ROACH John (1806 – 1865)


Situated in the Consecrated/West Section of Jesmond Old Cemetery.

John Roach, born in Montserrat, was baptised on 11 Oct 1806 in St Michaels’, Barbados, a free Negro.

John’s Baptism record from 1806.

He came to England before the emancipation of slaves, which in the West Indies was on the 1st August 1834. On the 14th August 1832 he married Charlotte Feltham, they had two sons, James and John Philip. The following from the Newcastle Daily Chronicle dated Monday, April 10th, 1865 tells us a little of his life and the kind of person he was:

‘I, with many more denizens of Newcastle, thank you for the kindly notice you gave Mr John Roach, the other day whose death we all lament. John was a sort of ‘institution’ in our town for, with the cooperation of his wife, he succeeded in establishing and maintaining in great prosperity to the time of his death, one of the best dining houses in our town; and was esteemed and respected by all sorts of conditions of men. A correspondent, an old friend of his, sends me the following few particulars of the early life of the late lamented host of the London Chop House: – Mr Roach was the native of Mont Serrat in the West Indies, and while young became servant to Captain Masters, Governor of that place. He came to England with the captain, but left his service on his (the captain’s) marriage. He then went to the service of Mr. H Isadore Dyot, in Lincoln’s Inn Square, London, He afterwards came to Newcastle to go into business and by the recommendation of Mr Rutherford of the Club House in Eldon Square, became messman to the 4th Royal Irish Dragoons, then stationed at Newcastle barracks. When the regiment left and went to Jock’s Lodge the cooking of his wife being much appreciated by the officers of the mess, he went with them; and he only left that position in life from Mrs Roach losing her health. They return to Newcastle, where he became ‘boots’ at the Queen’s Head Inn. About a dozen years ago, he commenced business for himself, and which prospered exceedingly under his care.’

Again, in the following news article in the Newcastle Daily Chronicle, dated 29th of March, 1865, we find out more about his life:

‘Death of Mr John Roach – On Monday, Mr John Roach, the well-known proprietor of the London Chop House, Grey Street, died at his residence after a short illness. Mr Roach was born, we believe, in Sierra Leone, and came to this country before the emancipation of slaves in the West Indies, as a servant to an officer. While the regiment was stationed at Newcastle, Mr Roach left the gentleman’s service and became boots at the Queens Head Inn. This was in the old coaching days and boots at the Queen’s was a very well-known at that time. He remained there for some years, and then went to the Royal Exchange Hotel, which he left about 11 or 12 years ago, to commence with a little money he had saved by his frugality and industry, a small coffee house in Grainger Street, above Mr Whinfield’s shop. His undertaking was successful, and he was so well patronised in consequences of his very excellent cuisiniere and the manner in which he managed the business, that he was compelled to remove to the Crown Hotel, Grey Street to accommodate his increasing trade. For the last eight or nine years in the more extended premises, he did a large successful business, Mr Roach was well known in Newcastle and those who knew him as boots did not forget him when he became a disciple of Soyer. He was very much respected by all who knew him; and to his uniform courtesy, industry, and attention was due to his success in business. He was possessed with a most kind and amiable disposition, and was a liberal supporter of many charitable institutions of the town of his adoption in a quiet and unostentatious way. The deceased was married, and leaves a widow to mourn his loss.

An advert in the Newcastle Journal, dated Saturday, March 11, 1854, announcing his first business venture in Grainger Street.

John then went on to move his business to Newcastle’s premier street, Grey Street, setting up his Chop House as part of the Crown Hotel at number 13, Grey Street.

The Crown Hotel (number 13, Grey Street), adjacent to the left of the Crown Temperance Hotel, (numbers 15 – 17, Grey Street. The buildings can still be seen today.

A 19th Century engraving from the Robinson Library Special Collections Local Illustrations, Newcastle University Special Collections, GB 186.

Sadly his life was cut short, with his death being recorded in the Newcastle Journal on the 28th of March, 1865:

‘At the Crown Hotel, Grey Street, on the 27th inst, after a brief but severe illness, Mr John Roach. The deceased was possessed of a most kind and amiable disposition, and was a liberal supporter of many of the charitable institutions of the town of his adoption, in a quiet, and unostentatious way. He has died much respected by a large circle of acquaintances, and of him it may truly be said the poor have lost a friend.’

John’s death certificate. Note Joseph Daniel Green was in attendance – Joseph went on to marry his widow, Charlotte.

His death certificate tells us he died on 27th March, 1865 at 13 Grey Street at the age of 56. The cause of death was given as Ileus 3 days (obstruction of the bowel).

As highlighted above, Joseph Green went on to marry Charlotte in 1866 and they continued to run the business started by John.

An advert in The Newcastle Daily Chronicle, dated Wednesday, April 5, 1865, thanking customers for their past patronage under John and requesting that they still attend now that Charlotte owns the business.

Interestingly (and very cute), John’s grave is adjacent to that of Charlotte and Joseph.

Stained glass windows in St Nicholas’ Church, Cramlington were installed as a memorial to a man who was clearly highly thought of.

Read more about how we discovered John’s fantastic window tribute on Joseph and Charlotte Green’s page