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William Owston
Birth: Feb., 1778, England
Death: Aug. 10, 1857
St. Marys
Perth County
Ontario, Canada

Born in Ganton, East Riding, Yorkshire and christened on 27 February 1778 the son of Thomas and Elizabeth Walker Owston.

He married Frances Wilson on 22 April 1801 at North Leith, Midlothian, Scotland.

William Owston served as a merchant sailor before being pressed into service on the HMS Driver where he served initially as a midshipman and later as a gunner's mate. When hostilities subsided with France in 1803, he jumped ship at Chatham, Kent, England and returned to the merchant service.

From 1805 to 1808, he was the Master of the merchant vessel - Snow Howard at Scarborough. During this same time, he also served as a civilian pilot for the Royal Navy.

He was present at the Second Battle of Copenhagen, but the name of the vessel in which he was employed is not known.

During 1808, he served as pilot of the HMS Vanguard.

At some point prior to 1810, he was captured by the French and he and a nephew George Gillon were incarcerated at Verdun, France. William escaped traveling by night and being hidden by his Masonic brothers in France, Belgium, and the Netherlands. From Amsterdam, he was able to secure passage to London.

On August 4, 1810, he was hired by the Corporation of the Trinity House as a Master for the Royal Navy.

He served for 3 1/4 years on the HMS Princess Charlotte, which was renamed as the HMS Andromache. During which time, he fought in the Battle of San Sebastian, Spain for which he was awarded in 1847 the Naval General Service Medal with a clasp for San Sebastian.

In 1814 & 1815, he served on the HMS Superb, which became the flagship of Sir Henry Hotham. The Superb was stationed off of New England during the War of 1812 and off of the coast of France. Napoleon surrendered to this fleet on 15 July 1815 and was presented to Admiral Hotham and his crew aboard the Superb on July 17.

According to the master's log of the Superb, Owston was in command of the ship the day that Napoleon arrived. Other sources indicate that the ward officers (of which Owston was one) were present when Hotham and Napoleon had brunch.

During the final quarter of 1815 and through 1816, he finished his active naval service aboard ships of the first rate: HMS St. George and HMS Impregnable, flagships of Admiral J.T. Duckworth.

With the reduction of the Royal Navy following the end of hostilities with France, William along with many other officers were put on half-pay - subject to reactivation in case of war. This never occurred.

In the 1820s, William and his family relocated to Upper Canada (Ontario) where he and his eldest son, Thomas, received numerous acres from the Crown for their service in the Royal Navy.

Most of his time in Canada was spent in Hamilton Twp., Northumberland County near Cobourg. He was one of the three commissioners to supervise the construction and operation of the Gull Island Lighthouse between Cobourg and Port Hope. His second son, William, Jr., was the lighthouse keeper for a number of years.

Following the death of his wife Frances, William relocated to St. Mary's in Perth County where his three daughters were living.

He was buried in an unmarked grave in the Old Anglican Cemetery. The cemetery closed in 1875 and some (but not all) of the interments were moved to the new municipal cemetery. Currently the location of the Old Anglican Cemetery is a park.

St. Mary's Argus, St. Mary's, Ontario
August 13, 1857.

At his residence in this village on the 10th inst. Mr. William Owston, R.N. [Royal Navy], aged 79 years.

Family links: 
  Frances Wilson Owston (1782 - 1853)*
  Thomas Owston (1804 - 1874)*
  William Owston (1807 - 1892)*
  James Wilson Owston (1809 - 1858)*
  Frances Janet Owston Sutherland (1815 - 1902)*
  Charles Paget Herbert Owston (1817 - 1858)*
  Mary Ann Margaret Owston Smith (1819 - 1909)*
  Euphemia Owston Smith (1824 - 1892)*
  John Gillon Owston (1826 - 1901)*
*Calculated relationship
Old Anglican Cemetery
St. Marys
Perth County
Ontario, Canada
Created by: Dr. James M. Owston
Record added: Nov 18, 2008
Find A Grave Memorial# 31517043
William Owston
Added by: Dr. James M. Owston
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- Deborah Barber
 Added: Mar. 14, 2016

- Donna B.
 Added: Apr. 11, 2015

- Rich Vance
 Added: Oct. 21, 2014
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