End of the Line: The South Shields Owstons

· End of the Line Series

During the last century, numerous Owston and Ouston lineages have ceased to continue to propagate the surname.  One complete family branch, 21 lines, and four sub-lines (that I call segments) of Owstons and Oustons saw the death of these lineages’ last surnamed males between 1902 and 2001.

The Owston/Ouston One-Name Study begins a feature called “The End of the Line” that will identify and provide a short biography of these “end of the line” males as well as others who saw the surname to its conclusion.  While descendants may still exist to the present, no individuals bearing the Owston or Ouston surnames are currently alive in these lineages.

The first in our feature is the South Shields Line which became extinct of Owston surnamed males in 1902.   What makes this lineage interesting is that the final two males both passed in 1902; however, the surname continued for another 56 years through their sister who never married.  Descended from the Scarborough Branch of the Sherburn Owston family, the South Shields Line was descended as follows:

SouthShieldsThe Scarborough Branch of the Sherburn Family began with Christopher Owston (b. circa 1590) who settled in that city during the 1620s. Over the centuries, this branch produced numerous mariners and some colorful figures in the surname’s history.  By the 1770s, the original Christopher Owston’s second great grandson, also named Christopher, had moved to South Shields at the mouth of the River Tyne.

We have identified the progeny of Christopher Owston (b. 1735) as the South Shields Line – although descendents would shortly move beyond that city’s borders into other areas of Durham and Northumberland. South Shields, which is now part of the county of Tyne and Wear, was located in Durham County at the time

The final two males of this line were brothers Robert Edward Owston and Thomas William Owston – sons of Edward Owston (1847-1894) and Isabella Keen (1841-1891).  Edward was a superintendent for the Prudential Insurance Company; however, neither of his sons were business professionals.  Robert, who was born in the first quarter of 1872 at Castle Eden, Durham, was employed as draper’s assistant.  Thomas, who was born in the fourth quarter of 1876 in Station Town, Durham, was a grocery clerk.  Neither brother married nor did they produce any known children.

Robert was the first to die and passed during the third quarter of 1902 at the age of 30.  His younger brother Thomas died during the fourth quarter of the same year at 26.  While their causes of death are not known, the brothers at the time of their demise lived with their sister, Barbara Elizabeth Owston, at 2 Mowbray Street in the North Ward of the City of Durham. Barbara was born in Castle Eden during the fourth quarter of 1874.

Following the death of her brothers, the lone South Shields Line survivor supported herself as a lady’s maid.  Unlike her siblings and parents who died fairly young, she lived to ripe old age of 83 and died in 1958.  Although not a male, Barbara Elizabeth Owston was the last descendant of the South Shields line to bear the surname.

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