would decide his case. These are the words and actions of an immature, impetuous youth with raging high levels of testosterone-not the actions of a mature man of 39 years, which he would have been if he really was born in 1619. Just a few years later, he quit acting with such bluster and bravado. An indication that he finally grew up?

The earliest record that can definitely be tied to Bartholomew Owen of Surry County, Virginia is a 29 Jan 1658 court record where he is being sued. Since you had to be 21 years of age to be sued, we can only say for sure that he must have been born about 1637 or earlier.

Myth - Bartholomew was born 1640 in London. England, son of Colthomas (sic) Owen

We know that our Bartholomew Owen of Virginia was born before 1637 (see above). Therefore, the son of Colthomas is clearly another unrelated person who coincidently had the same name as our ancestor. Also, see the arguments above for a birth more likely in north Wales rather than in England.

The name "Colthomas" is probably meant to be Colonel Thomas Owen, an actual person who lived in London.

Theory - Bartholomew was born before 2 Nov 1628 in Conway Parish, Merionethshire, Wales, the son of William and Jane Owen

There is a Baptism record, dated 2 Nov 1628, for Bartholomew Owen, son of W m and Jane, his wife, in the Conway parish record book. A copy is online at ( The First volume of the Conway parish registers: In the rural deanery of Arllechwedd, diocese of Bangor, Caernarvonshire, 1541-1793, page 117, image 137). This fits the DNA evidence for our roots in Merionethshire--although the church was in Caernarvonshire, the full parish included much of what used to be Merionethshire. From the parish records, it appears that William may have had a brother named John. This all fits in with family lore about our forebears being three brothers (William, John, and Thomas), who came to America from Wales. This family lore was first published in 1911 (see Historical Sketches of the Campbell, Pilcher and Kindred Families including the Bowen, Russell, Owen, Goodwin, Amis, Carothers, Hope, Taliaferro, and Powell Families; page 318, image 332: online at Ancestry .com. Similar stories were written down in the 1930's and 1950's by members of other branches of the Owens family and copies remain in private hands. The birth in this parish record has not been proven to be the Bartholomew Owen of Virginia; but, of all the theories about his birth, this is the only one that is anywhere close to family lore and DNA evidence.

Exciting, huh? Not so fast. In the same Conway parish register as his birth, there is a burial record for Bartholomew Owen seven weeks later-no other details given such as age at death, parents, wife, etc. No proof that this burial was the infant of the same name born 7 weeks earlier but also no proof that he's not. Therefore, it's questionable whether the Bartholomew born in Conway Parish is the same Bartholomew who settled in Virginia.

If the 1628 date is correct, Bartholomew would have been about 39 years of age when his first child was born-perhaps a little late to be starting a family but not all that unusual (I, myself, was 39 when my first and only child was born).

Theory - Bartholomew was the son of

William Owen (1584-1674) of Machynlleth, Wales

This theory has been advanced in just a handful of family trees without any supporting evidence. But then, eight or nine hundred other online family trees offer theories that can easily be debunked or-at best-have a very low probability. And none of them offer a shred of credible evidence. We have to be a little suspicious of claims that he lived to be 90 years old. Eight of us who are Bartholomew's descendants have a large number of DNA matches with people whose ancestors seem to be clustered around Bangor, Dolgellau, and Machynlleth, Wales. We have no other such clusters in England, Scotland, or Ireland. The problem with this theory appears to be that William Owen (1584-1674) was reportedly married to Ann Strator (or Stator) and we have no DNA matches to descendants of a Strator/Stator family. Therefore, William may be related to us as xth cousin or xth great-granduncle but he's probably not Bartholomew's father and probably not our direct line ancestor. When I was in Wales, I searched the archives but could not find any evidence for William Owen (1584-1674).

Myth - Bartholomew's First or Middle name was William

Prior to 1660 it was found that 99.985% of men did not have a middle name. The Virginia Settler's Research Project found "that middle names were almost nonexistent in seventeenth-century Virginia". Source: A Guide to Seventeenth-Century Virginia Court Handwriting by Kent P. Bailey and Ransome B. True; published by the Virginia Genealogical Society, 2001, page 29.

