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Photo of Percy Harold Rooney

Percy Harold Rooney

Chief Staff Assistant
Birthplace London Dalston England Date of Birth: April 22, 1877 Date of Death: September 24, 1956


Full name of worker at H.M. Factory Gretna (and any other names they are known by) : Percy Harold Rooney
Gender: Male
Date and place of birth: 22nd April 1877 , Dalston, London ( Hackney)
Date and Place of Death: 24th September 1956, Sanderstead , Surrey
Nationality: English

Childhood: No detail.
Parents: Dennis Henry Rooney and Ethel nee Trutch
Parents occupations: Civil servant, Superintendent London Post Offices
Schools / universities attended and years of attendance:  Not known
Occupation: Began as a clerk then became a Managing director of a company ( merchants)  Occ. At Gretna was Chief staff assistant until  Christmas 1918
Place of residence at Gretna: Not known
Marital status: Married
Children: 3 daughters- Norah Eileen, Kathleen Mary and Patricia Doreen
Travels: None known
Awards/recognitions: None known 


Percy Harold Rooney 1877-1956 


Percy Harold Rooney was born on 22nd April 1877  at Dalston, London ( Hackney) to Dennis Henry Rooney and Maria nee Rayfield. His  baptism at Holy Trinity Church , Dalston in July 1877 is documented in the Church baptismal register. 

Maria’s father was a farmer in 1871 “ of 6 acres employing 2 labourers”. There is no father evident in either the 1851 or subsequent censuses for Dennis , his mother Elenor is head of the house and occupied with laundry. 

Percy was the eldest of 5 children, 3 sons and 2 daughters. In April 1878 brother Reginald Rayfield Rooney was born in Hackney,  a sister Grace Marion arrived in April 1881 also in Hackney , Winifred Alice was born in Merton, Surrey in 1885 and finally Cecil Rudolph in 1891 also in Merton.  

In the 1881 census , Percy is listed as a 3 year old visitor at a 45, Ashburton Grove,  Islington, the home of Charles and Louisa Waghorn. No familial link to this family has been found but Percy was absent from his own household when his sister Grace arrived at the same time as the census. The 1891 census for the rest of the family list  Dennis, Percy’s father, at this time as a “clerk G.P.O.” The family are living at 8, Mountford Road, Hackney. 

Between 1881 and 1885 when Grace Marion was born the family must have moved out of London to Merton. The address given in the 1891 census is 23 Fairlawn Villas, Kingston Road, Merton,( Surrey).  

Dennis now 40 is a Civil servant, assistant superintendent, London Postal Services. Maria is 40, Percy now 15 is a scholar, as are Reginald, 13 , Grace 10 and Winifred 6. Cecil is 11 months old. The family also employ Amelia Moss 18 as a nursemaid/domestic servant. 

In the next 10 years by the time of the 1901 census the Rooney family have moved again. They are now living at “ The Prospect”, Kingston Road, Merton. Dennis now 50 is listed as a Chief civil servant, superintendent, passed service which presumably means retired. We learn that Percy’s mother Maria had been born at East Farleigh. She is also 50. Percy aged 23 is still at home working as a “ledger clerk ( wheelery)”. Winifred 16 and Cecil , 10 are both scholars. Grace is not included . They also have a 17 year old female visitor and an 18 year old general domestic servant.  

20 year old Grace is listed as a visitor living in a house in Lewisham, London and working as a Civil servant. The actual area of her work is indecipherable. It appears that she is living with three sisters aged 19 ( head of household), 16 and 13.  

On 17th August 1901, 24 year old Percy Harold Rooney , commercial clerk, married 21 year old Ethel Trutch of 19, Courthope Villa, Wimbledon. They married in the Parish of Wimbledon. Percy has no address registered on the marriage banns. Ethel’s father’s occupation is “ Press Reader”. In earlier censuses he had been a compositor so he was clearly in the press printing trade. 


