The Josiah Royce Society

Royce Family Obituaries

In December 2009, Matthew Morris of Calgary, Alberta discovered obituaries of Royce's father, Josiah Royce, Sr. (1812-1888) and of his uncle, Robert Royce (1809-1887), among a collection of family newspaper clippings. One of the obituaries mentions George S. Royce--a brother of Robert and Josiah, Sr.--as living in Everton, Ontario in 1887. Robert's son, also named Josiah Royce, is likewise mentioned as living in Everton at the time.

Mr. Morris describes the origin of these documents, and his discovery of them, as follows:

my great-grandmother on my maternal grandmother's side was Margaret Royce, the however-many-great granddaughter of Robert Royce, who was brother to Josiah Royce Sr., who in turn was the father of your Josiah Royce.

The only reason I know this is that Margaret's mother or grandmother (I'm not sure which) pasted newspaper clippings that interested her in four volumes of books, three of which I currently have access to, and in it were some obituaries for one Josiah Royce, the father of your Josiah Royce.  The papers are in poor condition and I was afraid that they would soon be lost, so I have been transcribing them.  Unfortunately, the names of the papers were not kept.

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Scanned Images of the newspaper clippings

Obituaries of Robert Royce (1887)
Obituaries of Josiah Royce, Sr. (1888)

Transcripts of Obituaries for Josiah Royce, Sr.

Obituary 1:


The sad intelligence of the death of Josiah Royce, brother of the late Robert Royce, of Acton, has just reached the friends in Acton and Eramosa.  Mr. Royce was an Englishman by birth and was born in Ridlington, Rutlansdhire [sic], England, in 1812.  He emigrated to Canada in 1817, his father and mother settling in Dundas.  There he spent his youthful days and grew to manhood, when he went to New York State for two years.  While there he wooed and won his youthful and accomplished bride, an American lady by birth.  After his return there he started for the Far West, making Missouri his objective point.  This was about the year 1848.  He left there for California in 1849, crossed the plains, traveling in the primitive style of the good old days of yore, with a lumber wagon and a yoke of oxen, his wife seated upon a mule holding in her arms an infant of some months.  At the foot of the Sierra Nevada he was obliged to leave his wagon and plod along as best he could.  It took him six months to travel from the Upper Missouri to California.  Over this state he travelled extensively in the capacity of a commercial traveller for the last five years of his active, checkered life.  Indeed so varied and full of stirring incidents is it that it would make a biography of more than ordinary interest.  He leaves a wife and [Note: scanned document ends here] four children to mourn his loss, three daughters and one son [sic] in Canada one brother, George Royce, of Eramosa; two sisters, Mrs. Stevenson of Clinton, and Mrs. C.A. Hall of Everton.  He died on the 23rd day of last June at his beautiful home in Los Gatos, where, as he wrote his sister, he could sit under his own vine and fig tree.  He had attained the age of 76 and was for many years a faithful and devoted member of the Disciples church.

Obituary 2:

(handwritten date June 1888)

