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.