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Richard Roe Letters to John Thelwell


Held at: Princeton University Library: Manuscripts Division [Contact Us]

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the Princeton University Library: Manuscripts Division. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.

Overview and metadata sections

Roe, Richard, 1765-1853.

Richard Baillie Roe, Irish stenographer and writer, was the son of James Roe of Grantstown, County of Tiperary, Ireland. Roe was interested in the principles of order and harmony in their application to music, poetry, linguistics, and theology. His career started as a church cleric. He later became disenchanted with religion in Ireland and entered into business. However, he did not succeed as a merchant and lost all of his money. He started a teaching academy, but that, too, was doomed to failure. He then traveled to London, partnered with a bookseller, and engaged in selling books, another career in which he did not succeed. In 1802, Roe started tutoring students in Dublin. In 1800-1801 his first book, Elements of English Metre Both in Prose and Verse, was both printed and published by him in London. He did not want to give another publisher the rights to his book; as a result the book was not very successful in this first edition. Other books written by Roe include The Principles of Rhythmn Both in Speech and Music, and Radiography, or a System of Easy Writing (1823).

John Thelwell was an author during the "Romantic period" of writing in the late 18th and early 19th centuries.

The collection consists of eighteen autograph letters by Richard Roe to John Thelwell, dating from 14 June 1805 to 1 September 1808. Mailed from Ireland or South Wales to Thelwell in Liverpool or London, the letters mention several of Roe's books, including Elements of English Metre, and contain several references to Thelwell's lectures published in Monthly Magazine. Often Roe includes music, poetry, odes, and Greek words as means of demonstrating his theories, as well as autobiographical information. He also discusses his manuscripts which he sends to Thelwell for advice before their publication. In a letter dated 21 July 1806, Roe writes about all his business endeavors and failures, claiming that the tutoring job that he had was ending in the winter, after which time he will be destitute with a wife and five children. In a letter dated 16 August 1806 he admits that he is "according to the vulgar saying, a Jack of all trades and master of none." He also talks about his new system of shorthand which he published in his book A New System of Shorthand (1802). On 22 December 1806 Roe informs Thelwell that a mutual friend, "Mr. Cottle," will be offering him a position which will "bring me to your side of the water." On 18 February 1807 he writes from Wales that his whole family arrived there on the 27th [January]. In the same letter Roe thanks Thelwell for mentioning in an article in Monthly Magazine the upcoming publication of Roe's latest book. The last two letters, dated 1 August 1808 and 1 September 1808, constitute one long letter.

Folders are arranged by date.

The letters were removed from an 1801 edition of Roe's Elements of English Metre which was purchased by Princeton Univeristy Library in 1944.

This collection was processed by Dina Britain on July 16, 2007. Finding aid written by Traci Ballou-Broadnax on June 16, 2007. Folder Inventory added by Hilde Creager (2015) in 2012.

No appraisal information is available.

Manuscripts Division
Finding Aid Date
Access Restrictions

The collection is open for research.

Use Restrictions

Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. No further photoduplication of copies of material in the collection can be made when Princeton University Library does not own the original. Inquiries regarding publishing material from the collection should be directed to RBSC Public Services staff through the Ask Us! form. The library has no information on the status of literary rights in the collection and researchers are responsible for determining any questions of copyright.

Collection Inventory

Letters, 1805-1808. 2 folders.
Physical Description

2 folders

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