Owen was born on 17 March 1846 in High Wycombe and baptized in All Saints Church, High Wycombe on 26 April 1846. He was the sixth of eight children (4 boys and 4 girls) born to Robert Thomas Ivall and his wife Harriet nee Owen. Robert had a coach making business (which failed) and lived in High Wycombe until about 1849. In 1850 his youngest child (Harriett) was baptized in Burnham, a village between Maidenhead and Slough. In 1851 he was living in Chalvey, a village which is now a district of Slough. The census that year shows Robert (aged 38, his occupation given as coach maker) with Harriet his wife (46) and their children Robert (10), Jane (9), Marian (6), Owen (5), Louisa (3) and Harriet (7 months).
The family was still living in Chalvey in 1861. The census lists Robert aged 48, a coach maker woodman with Harriet (56), Owen (15), Louisa (13), and Harriet (10). Also at the same address was Jane Ivall (80), Robert’s widowed mother who died in 1866.
Owen’s father Robert died in 1865 when Owen was aged 19. He received a share (£40 10s 8d, equivalent to about £1,850 now) of his grandfather’s estate in 1867 when he reached the age of 21.
On 11 October 1868, Owen married Maria Emily Moss (the daughter of a farmer) at Holy Trinity Church, Windsor. They were both aged 22. His occupation is given as “whitesmith” – the dictionary definition is (1) worker in tin (2) polisher or finisher of metal goods. The witnesses were John Bampton (the husband of Owen’s sister Jane) and Harriet Ivall (Owen’s sister). Maria was pregnant at the time of her marriage.
Owen and Maria had six children (3 boys and 3 girls) namely Maria Emily (b 1869), Harriet Jane (b 1870), Eliza Ada (b1872), Owen Francis (b1874), Robert Thomas Owen (b1876) and Archibald Owen (b1883). All were born in Chalvey.
The 1871 census shows Owen living with his widowed mother at 1 Sussex Place, Chalvey. The household consisted of Harriett Ivall (66), Owen (25), Maria (24), Emily (2), Harriet (7 months) and Owen’s brother Robert (30).
I have a copy of handwritten pages recording the dates of birth of the children of Robert Thomas Ivall, probably from a family bible. They state that Owen Francis Ivall, eldest son of Owen Ivall was “Killed on the Spot” on 21 July 1879 aged 4 years 11 months. The Bucks Herald (26 July 1879) published an item describing an inquest on the boy.
Harriet Jane Ivall, another of Owen’s children, died aged 10 in January 1881. At the time of the 1881 census, Owen (aged 35, a whitesmith) and his wife Maria (34) were living at 2 Sussex Place, Chalvey with their children Maria Emily (12), Eliza Ada (8) and Robert Thomas (4). Tragedy struck again in March 1883 when Owen’s wife died 18 days after the birth of their child Archibald.
The Slough, Eton and Windsor Observer (viewable on the website Slough History Online) has several references to Owen :
- In December 1883 and June 1885 the orders for the No 5 (Slough) Company, First Bucks Rifle Volunteers show Corporal O Ivall on duty. In September 1884 he is recorded as having taken part in a shooting competition (Owen came 22nd out of 28).
- In October 1884 Owen was summoned by order of the School Attendance Committee of the Eton Union for not sending his children regularly to school and fined 2s. He was summoned again for the same offence in July 1885 and fined 2s 6d (equivalent to about £6 now).
Owen married Sarah Smith nee Plumridge in June 1885 at St John the Evangelist, Eton. His new wife was a widow, the daughter of a shoemaker and aged 39, as was Owen.
In December 1886, Owen appeared at Bucks Petty Sessions for public drunkenness. The newspaper report says :
“Owen Ivall, whitesmith, of Chalvey was summoned by the police for having been drunk and incapable on the public streets. Defendant said he “kicked against the pavement.” Police Constable Lillywhite said that at 11 o’clock of the 23rd instant he found the defendant lying in the gutter in the High Street, Slough, helplessly drunk. Witness got assistance and defendant was taken to Police station. In answer to defendant witness said “You did not walk to the station but we had to carry you there. You could not stand at the station and fell down.” Mr Superintendent Dunham said defendant was brought to the station was drunk and helpless as a child. The Magistrates inflicted a fine of 7s 6d including costs or 7 days imprisonment in default of payment. The money was paid.”
Owen’s second marriage was not happy, as shown by a report in the Slough, Eton and Windsor Observer of 10 Sep 1887 under the heading Bucks Petty Sessions
“MATRIMONIAL BLISS – Owen Ivall, whitesmith, of Slough, was charged with having assaulted his wife, Sarah Ivall, and threatened to murder her, on the 31st August. It appeared that the defendant is the third husband of the complainant, and that he was a widower when he married her. They have been living at No. 2, Stoke Gardens. Their life for the past year or so has been a very uncomfortable one, constant quarrels taking place between them, and the woman (according to the evidence of a neighbour named Charles Maslin) often getting beastly drunk. On Tuesday, the 31st August last, the defendant, so complainant now stated, came home about six o’clock in the evening and asked for his tea. Mrs Ivall said to him “You must find the money to get tea.” Defendant then put down his basket, took out his hammer, caught hold of her by the chest and raising the hammer up towards her head said “I will murder you, you -----, or I you shall murder me.” He also told her to go out of the house, as she was his wife no more. He had caught hold of her arm and her arm was covered with bruises in consequence of his violence. He had assaulted her the day before and he was in the habit of thumping her and spitting in her face. She said she went in fear of her life from him. Defendant now denied the assault and the threats. He said what did occur had been through his having caught her with another man in William Street on the preceding Monday evening and she had stayed out till 12 o’clock at night. Mrs Ivall said the man referred to had wished her good evening as she was going along the street and she had simply wished him good evening in return. There had been no impropriety whatever between them. She was merely going to the coffee house to get a cup of tea, as she felt very sinking, having been much upset by her husband abusing her. Charles Maslin, who is employed on the Great Western Railway, gave evidence as to the quarrels between complainant and her husband and said that he had seen her throw bricks and flower-pots at her husband. He believed what occurred was entirely owing to complainant’s bad conduct. The Chairman said it was no doubt a very uncomfortable state of things for a household to be living in the state described as existing between defendant and his wife. It appeared that the defendant had received considerable provocation from his wife’s conduct, and as the Bench did not consider the charge had been proved, he would be discharged. Mrs Ivall incidentally mentioned that she is now living with her father in Thames Court, Eton.”
In October 1891, Owen's son Robert began an apprenticeship to learn to be a sailor on the training ship Arethusa. The paperwork for this says that Owen deserted his children in June 1891. I can find no further records of Owen’s life. I cannot locate him or his sons Robert and Archibald in the England and Wales April 1891 census, nor does Owen appear in the 1901 or 1911 census. His death doesn’t seem to have been registered in England. It may be that he went abroad ? Owen’s daughter Emily married in 1897 and the parish record of the marriage states Owen Ivall as her father, without saying that he was deceased (unlike her spouse’s father who is listed as deceased). So it appears that she thought that he was (or could be) still alive then.