John Aloysius Ryan (1899-1940)

My grandfather, John Aloysius Ryan, was born in the Transvaal (South Africa) on 23 June 1999. His parents were John Ryan (1855-1916) from Tipperary (Ireland) and Eliza Alice McCormick (1863-1949) from Cork (Ireland).

Arrival in England

John and his parents, brother and sisters arrived in England in 1909. John and his brothers James and Charles attended Beaumont College, a catholic school in Windsor (Berkshire), and were there in 1911. I don’t know what happened to John between 1911 and 1932.

Curiously, in a will made in 1925, John’s brother James did not leave anything to John. Perhaps the 2 had fallen out.

And I haven’t found John in the 1921 census.


John married my grandmother, Violetta Evelyn Bird in September 1932. My grandparents’ wedding certificate says he was a motor engineer, and my great uncle told me once that John invented some sort of wheel.

Their only child, my mother, Evelyn Anne Ryan, was born in February 1933.  As far as I know, my grandparents never lived together.  My mother said her father used to take her out every week, but she didn’t know he was her father until several years after he died. 

Rowton house in 1939

The 1939 register shows John R Ryan, supposedly single, living at 220 Arlington Road (St Pancras), a Rowton House. Although the middle initial is wrong and he wasn’t in fact single, the same address is listed on his death certificate. His occupation was given as automatic telephone exchange tester. (By a strange coincidence, my father, born in 1933, later became a telephone engineer.) Rowton houses were a kind of hostel for poor single men.


John died on 24 October 1940 in the National Temperance Hospital of ‘war operations’, presumably a bomb raid as this was the height of the Blitz  His address was given as 220 Arlington Road. He is buried in St Pancras cemetery (in East Finchley), where he is named (as John Ryan) on a memorial to the civilians of St Pancras who died during the wars. There is an article about the hospital at

St. Pancras Civilian War Memorial

John Ryan’s will

His will dated 2 October 1934. stated that his executors were to add a moiety [I presume that means a half] of the estate for the benefit and maintenance of his daughter Anne Evelyn Ryan [typo for Evelyn Anne Ryan] of 55 St Raphael’s Way, Neasden, London until she was to reach the age of 21, or upon her earlier marriage. At that time, the executors were to hand over both moieties of the estate to her for her absolute use and benefit. If she were to die or marry before the age of 21, then half of the estate was to get to John Ryan’s wife (Violet Evelyn Bird) and the other half was to be shared between his surviving siblings. The estate was valued at £2,815.

On the name Aloysius

According to Wikipedia: Aloysius is a Latinisation of the names Alois, Louis, Lewis, Luigi, Ludwig and other cognate names (traditionally in medieval Latin as Ludovicus or Chlodovechus), ultimately from Frankish *Hlūdawīg, from Proto-Germanic *Hlūdawīgą (‘famous battle’).

Note on sources

Birth place from 1911 census

Date of birth from 1939 register (though death certificate gives his age as 40, which should be 41 if the date of birth is accurate)

4 thoughts on “John Aloysius Ryan (1899-1940)

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