Finding the dead and searching for the living

Aug 3rd, 2012 | By | Category: Personal Columns

Eccentric activities sometimes become a preoccupation!

Model Steam Locomotives  was among a bundle of books acquired at an auction. It was presented to R.H.S. Roe as the mathematics prize at Saint Columba’s College, Dublin in the summer of 1923 and it seems right it should be passed to one of his descendants. Another book in the bundle was  stamped Streamstown House, Streamstown, Co Westmeath.

Were the Roe family from Streamstown? Indeed they were.

The 1911 Census website revealed:

Roe Richard Westropp           43        Male                Head of Family           Church of Ireland
Roe Annie Mary                         40       Female           Wife                                 Church of Ireland
Roe Richard Henry Somers   2          Male                Son                                   Church of Ireland

So R.H.S stood for ‘Richard Henry Somers’, a name which made searching easier. The newspaper archive of the National Library of Australia provided details of Richard’s marriage in London in 1939,

The marriage will be quietly celebrated on November 29 at St Mark’s, in St John’s Wood London, of Aileen, younger daughter of Mr. J. E. Pennefather, Davis Street, Kew, to Richard Somers-Roe, of Streamstown House, Streamstown, Westmeath, Ireland.

Did Richard survive the war?

In 1950, the London Gazette carries  a notice regarding the death of Jane Mary Lemon of 234, Lauderdale Mansions, Maida Vale, London who died on 31st August 1950. The column headed, ‘Names, addresses and descriptions of Persons to whom notices of claims are to be given and names in parentheses, of Personal Representatives’ shows:

T. E. Crocker & Son, 9, Lauderdale Drive, Petersham, Surrey, Solicitors. (Midland Bank Executor & Trustee Co. Ltd. and Richard Henry Somers Roe.)

The bid to find a home for Model Steam Locomotives progresses.

Sometimes it is easier to find the dead than the living.

In 1979, my friend Arthur was moving to London to work. Work was scarce, wages were low, and accommodation was not easy to find. His temporary address was in a place called Bushey in Hertfordshire. He sent a postcard to the student residence in which I was staying saying to meet him at a pub in Fleet Street.

At five o’clock on an autumn Thursday evening I went into a bar busy with journalists who still frequented the area in those days, there was no sign of Arthur. Buying a drink, I lingered for some fifteen minutes or so before going to stand in the street in the hope of catching sight of him approaching the bar. It was almost an hour before I finally abandoned hope of Arthur arriving.

The next day I bought a postcard and wrote that I was sorry I had missed him and would he write again. The only address was the one at which he had said he was staying until he found somewhere permanent. I stuck a first class stamp on the card and posted it near Mount Pleasant sorting office, hoping this would hasten its journey.

I never heard from Arthur again.

It is odd to make so much progress in the search for R.H.S. Roe, born in 1909 and being unable to find anything on Arthur Greaves, born fifty years later.



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  1. The rise of social networking has made ‘finding’ or looking people up a lot easier. Something with which I guess you may be familiar, is discovering that more than a few school friends have passed on; this may due to the nature of the school – but is very sad.

  2. I don’t know if this is relevant to your “Somers-Roe” search, but as you will gather I am now advancing in years but may have a link to assist your search. In 1959 I commenced work in a stockbroking office here in dublin. One of our clients was a (quote) Mrs.Aileen Florence Somers-Roe of Streamstown House, Streamstown, County Westmeath, Ireland. I presumed she was a widow, but during our conversations I discovered she had been a nurse before her marriage. She was a large, kindly and chatty lady and I enjoyed her all prevading energy when she visited our office!

    Just a few thoughts to add to the Somers-Roe saga!


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