Mr Edward Pomeroy Colley

Edward Pomeroy Colley

Mr Edward Pomeroy Colley was born in Celbridge, Co Kildare, Ireland on 15 April 1875.

He came from a well-to-do Anglo-Irish Church of Ireland family and his parents were Henry Fitzgeorge Colley (b. 1827), a magistrate and landowner, and Elizabeth Isabella Wingfield (b. 1832) who had married in Abbeyleix, Queen's County (modern-day Co Laois) on 12 August 1858 before seemingly settling in Lucan, Dublin where several of their children were born.

Edward's known siblings were: Elizabeth Maria (1860-1895, later Mrs Frederick Selwyn Copleston), Florence Isabella (1864-1912, later Mrs Henry Cole Bowen), George Pomeroy Arthur (1866-1933), Laura Emily (1867-1942), William Wingfield (1868-1947), Gerald Henry Pomeroy (1870-1924), Constance Helena (1871-1912) and Gertrude Theodosia (1873-1934, later Mrs Alberic Arthur Twisleton-Wykeham-Fiennes).

The Colley family had established itself in Ireland in the 16th century and served under Henry VIII through Elizabeth I. His grandfather, George Francis Colley (1797-1879) was a commander in the Royal Navy and was the third son of the 4th Viscount Harberton, John Pomeroy (1758-1833). His uncle George Pomeroy Colley (1835-1881) was a highly decorated British Army Officer who became the Governor and Commander-in-Chief of Natal and High Commissioner for South Eastern Africa. He was later killed by Boers in 1881. Edward, through his sister Gertrude, is the great-great-uncle of actors Joseph and Ralph Fiennes; they are the grandsons of Gertrude's son Maurice (1907-1994), an English industrialist. By his sister Florence he is the uncle of Anglo-Irish novelist Elizabeth Bowen (1899-1973).

It is believed that Edward grew up in Mount Temple, Dublin. His father died on 24 November 1886 and his mother on 18 November 1903, both in Dublin. His elder sister Elizabeth, who married a civil servant based in India, died in 1895.

A graduate of Dublin University and a civil engineer, during the Klondike Gold Rush Colley opened a mining brokerage firm in Vancouver, British Columbia and successfully speculated in mining stocks and surveyed Yukon for miners. He had business interests on both sides of the Atlantic and frequently travelled between Dublin and a home on Vancouver Island in Victoria's affluent English Bay neighbourhood. He remained unmarried but it is believed he had affection for a lady in Victoria but feared his family would disapprove the match.

He appears on the 1901 Canadian census as a lodger in Victoria, British Columbia following which he appears on the 1911 Irish census living at the home of his deaf brother George, a landowner and magistrate, at a house on Orwell Road in Rathmines, Dublin. Later that year he travelled back across the Atlantic aboard Lusitania, arriving in New York on 14 April 1911. He is believed to have returned to Ireland for Christmas 1911. Whilst still in Ireland his sister Constance, an unmarried medical practitioner working in Oxfordshire, died on 15 February 1912 and was buried in Folkestone, Kent two days later; he possibly journeyed to England to help settle her estate 1 and it seems he remained there until April 1912. A few days before sailing he went to see the George Bernard Shaw play Man and Superman in the West End.

Colley planned to return to Vancouver to work as a consultant to the prominent British Columbia industrialist James Dunsmuir. He prepaid £19, 11s, 9d for first class ticket number 17387, and then had to pay a final of £6 for his contract ticket number 5727. Presumably, because of season-changing2. He boarded the Titanic at Southampton and occupied cabin E-58. Whilst aboard he wrote a letter to his sister-in-law Edith, the wife of his brother George.

