Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
Grant Wilson, John Fiske and Stanley L. Klos. Six volumes, New York: D. Appleton
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OWEN, Griffith, colonist, born in Wales; died in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1717. He was liberally educated, and became a physician. When William Penn received his charter for the province of Pennsylvania, Owen, then a Quaker, took an active part in promoting the emigration of his Welsh coreligionists, and, being desirous of retaining their language, laws, and customs in the New World, he, with others, induced Penn to set apart 40,000 acres as a Welsh tract, in which the Welsh alone should have the right of purchase, and within the limits of which the language of ancient Britain should prevail. On securing this, Owen emigrated with his family, arriving in Pennsylvania in September, 1684, and settled on this tract, which was called Merion. He acquired an extensive practice, both here and in Philadelphia, to which place he subsequently removed, and performed the first surgical operation, it is thought, in Pennsylvania. He became coroner in 1685, and the next year was chosen to the assembly, in which body he served many years. In 1690 he was made a provincial council-lot for a term of three years, and in 1700 was again chosen to this body, of which he remained a member until his death. Among the other offices that he held were those of an alderman under the charter of 1691, a justice of the peace, a judge of the court of common pleas, and one of Penn's commissioners of property. In the church affairs of the Society of Friends he bore a useful part, not only as a layman, but as a minister, and in the perform-ante of religious work travelled frequently into the other colonies and to England and Wales. In 1689, with others, he drew up a paper "to incite the quarterly meetings to keep up a godly discipline, and a tender inspection over the youth." He attended the historical meeting of Quaker ministers at Burlington, New Jersey, in 1692, where George Keith declared: " There is not more damnable heresies and doctrines of devils amongst any Protestant professions than among the Quakers," and was at the head of the committee of three that was appointed "to admonish Keith." Owen was one of those who prepared the testimony of the "Public Friends" against Keith, and he was the first to sign the noted Quaker document " Our Antient Testimony renewed, concerning our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, the Holy Scriptures, and the Resurrection," of which paper it is said he was the author. He was frequently employed to write epistles from the meeting in Philadelphia to the meeting in other places. Dr. Owen was one of the "dear friends" to whom William Penn, in 1712, addressed a letter from England in which he said: "Now know that though I have not actually sold my government [Pennsylvania] to our truly good queen, yet her able lord treasurer and I have agreed it." The sale was not consummated, however, owing to Penn's illness.
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