James Rorke

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Re: James Rorke

Postby mike snook » 08 Aug 2008 01:20

David

That's interesting background.

On the civilian point, yes, quite right, but if you were the regular army you wouldn't employ a 20 year old I fancy.....except in extremis of course .... so whilst I have reservations on balance of probability grounds, I agree it can't be ruled out. If he was 20....!!!!

As ever

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Re: James Rorke

Postby DavidB » 09 Aug 2008 10:13

"An Irish regiment landed at Mossel Bay in 1821......... and 2 brothers and a cousin named Rorke were serving in the ranks. One of the brothers stayed in the Cape Colony after his service expired - or he may have simply deserted - and there he married and there his son James was born in 1827."

Thought I'd also try to look into the first part of this statement, and wouldn't you know, none of the Irish regiments were anywhere near South Africa in 1821. Another piece of received wisdom looks dubious. :roll:
If I take the year 1821 at face value, then there were only 2 British regiments that landed in SA in that year: 6th (Warwickshire) Foot and the 55th (Westmorland) Foot. The 6th were there from 1821-25 and the 55th from 1821-30.
Widening the dates a bit further, the next most likely regiments are the 49th Foot (1823-28), 54th (1819-22) & 98th (1824-37)

If I was anywhere near Kew the next step would be to look at the muster rolls of these regiments at the time and look for soldiers called Rorke (or Rourke if you allow for spelling variations). But since I'm nowhere near Kew :( , any suggestions where I can go from here?

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Re: James Rorke

Postby mike snook » 09 Aug 2008 11:46

David

Don't go anywhere from there - I've asked around my chums on rdvc.com and the latest appears to be that three brothers Rorke emigrated to SA from Co Galway, one of whom was the father of James (later born in SA). This I believe is based on Ian Knight's research. Whether the father was an ex-soldier or not I don't know. It wasn't uncommon for people to discharge at home and then at some later point return as immigrants to a place they had served in whilst in uniform - but in this particular case I emphasise that is speculative.

James's gravestone at RD and erected by his BBG conrades shows only the Christian name James and indicates that he was 48 when he died on Oct 24 1875. That means he was born in 1827.

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Re: James Rorke

Postby DavidB » 09 Aug 2008 14:39

Hi again Mike,
Yes I've just looked again at Ian Knight's book (not sure why it didn't occur to me before).
That's certainly the story he gives and I agree it sounds plausible enough.
But (and I certainly don't mean any disrespect to Ian here) it's far from clear from the book what primary sources he's used to come up with that story as a conclusion. And without that primary evidence it's a bit difficult to say anything other than that it's another plausible yet unsubstantiated account of Jim Rorke (and we already know there are many).
And even Ian doesn't tell us for sure whether his father was supposedly a soldier or not.

We should also be careful of using his gravestone at RD as incontrovertible evidence. That shows that he was simply known as James in his lifetime by his comrades in the BBG, not necessarily that James Rorke was his full name. The age given could be more reliable though as it does seem to be very specific.
There are plenty of people out there (some of my relatives included) who are known all the time by a middle name. It's only when you happen to see their full names on official documents that you remember their full names :) . And official documents would have been much more scarce in Natal in the mid 19th century!

Don't go anywhere from there

So I have to disagree with you there. The story is still far from definitive. :)
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Re: James Rorke

Postby mike snook » 10 Aug 2008 01:59

David

Sure. Don't disagree with anything you've said about gravestones and so on. I was trying to save you looking through muster rolls on the basis that they may have been straight immigrants. The source is everything of course and I have never seen anything definitive. Maybe you'll crack it.

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Re: James Rorke

Postby lesleycarl » 30 Sep 2008 18:42

Hi David and Mike!
Have just been reading through your threads and am very fascinated!!
Have just started researching James Rorke as I grew up being told he was one of our ancesters. The men with the know and the info were my grandfather and father but they are now gone and I have no idea what happened to the paperwor/ research that was done many many years ago, although they (all ex-military) were very proud. Now as for the alternate spellings that is very true we are O'Rourkes now this was (as I am led to believe how we all started out and then we find a mixture in our line of roarke, Rorke and Rourke (my great great grandfather dropped the O and my great grandfather added it again. Wasn't the done thing in Victorian society to be overtly Irish!! I would love to know if it is correct and will let you know if I locate any concrete info!!
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Re: James Rorke

Postby Isandlwana » 13 Nov 2008 21:38

Lesley,

Any idea if he had a brother named Richard who was commissioned in the Cape Mounted Riflemen in the early 1850's?

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Re: James Rorke

Postby mike snook » 15 Nov 2008 00:16

Hello Lesley

Just a belated note to say that I missed your note of September until now and didn't want you to think I'd ignored you. Interesting about the spelling. It would be good to get to the bottom of Jim's story wouldn't it.

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Re: James Rorke

Postby Isandlwana » 15 Nov 2008 15:02

Here's the reason for my recent posting.

Image

Richard Rorke, originally commissioned into the C.M.R., transferred to the West Indian Regiment and transferred finally to the 11th Regiment, then serving in King William's Town, Cape Colony, where he retired in the 1860's.

There, in my opinion, is more that a passing resemblance between this officer and the published image of Jim Rorke.

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Re: James Rorke

Postby Charonne » 08 Feb 2011 15:26

Hi,

I too am interested in more information about James Rorke. I'm researching my family genealogy and have reason to believe that he is one of my ancestors. Apparently my great grandfather, Charles Victor Hosken, married James Rorke's grand daughter, Natalie Carter. If anyone has any info, or can point me in the right direction as to books or research material, I would be most grateful.

TIA.
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