...This is a huge ship. Unless lots of people get on at Cherbourg and Queenstown they'll never half fill it. The dining room is low ceilinged but full of little tables for two, three and more in secluded corners. How I wish someone I liked was on board but then nice people don't sit at tables for two unless they're engaged or married. I wonder my blue blood didn't tell me that? ... They also have a restaurant where you can pay for meals if you get bored with the ordinary grub. Our most distinguished passengers seem to be WT Stead, Astor, ... Oh and the Countess of Something, but her blood is only blue black. (Give me good red corpuscles, I seem to know more about them). We nearly had a collision to start with coming out of Southampton. We passed close to a ship that was tied up alongside the Oceanic and the suction of our ship drew her out into the stream and snapped the ropes that held her and round she swung across our bows! She had no steam up so had to be pulled back by tugs and we had to reverse. The name of her was the New York in case you see it in the papers. It proves conclusively the case of the Hawke and Olympic...

On board he and four other men attached themselves to American socialite Mrs Helen Candee and the group became known as her "coterie." Little is known about Colley, but one passenger recalls he was "a roly poly Irishman who laughed a lot but said little." On the night of the sinking he attended a concert in the first class reception area on D-Deck and retired to his cabin just after 11 pm.

On the morning of the sinking, 15 April, Mr Colley turned 37. He was lost in the disaster and his body, if recovered, was never identified.

A month later, on 25 May 1912, the Tipperary Star reported that Colley's brother, George:

 "... is about to proceed to British Columbia to look after the estates of Major Edward Pomeroy Colley who was one of the heroes who sacrificed his life for others in the terrible Titanic disaster...when the sad news that he had paid the penalty of his heroism with the foundering of the monster liner was made known, all creeds and classes in Tipperary and the surrounding district tendered their sympathetic condolences to a popular gentleman in a most trying time."

George Colley travelled across the Atlantic aboard Adriatic, departing from Liverpool on 5 July 1912.

Edward's sister Florence died five months later on 23 September 1912. His brother George Pomeroy died in Dublin on 23 February 1933. Several of his siblings died in London; Gerald on 12 November 1923, George Henry Pomeroy on 23 February 1924; and Gertrude on 12 November 1934. His sister Laura spent her final days as a spinster in Harpenden, Hertfordshire where she died on 26 February 1942. His last surviving sibling was his brother William who had become a congregational minister; he died in London on 7 April 1947.

Notes

  1. Constance, as a doctor, seemingly worked out of Kingswood Sanatorium on Peppard Common in Oxfordshire. Upon her death her estate, valued at £3628, 16s, 10d, was bequeathed to her brothers George Pomeroy Colley and George Henry Pomeroy Colley, R.M.
  2. One source (AH) suggests he paid £28 10 shillings for a second class cabin, but on board paid another £6 to be upgraded to First Class.
 
 

Pictures

Edward Pomeroy Colley
EDWARD POMEROY COLLEY
 

Comment and discuss

  1. Richard Coplen said:

    Hey all, I am absolutely in shock at the mo. I am in university at the moment and was just doing some research for a history project on the landed gentry or aristocracy of Ireland. The family I have chosen to study were called King-Harman and once owned much of the land in the Midlands of Ireland where I live. While going through "Burke's Peerage" I discovered that the family was related to the Pomeroy-Colleys of Castle Carbery in Co. Kildare (not too far from my university). I came across Edward Pomeroy-Colley's name - he being the same first-class passenger that went down with the... Read full post

  2. avatar

    Kyrila Scully said:

    Richard, I believe there's a whole other thread about this topic elsewhere. On a side note, when I get to work today, I'll see what else I can find for you as I work at the Historical Research Center which specializes in onomastics. All the best, Kyrila

  3. Richard Coplen said:

    Hey again, This just gets better and better! While further researching the Pomeroy-Colleys and their estate of Castle Carbery in the Irish county of Kildare, I discovered that Edward Pomeroy-Colley was directly descended from Arthur Wellesly - the Duke of Wellington, who like the Titanic passenger was also born in Castle Carbery. For those of you that don't realise the Duke of Wellington's significance - it was he that defeated Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo and sent the infamous dictator into exile. He was also a prime minister of Britain. I can't believe how many famous ancestors and... Read full post

