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Photo: Courtesy of Rolls-Royce
Circa-1920s outside the London home of Rolls-Royce at 15 Conduit Street.
Photo: Courtesy of Rolls-Royce

On March 27, 1863, Frederick Henry Royce was born, joining his three sisters and a brother as a child of James and Mary Royce, of Alwalton near Peterborough, in the UK. James, like his father before him was a miller. A jovial man, James lacked business skills, which resulted in his bankruptcy in February 1867. At that time, the four-year-old Frederick had his first job, that of bird-scarer on a local farm; his pay was sixpence a week.

Royce bought this 1901 French two-cylinder Decauville used but, unhappy with its quality, began taking it apart to discover its secrets.
Photo: Courtesy of Rolls-Royce

The family fell on hard times and were forced to split up, Mary taking her daughters to lodgings in Alwalton, and James taking the boys to London. He died in 1872, probably of Hodgkin’s disease, and Frederick’s mother arranged for him to stay in London, boarding with an elderly couple known to her from the family’s days in Alwalton.

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