More than two-dozen primary source documents surviving from the 1600's mention Bartholomew by name. Not one of them ever used the name William when referring to him.

Myth - Bartholomew Held the Title of Sir Bartholomew Owen

I have no idea how this myth came into existence but it has propagated into a number of family trees. Of course, not one of them offers a shred of proof. Throughout his life, Bartholomew appeared in many court records and other official documents of the British empire. None of these documents show his name as Sir Bartholomew Owen. In the 17th century, the title Sir was conferred on a man when he was knighted by the King of England. It would have been a serious breach of protocol if an official document omitted the title of Sir from the name of a Knight. Therefore, the evidence is strongly against Bartholomew ever being a knight or holding the title of Sir.

Myth - Bartholomew married Ann Charles in Southwarke, Surry, England (or Southwark Parish, Surrey, Virginia) on 9 May 1641

This appears to be another case of mistaken identity-same name but wrong man. There is no DNA evidence showing that we are distantly related to any Owen family living in Surry, England. St. George the Martyr, the church where Ann Charles married a man named Bartholomew Owen was in the London borough of Southwarke in Surrey County, England. Southwarke, Surrey, England should not be confused with Southwark Parish, Surry, Virginia. Southwarke (ends with an e) is a borough of London, England while Southwark (ends with a k) was the name of a parish church in Virginia. Surrey (ends with an ey) was a county in England, while Surry (ends with ry) was a county in Virginia. The Bartholomew Owen who married Ann Charles is almost certainly the Bartholomew Owen who was born 1619 in Berkshire, England because Berkshire borders Surrey County. We have already established that Bartholomew born 1619 was not the same man as Bartholomew of Virginia therefore, the Bartholomew who married Ann Charles was not Bartholomew of Virginia. Since this marriage-reportedly-did not produce any children, we can't look for any Charles DNA to prove the marriage. However, if Bartholomew really was born in 1628 then he would have been too young (12 years old) to have married in 1641.

Myth - Bartholomew married Joanna Jennings, daughter of Sir Edmond Jennings and Lady Margaret Barkham

Documents from the period his wife was alive show her given name as Jone, Jonne, Joanne, or Joanna. Documents in that era were all handwritten and handwriting from that period is often extremely hard to read. Thus, a poorly written Joanne could easily be misread as Joanna, Jane for Jone, etc. Theories abound as to her maiden surname but the evidence is either lacking or-at best-highly circumstantial. The most popular theory is that Bartholomew's wife was Joanna Jennings, daughter of Sir Edmond Jennings and Lady Margaret Barkham

As popular as this theory may be, it can be proven that Joanna is clearly NOT the daughter of Sir Edmund Jennings and Lady Margaret Barkham. As a knight, the family of Sir Edward and Lady Margaret is well documented. They never had a child named Joan, Joanna, or anything similar. The documentary evidence shows that Sir Edmund and his wife Margaret lived and died in England without ever having set foot in America. Joanna was reportedly born in Virginia-- another indication that she was not the daughter of Sir Edmund.

Some researchers claim that Joanna is really Anne Jennings, daughter of Sir Edward and Lady Margaret. The problem with this theory is that Anne Jennings was the wife of George Bledsoe at the same time our Joanna was married to Bartholomew Owen. None of the documents mentioning Bartholomew's wife ever give her name as Anne.

On 20 Oct 1689, Edmond Jennings, Esquire., son of Sir Edmond, was granted patent to 6,513 acres on the north side of the James River for importation of 131 persons including Bartholomew's widow and children. It was very common for wealthy men to receive land grants for importing (moving) unrelated persons into unsettled lands in the colonies. However, some researchers have-apparently-used this fact to magically leap to the conclusion that Sir Edmond must be Joanna's father. No one claims the other 131 persons imported were children of Sir Edmond. And Edmond Jennings, Esquire was too young to have been Joanna's father. He was born about 1659 and came to America about 1680

Finally, if Joanna was the daughter of Sir Edmond and Lady Margaret, you would expect descendants of Joanna and Bartholomew to share at least some DNA with descendants of the children, aunts, uncles, and other relatives of Sir Edmond and Lady Margaret. So far, we can't find any.

