John Owens (1790–1846), Manchester
John Owens was the son of Owen Owens, a prosperous cotton merchant from Holywell, Flinthsire. Their company, Owen Owens and Son, was to be one of the most important in the cotton industry.
Owens left a bequest of £96,942 to found an educational institution for the instruction of young men, resulting in the establishment of Owens College in 1851. Owens objected to the dominate role that the Church of England played in education, and decided that admission to his proposed college would be on non-sectarian lines.
In 1880, Owens College become England's first civic university, The Victoria University of Manchester. It is now Manchester University.
His will stated:
"The institution shall be open to all applicants for admission without respect to place of birth, and without distinction of rank or condition in society."