  4. Turtle Bunbury said:

    Edward Pomeroy Colley Edward Pomeroy Colley was an uncle of my grandmother Noreen Colley. I believe he was born and raised at Mount Temple, Ireland. Mount Temple later became a comprehensive school and is where Bono of U2 was educated. Indeed, it was the first place where U2 ever played a gig � a messy ten minute affair in January 1976 consisting solely of cover versions! Edie (nee Finlay), known in the family as Baba, was Edward�s sister-in-law, married to his elder brother George Colley. They started their married life a Faunaugh on 75 Orwell Road in Rathgar, a... Read full post

  5. Susan Alby said:

    Hi Turtle- Thanks for posting such a fascinating candid letter written by your Great (Great?) Uncle. How old was he at the time of his death, I am going to guess maybe 25-30? As a "blue blood" it seems as though he felt quite trapped or a bit constrained amid the social confines of Victorian/Edwardian society. >>How I wish someone I liked was on board but then nice people don't sit at tables for two unless they're engaged or married. I wonder my blue blood didn't tell me that?

  6. Turtle Bunbury said:

    Hi Susan, I'm not sure what age he was actually but one of these days I'll get around to looking into him more thoroughly! All the best, Turtle

  7. Lester Mitcham said:

    Susan, Are you asking how old Edward Pomeroy Colley was when he died? Looking at his biography on this web-site he was born on 15 April 1875. So he died on his 37th birthday.

  8. Senan Molony said:

    That letter is detailed in my book, which has plenty more on Colley's illustrious bloodline, which also goes to the battle of Majuba Heights in South Africa. Here is a picture of a woman whose name and details I had better withhold, displaying the said letter.

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  9. Susan Alby said:

    How terribly sad for him to have died so young on his birthday. He seemed to have been a bit ahead of his time in social attitudes towards women. I can see how he might have enjoyed the company of Helen Candee Churchill, being a more mature woman without the need of a chaperone. Must say with her "coterie" of men on board, she must have been a very striking lady! Is there any account of a passenger seeing him on deck after the collision? He must have been made aware of the situation, although even if he had gone up on deck that would probably have not changed his fate.

  10. Turtle Bunbury said:

    Thomas Pakenham goes into some detail about Major General Sir George Colley and the battle of Majuba in "Scramble for Africa". He suggests that Colley, like General Custer at Little Big Horn six years earlier, was gambling that he could rout the Boers and put an end to their uprisings against the British in the Transvaal. He made a fatal error, and the Boers wiped his Highland regiment out on Feb 27th 1881. In fact it is hardly worthy of the name "battle". The Boers marksmen simply lay in hiding along the roadside, and each took an officer or a soldier in his sights. It was all over in a... Read full post

  11. Martin Williams said:

    I enjoyed reading Edward P. Colley's recently auctioned Titanic letter immensely. Like the one sent from the ship by Frank Millet, it provides an invaluable window into the experience of sailing on the maiden voyage, the incident at Southampton with the New York and various topical concerns of the day (he even references a performance he's seen of G.B. Shaw's play, Man and Superman). Colley's tone of light-hearted excitement, mingled with dry and self-deprecating humour, is very winning - and made all the more poignant with the knowledge that he is destined to die only days later. It is... Read full post

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Credits

Gavin Bell, UK
Alan Hustak
Hermann Söldner

References and Sources

Alan Hustak (1999) Titanic: The Canadian Story. Véhicule Press. ISBN 1 55065 113 7
Irish Independent, 21 August 2006
Search archive Irish newspapers online

Link and cite this biography

Encyclopedia Titanica (2018) Edward Pomeroy Colley (ref: #76, last updated: 25th September 2018, accessed 4th June 2020 17:51:29 PM)
URL : https://www.encyclopedia-titanica.org/titanic-victim/edward-pomeroy-colley.html