Civilian Thomas Robert Roycroft

Civilian Thomas Robert Roycroft (aged 19) of Hazel Lodge, Douglas Road, Cork city (possibly Ballycoreen, off Kinsale Road).

Date of incident: 9 March 1922 (executed by IRA and disappeared)

Sources: Cork Constitution, 14 March 1922; Application of William Roycroft Sr to Irish Grants Committee, 8 March 1928 (CO 762/170/21, TNA); Royal Irish Constabulary Pensions, Class PMG 48/Piece Number 59 (TNA); Murphy (2010), 181-83, Appendix 2; Keane (2017), 370, 423;  https://www.ancestry.com/familytree/person/tree/15353869/person/251880866/facts (accessed 7 March 2018).


Note: Thomas Roycroft went missing at about 8:30 p.m. on the night of 9 March 1922, according to a notice published in the Cork Constitution, which provided information about his address, his age, his physical appearance, and his manner of dress. See CC, 14 March 1922. In his 1928 application to the Irish Grants Committee for compensation, his father William Roycroft Sr asserted that his son Thomas had been killed on 9 March 1922. The father pointed out that as an RIC constable, he had ‘fought all through the trouble in Ireland, being pensioned from that force on the 31st January 1921 after completing 35 years service, [and that he] was fired at after being on pension and ordered to leave the country; also my son Thomas was shot dead in Cork city on the 9[th] March 1922.’ For the killing of his son, he sought £1,000 in compensation, and for the costs associated with the banishment to Bristol of himself, his wife, and another son, he requested almost £1,500 in addition. See Application of William Roycroft Sr to Irish Grants Committee, 8 March 1928 (CO 762/170/21, TNA).

Like his father, Thomas Roycroft was also an RIC constable. He had joined the RIC on 21 August 1920 but was dismissed on disciplinary grounds in June 1921 (he was often absent from barracks). His brother William Roycroft Jr (aged 22 in 1921) was also on the IRA list of enemies. William Jr had served in the British army during the Great War and then worked as an engineer at the electric-power station in Cork city. After he had been employed there for four years, the IRA ordered him to leave the country too, and when he was slow to comply, fired at him on as many as four separate occasions. He eventually left for Belfast, where he worked in the shipyards of Harland and Wolff before finally emigrating to Canada. William Roycroft Jr had been a member of the Cork city Y.M.C.A., detested by the IRA as an anti-republican spy network. See Murphy (2010), 181-83, Appendix 2. Thus the abduction and killing of Thomas Roycroft by the IRA early in March 1922 was part of a vengeful and extended campaign against the whole family. His body was never recovered. It is possible that he is buried at corner of a field in Ballycoreen on edge of the what is now the Alderbrook estate, but was then part of the Bainbridge estate. Three young boys from High Street area were reputedly buried here by the IRA. This information came from Jeremiah Welsh, who lived in a cottage nearby and passed on this information to Colman Ryan (Frankfield House) in the 1980s, at which time Jeremiah worked there.

Thomas Roycroft was born on 18 December 1902. He was then a new addition (he had a twin brother) to the family of RIC Constable William Roycroft Sr and his wife Charlotte. The father and mother (aged 36 and 35 respectively in 1901) resided in that year with four children (three daughters and son William Jr) at house 134 in Douglas village near Cork city. These four children ranged in age from 2 to 7. William Roycroft Jr (aged 2) was then the youngest child, but as previously noted, at the end of 1902 the four children appearing in 1901 census were joined by twin brothers named Thomas Robert and Arthur Ernest Roycroft. (The latter died suddenly on 14 January 1903—less than two months after birth.) All the members of the Roycroft family belonged to the Church of Ireland—at least until William Roycroft Sr, his wife Charlotte, and some of their children fled to Bristol in the aftermath of the abduction and killing of their son Thomas Roycroft in March 1922 and the expulsion from Free State territory of their son William Roycroft Jr. Former RIC Constable William Roycroft Sr died on 15 January 1955 at the age of 89 in Bristol and was buried in Henbury Cemetery there. His wife Charlotte had died in 1942. See https://www.ancestry.com/familytree/person/tree/15353869/person/251880866/facts (accessed 7 March 2018).

William Roycroft Sr was born on 1 February 1865 in Bandon. He and his wife Charlotte had ten children (seven sons and three daughters) between 1894 and 1908. As mentioned previously, one of their sons (the twin named Arthur) died soon after birth, and three other children died very young, including Joseph (less than twelve months in 1900); David (1901-09); and George (1903-04). Five others, however, lived long lives: Mary Elizabeth (1894-1965); Charlotte Catherine (1895-1977); Frances Emily (1897-1991); William Jr (1899-1981); and Cedric Charles (1908-78). The major exception was their eight child and fifth son Thomas Robert Roycroft (1902-22), kidnapped and killed by the IRA. See Royal Irish Constabulary Pensions, Class PMG 48/Piece Number 59 (TNA); https://www.ancestry.com/familytree/person/tree/15353869/person/251880866/facts (accessed 7 March 2018).

The Irish Revolution Project

Scoil na Staire /Tíreolaíocht

University College Cork, Cork,