Male portrait placeholder image

Name: Robert Heron

Burial Number: 1128

Gender: Male

Occupation: Town clerk

Born: 00/00/1852

Died: 14/07/1923

Buried: 18/07/1923


Robert Finlay Heron was born in 1852 in Dublin Ireland to Robert Finlay Heron Snr and Martha West Heron (nee Freeman).    Robert’s Father was a surgeon and was an FRCSI (Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons of Ireland).

In 1894 Robert (Jnr) was a Secretary and Sanitary Officer for Blackrock Council.

Robert married Ethel Jane Austin in 1908  at Knock Parish Church, Belfast, Ireland and the ceremony was performed by Rev. Frederick Austin, Ethel Jane’s Brother. There are no records of any children being born.

In 1910 Robert was the secretary to Blackrock Urban District Council

According to the 1911 Ireland census, Robert’s occupation was a Town clerk at Blackrock. The family were Living at 7 Belgrave Square, Blackrock, Dublin, Ireland 

In 1914 he was living at 27 Belgrave Square BlackRock Dublin Ireland.

At some point after 1914, the family moved to Worthing Sussex where they lived at Myrtledene, Woodlea road, West Tarring, Worthing in 1918,  before moving to ‘Pembroke’ Rowlands Road Worthing. Robert didn’t work while he was living in Worthing, but during WW1 he was involved in the establishment of the National Kitchen in Chapel Road, Worthing.

Robert died on 14th July 1923 in Heene, Worthing of an accidental drowning while suffering with Syncope (fainting) while bathing with his Brother, Samuel Cressall Heron, in the sea opposite Heene Terrace. Samuel Cressall Heron lived in Blackrock Ireland but was staying with his brother for a week. Robert went into the sea on his own while Samuel stayed on the beach. Some ladies that were also on the beach noticed that Robert was in difficulties and went into the water and brought him to the shore.  They tried artificial respiration but it didn’t work. A doctor was called and he pronounced life extinct. An inquest was held and a verdict of accidental drowning while suffering with Syncope was given.

Robert left £5784 12s 5d (£237484 in 2020) with probate to Samuel Cressall Heron (Brother).

Researcher: Jackie Rooney

The Grave

No headstone image available

Location in Cemetery

Area: NB Row: 17 Plot: 3

Exact Location (what3words): record.sheet.modes

Ashes or Urn: Unknown



No description of the headstone has been added.


In loving memory of Robert Finlay Heron died 14th July 1923 and Ethel Jane his wife died 8th Jan 1948

Further Information


Name: Robert Finlay Heron

Gender: Male

Born: 00/00/1852

Town: Dublin

County: Unknown

Country: Ireland


Maiden Name: Not applicable

Marriage Date: //1908

Spouse First Name: Ethel

Spouse Second Name: Jane

Spouse Last Name: Austin

Town of Marriage: Unknown

County of Marriage: City of Belfast

Country of Marriage: Ireland

Information at Death

Date of Death: 14/07/1923

Cause of death: Accidental Drowning

Address line 1: Pembroke

Address line 2: Rowlands road

Town: Worthing

County: Sussex

Country: England


No obituary has been entered.

Personal Effects

Money left to others: £5784 12 s 5 d

Current value of effects: £237483

Census Information


Cross Avenue Blackrock, Dublin, Ireland

Francis Heron (Head) age 50. Robert Finlay Heron (Brother) age 48, Sophie Mary Heron (Sister) age 45, Sarah Anne Heron (Sister) age 39, Samuel Cressall Heron (Brother) age 35, plus 1 servant


7 Belgrave Square, Blackrock, Dublin, Ireland

Robert Finlay Heron (Head) age 58, Ethel Jane Heron (Wife) age 32, plus 1 servant

Miscellaneous Information

Wicklow People – 10th October 1908

Approaching Marriage – A marriage will shortly take place between Ethel, daughter of the late Rev. F Austin, Rector of Castlecomer, County Kilkenny, and Mr Robert Finlay Heron, M.A., second son of the late Mr Robert Finlay Heron, F.R.C.S.I. The wedding will take place at Knock Parish Church, and the ceremony will be performed by the bride’s brother, Rev. Frederick Austin, M.A., uncumbent. Mr Finlay Heron is the well known town clerk of Blackrock.

Reynolds Newspaper – 15th July 1923

Drowned While Bathing – Mr Robert Finlay Heron, M.A., formerly Town Clerk of Blackrock, Co. Dublin, who had been living in Worthing for about twelve years, was drowned while bathing with his brother yesterday.
Although 71 years of age, Mr Heron was very fond of swimming. He sank before assistance could be rendered, and, although still alive on being brought to shore, he died a few minutes later.