Ethel had been born on 18th May 1880 at 27, Great Corman Street, Bloomsbury to Frank William Trutch and Ellen Amery. Ethel was the eldest of 3 children and the great niece on her her father’s side of Sir Jospeh William Trutch, KCMG , “an English born Canadian engineer , surveyor and politician who served as the first Lieutenant Governor of British Colombia.” ( Wikipedia) 

The 1891 census shows that the Trutch family have moved to 20 Thornton Road , Wimbledon and then to Courthope Villa by 1901. 

Also in 1901, Percy’s brother Reginald sailed to Durban , South Africa. Passenger lists show him as a bank clerk. He lived at Buena Vista, S Coast Junction, Durban. Following his death on 2nd May 1902 aged 24, probate was granted to Dennis,  the father. He left effects of £100. 

In 1902 Ethel gave birth to their first daughter, Norah Eileen ,who was baptised at St Mary’s Wimbledon on 13th July 1902. The Baptismal record proudly lists Percy’s occupation as ‘Gentleman’ of 2 Queen’s Mill Terrace, Fulham. It appears that Norah was baptised at the church where Percy and Ethel had married the previous year.  

Six years later in 1908 a second daughter, Kathleen Mary was born in Fulham.  

The 1911 census for 332 Fulham Palace Road, London lists Percy as 33, now “secretary to a limited company ( merchants)”, Ethel 30, They have 5 rooms, all children born have survived and Norah is now 9 and Kathleen 3. 

On 3rd December 1912 their third daughter was born , Patricia Doreen. She was baptised at Holy Trinity Church Wallington, Surrey . The family now live at “ Holmwood” Blenheim Gardens, Wallington. Percy is listed in the baptismal register as a Secretary. 

There are no further records of this family until late 1918. We know from a detailed report in the Dumfries and Galloway Standard of 25th December 1918 that Mr P H Rooney was leaving his post shortly as Chief Staff Assistant at H M Factory Gretna. Both the Staff and Labour departments met at the Staff club to make a joint presentation to him of a crystal salad bowl and silver servers. Percy would have been 41 at the time. It is highly probable that whilst serving at H M Factory Gretna, Ethel his wife accompanied him although there is no mention of her in the presentation report. A shorter version appeared in the Southern Reporter of 26th December 1918. Their daughters could also have been there aged 16, 10 and 6.  

It is not clear what his role as Chief  staff assistant comprised of but there is a hint that it would have been in the  field of labour exchange/labour recruitment. 

The newspaper report also tells us that Percy is returning to his own firm.  

Percy’s father Dennis had died on 4th October 1918 , just prior to his work at Gretna being completed . 

Eldest daughter Norah married Gerald Soul Bunce, a bank official, in 1929. It does not appear that they had any children. Percy’s mother died a couple of years later in 1931. 

The next evidence to be found of Percy and Ethel is the reporting of the forthcoming marriage in the Staffordshire Advertiser of 30th May 1935 of their youngest daughter Patricia Doreen of Wallington to Peter Gordon Masefield. Peter was later knighted for services to Aviation ( Wikipedia) They had three children between 1938 and 1943 and spent quite a lot of time in Washington DC whilst Peter worked at the Embassy. Peter was related to John Masefield the poet.  ( Wikipedia). Although Percy and Ethel now have grand children it appears that the children spent much of their early childhood abroad.  

Kathleen married in 1937, William George Cowlard. It does not appear they had any children either. 

The 1939 register shows further promotion for Percy who is now a Managing Director of a general merchants company. He is also an ARP warden. ( walking). He and Ethel are living at Suncourt , Wallington . 

Electoral registers from 1945 to 1956 place them still in Wallington , latterly at Suncourt, 12, Woodcote Avenue.  

Sadly, Ethel died aged 76 on 6th May 1956 at Suncourt , Wallington, leaving effects of £560 to Percy Harold Rooney, Company Director. 

Percy only lived for a further few months dying on 24th September aged 79 at 45 Norfolk Avenue, Sanderstead, Surrey. Probate gives his normal residence as Suncourt and he left effects of £33,677 5s 6d 

Perhaps one of his daughters had taken him under their wing whilst he grieved for Ethel. 

Daughter Patricia and husband Peter lived well into their nineties but died within a month of each other 2006.  




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