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Collection Overview

Roe, Richard, 1765-1853.
Richard Roe Letters to John Thelwell
Manuscripts Division
Permanent URL:
1 box and 0.2 linear feet
Storage Note:
  • Firestone Library (scamss): Box 1


Consists of eighteen letters by Richard Roe, an irish stenographer and writer, to English author John Thelwell concerning Roe's life, business endeavors, and books on the English language.

Collection Description & Creator Information

Scope and Contents

The collection consists of eighteen autograph letters by Richard Roe to John Thelwell, dating from 14 June 1805 to 1 September 1808. Mailed from Ireland or South Wales to Thelwell in Liverpool or London, the letters mention several of Roe's books, including Elements of English Metre, and contain several references to Thelwell's lectures published in Monthly Magazine. Often Roe includes music, poetry, odes, and Greek words as means of demonstrating his theories, as well as autobiographical information. He also discusses his manuscripts which he sends to Thelwell for advice before their publication. In a letter dated 21 July 1806, Roe writes about all his business endeavors and failures, claiming that the tutoring job that he had was ending in the winter, after which time he will be destitute with a wife and five children. In a letter dated 16 August 1806 he admits that he is "according to the vulgar saying, a Jack of all trades and master of none." He also talks about his new system of shorthand which he published in his book A New System of Shorthand (1802). On 22 December 1806 Roe informs Thelwell that a mutual friend, "Mr. Cottle," will be offering him a position which will "bring me to your side of the water." On 18 February 1807 he writes from Wales that his whole family arrived there on the 27th [January]. In the same letter Roe thanks Thelwell for mentioning in an article in Monthly Magazine the upcoming publication of Roe's latest book. The last two letters, dated 1 August 1808 and 1 September 1808, constitute one long letter.


Folders are arranged by date.

Collection Creator Biography:

Roe, Richard, 1765-1853.

Richard Baillie Roe, Irish stenographer and writer, was the son of James Roe of Grantstown, County of Tiperary, Ireland. Roe was interested in the principles of order and harmony in their application to music, poetry, linguistics, and theology. His career started as a church cleric. He later became disenchanted with religion in Ireland and entered into business. However, he did not succeed as a merchant and lost all of his money. He started a teaching academy, but that, too, was doomed to failure. He then traveled to London, partnered with a bookseller, and engaged in selling books, another career in which he did not succeed. In 1802, Roe started tutoring students in Dublin. In 1800-1801 his first book, Elements of English Metre Both in Prose and Verse, was both printed and published by him in London. He did not want to give another publisher the rights to his book; as a result the book was not very successful in this first edition. Other books written by Roe include The Principles of Rhythmn Both in Speech and Music, and Radiography, or a System of Easy Writing (1823).

John Thelwell was an author during the "Romantic period" of writing in the late 18th and early 19th centuries.

Collection History


The letters were removed from an 1801 edition of Roe's Elements of English Metre which was purchased by Princeton Univeristy Library in 1944 .


No appraisal information is available.

Processing Information

This collection was processed by Dina Britain on July 16, 2007. Finding aid written by Traci Ballou-Broadnax on June 16, 2007. Folder Inventory added by Hilde Creager (2015) in 2012.

Access & Use

Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Single copies may be made for research purposes. To cite or publish quotations that fall within Fair Use, as defined under U. S. Copyright Law, no permission is required. For instances beyond Fair Use, it is the responsibility of the researcher to determine whether any permissions related to copyright, privacy, publicity, or any other rights are necessary for their intended use of the Library's materials, and to obtain all required permissions from any existing rights holders, if they have not already done so. Princeton University Library's Special Collections does not charge any permission or use fees for the publication of images of materials from our collections, nor does it require researchers to obtain its permission for said use. The department does request that its collections be properly cited and images credited. More detailed information can be found on the Copyright, Credit and Citations Guidelines page on our website. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us through the Ask Us! form.

Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

For preservation reasons, original analog and digital media may not be read or played back in the reading room. Users may visually inspect physical media but may not remove it from its enclosure. All analog audiovisual media must be digitized to preservation-quality standards prior to use. Audiovisual digitization requests are processed by an approved third-party vendor. Please note, the transfer time required can be as little as several weeks to as long as several months and there may be financial costs associated with the process. Requests should be directed through the Ask Us Form.

Credit this material:

Richard Roe Letters to John Thelwell; Manuscripts Division, Department of Special Collections, Princeton University Library

Permanent URL:
Firestone Library
One Washington Road
Princeton, NJ 08544, USA
(609) 258-3184
Storage Note:
  • Firestone Library (scamss): Box 1