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James Jeffrey Roche letters

Collection MS-1986-041: James Jeffrey Roche letters


  • Creation: 1870-1915, (bulk 1889-1908)
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1889 - 1908

Scope and Content Note

The James Jeffrey Roche Papers consists primarily of letters written to James Jeffrey Roche from politicians, diplomats, writers, artists, and religious leaders. Correspondents include: James Brendan Connolly, Grover Cleveland, Daniel Chester French, Cardinal James Gibbons, Michael Davitt, Edward Everett Hale, John Hay, Thomas Wentworth Higginson, William Dean Howells, Douglas Hyde, Sarah Orne Jewett, Arthur Lynch, Seumas MacManus, Theodore Roosevelt, Augustus Saint-Gaudens and Mark Twain. The largest body of correspondence is from Theodore Roosevelt. Another important body of letters are those written from the American sculptor Daniel Chester French concerning a memorial to John Boyle O'Reilly. The collection also contains newspaper clippings about Roche, manuscripts of two poems by Roche and a piece of paper with his autograph.


Restrictions on access

Collection is open for research; portions of the collection available digitally.

Restrictions on use

These materials are made available for use in research, teaching and private study, pursuant to U.S. Copyright Law. The user must assume full responsibility for any use of the materials, including but not limited to, infringement of copyright and publication rights of reproduced materials. Any materials used for academic research or otherwise should be fully credited with the source. The original authors may retain copyright to the materials.

Biographical Note

James Jeffrey Roche was born to Edward and Mary (Doyle) Roche on May 31, 1847, in the town of Mountmellick, Queen’s County, Ireland. In the same year, he immigrated with his parents to Prince Edward’s Island, Canada. Roche grew up in Charlottetown, where his father, Edward Roche, a noted mathematical scholar, conducted a school. He graduated from St. Dunstan's College, a Jesuit affiliated school.

Roche came to Boston in 1866 and for some years was engaged in business. He later served as Boston correspondent for the Detroit Free Press. In 1883, he joined John Boyle O’Reilly as assistant editor of the Pilot. In 1890, after the death of O’Reilly, Roche became editor of the Pilot. In 1891, he was awarded an honorary doctorate of laws by Notre Dame University.

Though most of his time was spent as an editor, Roche found time to publish poetry and prose. These works include: Ballads of Blue Water and Other Poems (1895), Her Majesty the King (1899), Songs and Satires (1887), and The Sorrows of Sap'ed (1904). He also wrote biographical works that included: Life of John Boyle O'Reilly (1891) and The Story of the Filibusters (1891). The latter explored the "adventures" of General William Walker.

Roche was a member of several Boston cultural and social clubs. These included the American-Irish Historical Society, the John Boyle O'Reilly Club, the St. Botolph Club, the Jury Club of Boston and the Papyrus Club. He was one of the founders and officers of the American-Irish Historical Society.

Roche was a close friend of Theodore Roosevelt. From 1905 to 1907, he served as the United States Consul in Genoa, Italy. He later served as Consul in Berne, Switzerland, from 1907 to 1908.

James Jeffrey Roche died on April 3, 1908 in Berne, Switzerland, after a period of poor health. His second wife, his son (Arthur Somers Roche) and daughter (Florence Roche) all survived him. He also left three brothers and two sisters.

Sources: James Jeffrey Roche: A Memorial and Appreciation. [Boston, Mass.?: John Boyle O'Reilly Club?, 1909?] Obituary. Boston Traveler, April 4, 1908.


0.5 Linear Feet (1 container)

Language of Materials



James Jeffrey Roche was an Irish-born American journalist, author and diplomat. The collection consists primarily of letters written to Roche. Most of the correspondence is between Roche and Theodore Roosevelt. Other correspondents include diplomats, politicians and literary figures.


Because the current accessioning system was not used until January 1986, it is not possible to know exactly the dates of acquisition of materials received before that time.

Existence of Digital Copies

A portion of the collection is available digitally. Links are included in the inventory.

James Jeffrey Roche Letters
1870-1915, (bulk 1889-1908)
Inventoried by Elizabeth Delaney, August 1988. Revised by Tricia Segree, December 1996.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Revision Statements

  • 2023: Related materials added to collection
  • 2024: Minor edits to description and finding aid structure.

Repository Details

Part of the John J. Burns Library Repository

John J. Burns Library
Boston College
140 Commonwealth Avenue
Chestnut Hill MA 02467 United States