Theory - Bartholomew's wife, was the daughter of Edward Joanes

On 10 Jan 1668, Bartholomew Owen and Edward Joanes appeared on a tithe list (apparently living in the same household). Some researchers appear to have speculated (without further supporting evidence) that Edward Joanes must be Joanna's father.

Theory - Bartholomew's wife was the daughter of Christopher Lewis

There is a court record of a gift from Christopher Lewis, Bartholomew's neighbor, to Katherine Owen, daughter of Bartholomew and Joanna. Katherine is also named as a godchild in Christopher's will. Based upon this gift and the will, some researchers have jumped to the conclusion that Christopher Lewis was the maternal grandfather of Katherine Owen (and thus Joanna's father).

The problem with this theory is that Christopher's will named three other godchildren, none of whom appear to be Christopher's grandchildren. Significantly, his will does not mention any of Joanna's other children. Mary Jones (who really was his granddaughter) was mentioned in the will but she was not shown as a godchild. Altogether, Christopher mentioned nine (possibly ten) children in his will, none of whom were his own children and only one of whom appears to be his grandchild. Most are merely children of his neighbors-as was Katherine Owen.

Given Christopher's penchant for gifting unrelated neighboring children, it is a stretch to conclude that he was Joanna's father just because he gave her daughter a gift.

At least one researcher has claimed (apparently, without evidence) that Joanna was adopted by Christopher Lewis (see below).

Theory - Bartholomew's wife was the daughter of John Jennings

In 1649, John Jennings was granted 250 acres on Grey's Creek for importing five persons. His property was adjacent to Bartholomew Owen's property and Christopher Lewis' property. He apparently was not a successful plantation owner because, in 1667, Thomas Busby transported John (as an indentured servant?) to another location. It's just a theory, but it's possible that-before he placed himself in indentured servitude--John Jennings allowed Christopher Lewis to adopt Joanna.

Myth - Bartholomew & Joanna had more than 4 children

Joanna had only been of child bearing age about 11 years when Bartholomew died. The court record granting her administration of his estate stated that she had 4 minor children. Since all of her children would have been minors, 4 would have been the sum total of Bartholomew and Joanna's children-at least those still living in 1677. Their names were Robert, Katherine, Thomas, and William.

Myth - Bartholomew's widow married William Rogers

For five or six years after Bartholomew died, William Rogers was listed as a titheable male living in the household of "ye widow Owens". By the time of the tithing list dated 10 Jun 1684, William Rogers was no longer living in the Owen household. In his place was Joshua Proctor, Joanna's son-in-law and husband of Katherine (Owen) Proctor. We don't know what relationship, if any, William Rogers had with Joanna but it was certainly not as man and wife because on 20 Oct 1689, Joan Owen and her children were listed on a land patent as persons who had been transported. Since she was listed as Joan Owen and not Joan Rogers, she, obviously had never been married to William Rogers.

Not What You Think- Bartholomew was a Gentleman

In old court documents, a man's name was often followed by his occupation or trade. Bartholomew's name was sometimes followed by the word "gentleman". Back then, the word "gentleman" had a somewhat different meaning from modern usage. A gentleman was someone who did not have to work for a living. His support came from rents, royalties, allowance, investments, inheritance, or some other means-other than work, that is. A gentleman might have been-but was not necessarily-educated, well-bred or well-mannered. On the other hand, he could have been an ignorant, uncouth, lout, who was called a gentleman simply because he did not have to work for a living. Source: A History of Halifax County (Virginia); by Wirt Johnson Carrington; copyright 1924; page 35; book online at

Myth - Bartholomew had a heraldic coat of arms or family crest

There is no such thing as an "official" Owen or Owens family crest. There are several companies in the UK that will sell you a rendering of your family crest including a brief narrative on the origin and history of your surname. The fact that they will sell you a document (or trinket) with your family crest even though they don't know your genealogy back to the age when knights actually wore a coat of arms should tell you how "authentic" (or NOT) their product is. These are primarily produced for the tourist trade and have nothing to do with modern-day Owen(s) families of Welsh. Irish, or Scotch descent.