Worthing Gazette – 18th July 1923

Death While Bathing – Plucky Action of a Lady Visitor

A sad bathing fatality occurred opposite Heene Terrace on Saturday. Mr Robert Finlay Heron, M.A., of Pembroke, Rowlands Road, was enjoying a bathe in the presence of his brother, who was sitting on the beach, when he apparently had an attack of syncope. Some lady bathers noticed that he seemed in difficulty, and one of them, Mrs Faxton, although unable to swim, pluckily dashed into the water up to her chin and caught hold of him, while the other ladies helped her form a chain back to the water’s edge. When brought ashore Mr Heron was alive, though unconscious, but artificial respiration and other restorative remedies were of no avail, and Dr Morton Palmer had eventually to pronounce life extinct.
The deceased, who was 71 years of age last April, was formerly Town Clerk at Blackrock, County Dublin, for over a quarter of a century; and he was well known in Worthing, where he had resided for many years. Although he did not take any active part in public affairs here, he rendered useful service in variety of ways during the War, being actively associated among other things with the establishment of the National Kitchen in Chapel Road.
The circumstances were reported to the Coroner by Constable Walder, and on Monday afternoon Mr FW Butler conducted an inquiry at the deceased’s residence in Rowlands Road.
Formerly a Town Clerk – Formal evidence of identification was given by Mrs Elsie Jane Heron, wife of the deceased, who said he was formerly Town Clerk at Blackrock, County Dublin. He was 71 years of age, and a M.A. of Trinity College, Dublin. He left home on Saturday morning between eleven and twelve o’clock to go for a bathe. He had been a regular bather all his life, but had not been in the water this year till Friday last. The reason he had not bathed before was that he had not been in good health, and she asked him not to. Whenever he bathed he promised her never to go beyond his depth. He had not a good circulation, and he never stayed in the water long. He would occasionally float on his back, but he generally dived in, swam a few strokes, and then came out again.
Samuel Cramrann Heron, of Montpelier Place, Blackrock, brother of the deceased and Secretary to the Municipal Authorities Association of Ireland, stated that he had been staying at Worthing for the past week on a visit to his brother; and on Saturday morning he accompanied him down on the beach for a bathe. He assisted him to put up the tent and saw him enter the water, and he did not notice that there was anything wrong until he saw some ladies rushing into the water to his assistance. Witness was sitting on the beach, and he was a little short-sighted. One of the ladies who had rushed to his assistance, brought his brother back to the water’s edge, and there was a call for stimulants and a doctor. Witness got stimulants, and when he returned there was a doctor present. Deceased was quite himself and in his usual good spirits when he went down to bathe. He had not complained of the heat during the previous week; in fact, he seemed rather to like it. He was none the worse for his bathe the previous day, and seemed to enjoy it.
Lady Bathers Chain to Shore – Mrs Irene Faxton, of Brunswick Square, London, a visitor staying temporarily at Chipton, Heene Road, deposed that she was bathing on Saturday morning opposite Heene Terrace when a lady called out to her, “There is a man in difficulty over there.” She looked in the direction indicated and saw a man, apparently on his back, in the sea, and with what looked like foam coming from his mouth. Witness ran to his assistance, and when she caught hold of him the water was up to her chin; but some other ladies got hold of her other arm, and together they made a chain to the shore. As she was approaching the deceased she noticed him turn over on his side. When they got him ashore he was just breathing, but not conscious. A nurse who was on the beach tried massage, and did all she could, but he never showed any signs of consciousness. A Coastguardsman also tried artificial respiration, until a doctor arrived and pronounced life extinct. Witness could not swim herself.
Dr A S Morton Palmer stated that the deceased had been a patient of his since March of this year. He had a very severe attack of eczema, and he also complained of palpitation of the heart, which witness associated with dyspepsia. There were no signs of any disease of the heart, however, although there might have been an inherent weakness. Witness saw him on the shingle on Saturday, and he was then pulseless and unconscious, but just alive. Artificial respiration was tried for some 35 minutes, but without result. The limbs were well massaged, and witness injected the most powerful restoratives, but without result. In his opinion deceased had a heart attack due to a fibroid condition of that organ, precipitated by the heat and by his bathing. If it were a case of drowning, witness thought they might have brought him round, as he was still breathing. No doubt he had swallowed a great deal of water, which would interfere with the respiration, but death was due to syncope, accelerated by the heat, whilst bathing.
Plucky Assistance Acknowledged – The Coroner: But if it had not been for the water in his lungs, I take it, you might have brought him round?
Witness: Quite so, but you could not call it an ordinary case of drowning.
Mrs Heron mentioned that once when they were away at Bournemouth her husband fell down and was unable to account for it, but she thought it was a stroke.
The Coroner recorded a verdict to the effect that deceased was accidentally drowned in consequence of an attack of syncope while bathing.
Dr Morton Palmer said he should like to acknowledge the excellent assistance given him by the Coastguardsman and other voluntary helpers in the efforts at artificial respiration.
The Coroner said he was very glad to know it, and he almost regretted that he had not got the help of a jury because they would no doubt have publicly recognised the pluckiness of Mrs Faxton in going into the water in the way she did. She could not swim herself and did not know how deep the water was, but without thinking of the possible consequences to herself she went to the deceased’s assistance, and was the means of bringing him ashore.