Montague Edwin Rousham

by Steve Beamon

Pc Montague Rousham

Pc Montague Rousham

I recently purchased this CDV* of a LSWR police officer which had been taken by a photographer based in Wandsworth Road near to Vauxhall Station. It therefore seemed likely that the officer worked at either Waterloo or Nine Elms Depot. The photographer, Walter Bino Brock, only lived and operated from 76 Wandsworth Road between 1887 and 1907, although he was a long-established practitioner from 1878 until his death in 1915 at the age of 69.

Upon closer inspection of the rear of the CDV and amongst the flowery printing were some letters in pencil. Having sought the aid of my teenage son, whose eyesight is far better than mine, we established that there were two words and then other letters beneath. The first of the two words started with an M and appeared to end with a U, whereas the second word began with an R and ended with either AM or UM.

My wife took over and found that the letters below what appeared to be a name spelt July 1891 which meant that it was possible that he would be a railway constable on the 1891 census, unfortunately my service provider does not have a key word/occupation search for this census year. I therefore began thinking about a first name beginning with M and ending with U. Eventually I came up with Montagu, entering this into the search engine together with a surname consisting of R, a wild card symbol and M together with the civil parish of Lambeth. I should add that although it appears that it was easy I had to amend the search a few times for different registration districts.

Eventually I came up with Montague Edwin Rousham who is shown on the 1891 census as residing at 81 Wandsworth Road, almost opposite the photographer, and working as a railway policeman.

Rear of CDV

Rear of CDV


Montague possibly had a good start in life as his father was an early Metropolitan Police officer who transferred on promotion to Devon, eventually becoming a Superintendent in Devon when Montague was born in 1868. However, maybe Montague was not satisfied with his lot as at the age of 19 years he took passage to Quebec arriving in May 1887. Still unsettled he returned to England and became a railway police officer. The CDV dated July 1891 was to become his farewell image for his friends and family as on the 28th August 1891 he left England and travelled to Australia where he quickly took another sailing to New Zealand and the town of Napier on Hawkes Bay where his elder brother Philip had settled. Our Montague quickly found a position with the railway at Napier as a station porter. He lived with Philip and his sister-in-law Sarah Ann.

We know that the Napier area was prone to flooding and in December 1893 parts of the town and the railway were flooded. Our next contact with Montague was an announcement of his death, cause unknown, in Napier Hospital on 7th January 1894 at the age of 26. There are some further records held in New Zealand but unfortunately, I have been unable to access them, the unanswered question is what was the cause of death? Something relating to the flood waters, typhus, cholera or was it as a result of an accident when helping to repair the railway line?

All we have is his image and his sad story.


* carte-de-visite / visiting card