According to Wikipedia: "A crest is personal to the armiger (person who actually bore arms in combat or tournament), and its use by others is considered usurpation. Merely sharing the same family name of an armiger is insufficient."

The Celtic princes of Wales first took up the use of heraldic symbols in the 13th century. The symbols were linked to an individual to help distinguish friend from foe on the battlefield and to help identify the dead after a battle. In England, coats of arms evolved to denote family descent, profession, property and other association. However, in Wales, one cannot trace family descent along lines of persons having the same surname because the Welsh surnames were formed from the given name of a person's father (or from a person's occupation, place of abode, physical characteristics-e.g.Taylor (Tailor), Carpenter, bald, fat, redhead, etc.). Only rarely did a father and son have the same surname. Therefore, the odds are strongly against someone with a surname of Owen(s) being a direct descendant of a Prince of Wales named Owen or Owain, who had worn a personal coat of arms in combat.

If you want to decorate your family tree with pretty pictures of a family crest then go for it. But, be aware that you may be accused of "putting on airs" by people who are really in the know. If you want to be historically accurate for your relatives of Welsh descent then ditch the coat of arms/family crest (unless, of course, you can prove descent back to someone who actually displayed a personal coat of arms in battle-good luck with that).

The British Act of the Union in 1536 required that the Welsh people adopt the fixed surname system e.g. sons and daughters were given the same surname as their father. Prior to that, most Welsh did not use surnames as we know them. The actual transition to fixed surnames had started before the 1536 Act of the Union and extended over several centuries thereafter-the remote rural areas were among the last to switch over. Most Welshmen lived in remote rural areas.

Myth - Bartholomew made a return visit to the British Isles in the early 1670's

The main source for this myth appears to be U.S. and Canada, Passenger and Immigration Lists Index,1500's-1900's , online at, which shows a Bartholomew Owen arrived 1673 in Virginia. Coupled with the fact that Bartholomew's name does not appear in court or land records for two and one-half years prior to a March,1673 land patent, some researchers have speculated that he must have made a return visit to the British Isles and then sailed back to his home in Virginia in 1673.

The problem in using this source for arrival information is that not everyone on the list was a passenger on a ship arriving at the place and year indicated. tells us that some of the entries came from actual passenger lists while others came from land patent records. In fact, Bartholomew's 1673 record at Ancestry has the following annotation: "Date and place where land was patented…". This source ONLY proves that Bartholomew's name appeared on a Virginia land patent dated 1673. It does NOT prove that he arrived aboard a ship in 1673. Therefore, speculation that he made a return visit to the British Isles is based upon a false premise.

Myth - Bartholomew died on 31 Jan 1677

Actually, we don't know exactly when he died. 31 Jan 1677 is when the court granted his widow administration over his estate. So, obviously, he died sometime before that date. He was still alive on September 8, 1677, when he granted power of attorney to Nicholas Merriwether. Strangely (to us), September 1677 came before January 1677. From the year 1155 up until 1751, the British new year began on March 25th. Thus, January, February, and part of March were always in the same year as the preceding December. If you went to bed on December 31st 1700 then when you woke up the next morning, it would be January 1st 1700--the same year. If you went to bed on March 24th 1700, then when you woke up the next morning, it would be March 25th 1701. Starting in 1752, the start of the new year was moved back to January 1st. To avoid confusion, years for dates in January, February, and March are sometimes written as 1677/78 meaning it was 1677 according to the old calendar and 1678 according to the way we treat January, February, and March today.

Click Herefor Bartholomew's family group sheet.

Copyright © 2018 Virgil Owens
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