Mr. Josiah Royce, who lately died so suddenly at his home in our midst was born in Rutlandshire, England, May 14th, 1812.  His parents emigrated to New York when he was but 4 years of age, and were induced by business offers to proceed still farther west, and finally to settle near Dundas at the head of Lake Ontario, in the Province of Canada West, but not many miles from the north western corner of New York State.
   The parents of Mr. Royce were persons of decided piety, and were prominent among the original members of the First Baptist Church of Dundas, his father being a highly esteemed deacon of that church for many years.  From very early youth Mr. Royce showed much interest in religious reading and conversation.  This naturally led to study of the Bible, and thus he began early in life to lay the foundation for that familiarity with scripture which in later life enabled him to recite from memory, passage after passage upon the same subject, beginning often with the earliest prophesies, and adding quotation after another bearing upon the same points until he ended the book of Revelations.  While still quite young he was immersed by the Rev. Mr. Clotton pastor of the Dundas Baptist Church and united with that society; continuing in that membership until he removed several years afterwards to the State of New York, and thence, still later, to Iowa.  On the last day of April 1849 Mr. Royce with his wife and one infant child left a pretty little village in the eastern part of Iowa, for California.  Though entirely unused to pioneer life, the little party pressed on, along the seemingly endless emigrant road, sometimes in company with many others, but toward the last, almost alone, till they reached the western slope of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, and found themselves in California.  Amid all the unsettled conditions of those early California days, often cut off for long intervals from Christian associations and Church privileges, Mr. Royce steadily maintained his interest in the study of the Bible, and his high standard of Christian morality.  The habits of recklessness and reverly (sic) which often surrounded him in the mining camp and in the growing town, had not the slightest attractions for him.  The company and conversation of the low jester, the profane talker, or the irreverent scoffer, were ever so distasteful to him that he preferred a stopping place in a wilderness at any time rather than to stay among them.  So strictly temperate was he in his habits that he has been known when away from home in those rough times, to suffer many hours from a sharp attack of cholera-morbus, rather than go to the bar of a saloon for a small quantity of the only thing within his reach that could be called medicine.  When at home he was in the constant habit of attending to family devotions; and when living far away from church gatherings, he commonly spent part of the Sabbath in reading aloud the Scriptures, often adding a sermon from some distinguished Christian preacher.  About the year 1857, a little Baptist Church, of which he was then a member, became almost broken up by the removal of most of its members to other parts of the country.  Nearly at the same time the “Disciples of Christ,” that is, the “Christian Church” organized, in the immediate neighborhood, under the leadership of a very devoted and earnest preacher.  Mr. Royce promptly took membership with them, and for the remainder of his life preferred to make his religious home with that people.  Many were the reverses and disappointments which he experienced in his long life, but whatever mistakes he might make in other things, he always maintained unwavering faith in the infinite wisdom and goodness of God our Father, and in the salvation coming to us through Christ Jesus our Lord.  Several years ago he broke down entirely in health, and for a long time continued without any business whatever.  It was not expected, then by his family or friends that he would ever be able to shoulder the burdens of life; and when, as he gradually recovered, he began to talk about business, they tried to dissuade him from it.  But, partly habit and partly an over-sanguine hope of success led him to attempt again travelling business to which he had been accustomed.  For a while his health improved, and he wrote sometimes that he felt as well as ever.  Three years ago last spring, however, he came home, suffering with what then appeared to be heart disease; but after some time spent in the quiet and rest of home, he again started out, and soon wrote once more of renewed appetite and vigor.  A year ago last spring he wrote that he had taken a severe cold and had a cough.  Again he was urged to come home lest he should become entirely disable,d [sic] but, though he assented to this, and said he was turning homeward, he did not arrive at home until the 13th of July, 1887.  By this time his cough was much better, and though at first very feeble, he as usual soon began to amend, improving greatly in animation, and taking hold with real zest of the religious and social pleasures offered him by the Church of which he was a member and by other kind, Christian neighbors, of whom he soon formed very happy associations.  From this time he never left home again, and seemed to appreciate more highly than ever the comfort and benefit of the regular church services, of the Sunday School, and of the weekly prayer-meeting.  Nothing happened to disturb this calm life until toward the last of April, 1888, when news unexpectedly arrived of the very serious illness of his youngest and only unmarried daughter, a teacher in San Jose.  This of course demanded the presence of her mother, and Mr. Royce had to be left without the care and ministration to which he was accustomed, but not without the presence of a most kind and Christian family who lived in the same house.  The daughter’s iilness [sic] proved very long; but when Mrs. Royce visited home as soon as possible, to see to Mr. Royce’s comfort and make such new arrangements as seemed necessary, he appeared in ordinary health, and declared his ability to get on very well as long as she was needed at the sick bed.  From this time the letters and cards which he wrote to his wife were characterized by cheerfulness and vigor; the last one being finished and despatched June 19th, and closing with a few words of playful humor.  In the course of that letter he mentioned having been quite unwell for a day, but said that he was at the time of writing well again and was getting on very comfortably; adding several words in praise of his kind and pleasant neighbors.  That was just three days before his death.  On the morning of June 22nd, he was conversing cheerfully with Mr. and Mrs. Sherwood in their kitchen, and passed from there into his own rooms, with words of pleasant chat hardly finished between them.  Soon after ten o’clock that night his kind neighbors wondering that they had not seen him since morning, went to look for him and found him dead.  The physician who was immediately called decided that death had been caused by the rupture of blood vessels at the base of the brain, that it had been instantaneous and wholly painless.  Mr. Royce leaves besides his wife, three daughters and a son.  The youngest daughter has been for several years a member of the Faculty of our State Normal School, and the son is a Professor of Philosophy in Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts. – Los Gatos (Cal.) News.
   [The subject of this notice was a brother of Bro. Geo. S. Royce, Everton, and of our late Bro. Robert Royce, an Elder for many years in the Everton church.  EDITORS.]

Updated 30 january 2010