HARRY, GEORGE OWEN (or OWEN, GEORGE) (c. 1553 - c. 1614), antiquary

Name: George Owen Harry
Date of birth: c. 1553
Date of death: c. 1614
Parent: Maud ferch Ffylip ap Sion ap Tomas
Parent: Owen Harry
Gender: Male
Occupation: antiquary
Area of activity: History and Culture; Scholarship and Languages
Author: Bertie George Charles

According to the pedigree which he himself supplied to Lewis Dwnn, he was the son of Owain ap Harri of Llanelly and Maud, daughter of Phillip ap John ap Thomas of ' Hendre Mor,' Gower. He was instituted into the rectory of Whitchurch in Cemais, Pembrokeshire, on 18 March 1584, on the presentation of George Owen of Henllys. He was also rector of Llanfihangel Penbedw in the same neighbourhood, holding both livings from 1597 to 1613 or longer. The rector was a frequent visitor to Henllys, for Whitchurch was but a short distance away, and for nearly thirty years the two antiquaries enjoyed each other's friendship and literary interests. George Owen Harry was the author of The Genealogy of the High and Mighty Monarch, James … King of great Brittayne, &c. with his lineall descent from Noah, by divers direct lynes to Brutus (London, 1604), The work was intended to show the fitness of James, as shown by his pedigree, to rule over all the countries of Great Britain. It was compiled at the request of Robert Holland, another Pembrokeshire clergyman, who supplied an introductory letter addressed to the king. Another book entitled The Well-sprynge of True Nobility is also attributed to George Owen Harry, (see NLW MS 9853E ) but no copy of it has so far been discovered in any library. He was also a genealogist, and we have a work of his on Pembrokeshire coats of arms.


Published date: 1959

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The work of George Owen Harry's circle of friends is fully discussed by B.G. Charles , George Owen of Henllys: a Welsh Elizabethan (Aberystwyth, 1973), and the life and work of the antiquary is discussed in detail by E. D. Jones, ' George Owen Harry ', Pembrokeshire Historian, 6 (1979), 58-75. On the basis of his evidence in a case in 1613-14 it can be assumed that he was born about 1553. He made his will (leaving a great deal of gear in the parish of Reynoldston, Gower) on 8 February 1611-12 and he had probably died by summer 1614. E. D. Jones says that there is no evidence that Harry's work 'The Wellspring of True Nobilitie' was published as a book but that Thomas Salesbury published the portion which dealt with King James I's genealogy in London in 1604. However in 1956 Sir Michael Dillwyn-Venables-Llewelyn presented to the National Library a MS. of almost all of The Well-spring, a MS. (NLW 9853) which is a good copy made in the early 17th c. It is a reflection of George Owen Harry's antiquarian and historical interests.

George Owen Harry was one of the three children of Owen Harry who married three of the children of Thomas Lucas, The Hills, Reynoldston, Gower, which suggests a very strong association with that area. George Owen Harry says himself in the genealogy which he gave Lewys Dwnn in 1597 (Dwnn, Heraldic Visitations, i, 32-3) that his ancestors came, for the most part, from Llanelli, though his mother was the daughter of a man from Gower, married to a member of the Crump family whose home was in Sanctuary, Pen-rhys. In Gower it was believed that George Owen Harry was a native of the area, rather than of Carmarthenshire. In his description of Reynoldston for Edward Lhuyd in the 1690s (F.V. Emery, The Transactions of the Honourable Society of Cymmrodorion, 1965, 103) Isaac Hamon says: ' In this parish Sr. Geo: Owen clerke, was born, called by some, George Owen Harry, he was the third son of Owen Harry Owen a freeholder of this parish '. In the genealogical MS. NLW Castell Gorfod 8, f. 141, c. 1700, containing notes gathered, perhaps, by Isaac Hamon, George Owen Harry is given as the 3rd son of Owen Harry of Reynoldston. It is likely that Isaac Hamon was well acquainted with George Owen Harry's grandson, John Owen, vicar of Pennard in Gower, who died in 1690. The genealogy in Castell Gorfod MS. 8 is probably based on William Bennett, Pen-rhys Castle's, book of genealogies which he compiled about 1630. The MS. is in the Royal Institution of South Wales (see the index to Bennett's book by G. Grant Francis, pp. 158, 188, 189). Here George Owen Harry is the fourth son of Owen Harry of Reynoldston and the two genealogies take the line back to Morris de Novo Castro or Morris Castell of Llanelli in the time of Edward II and naturally confirm that the three children of Owen Harry married the children of Thomas Lucas of Reynoldston.

These genealogies cannot be made consistent with that in Lewys Dwnn's book, but William Bennett's evidence cannot be totally disregarded since he lived in the same period as George Owen Harry, within a stone's throw of Reynoldston.


  • Francis Michael Gibbs
  • Prys Morgan

Published date: 1997

Article Copyright:


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