Monday 21 January 2019

'Why did my father disappear?' - Son desperate to solve mystery of playboy rogue

Accountant tells of the riddle of missing dad last seen in Dublin hotel 59 years ago

John Herbert with the Sunday Pictorial story on his father Peter who disappeared in 1957
John Herbert with the Sunday Pictorial story on his father Peter who disappeared in 1957

Alan O'Keeffe

An Englishman who has nurtured a lifelong hope of finding his missing father has travelled to Ireland to continue his search.

John Herbert (69) is appealing to people in Dublin for any information they may have on Peter Herbert, an accountant and racehorse owner whose last known location was in the city in 1957.

The tale of Peter is colourful to say the least.

"He left England with a woman named Stella to travel to Ireland in July 1957," said John.

John Herbert who has traveled from the UK , who has travelled to Ireland in the hope of finding his father Peter.
John Herbert who has traveled from the UK , who has travelled to Ireland in the hope of finding his father Peter.

"He stayed at the Belvedere Hotel in Dublin. We don't know what happened to him after he left the hotel in Denmark Street."


A British Sunday newspaper published a front page story in December 1957 with a photograph of Peter Herbert holding a cocktail shaker with the headline 'Good Riddance To A Rogue'.

The Sunday Pictorial published stories reporting Peter had embezzled money from a furniture manufacturing firm where he worked in order to finance a playboy lifestyle, including the purchase of a number of racehorses.

The newspaper published comments from Peter admitting he had been "fiddling the books" at the business. His employer also confirmed to the newspaper he had stolen money from him.

"Why did my father disappear? In his mind, he had to run away, a coward," said John, also an accountant who lives in Devon. "There were lots of things in his life we don't know. He has been called a rogue and many other things, all of which are probably true."

John said that by the age of 37 his father had children with three different women.

He said Peter had remained married to his mother, Olive, with whom he had five children.

Olive's five children were still very young when he disappeared.

"Despite being a very clever man, my father double-crossed others to get ahead," he said.

"I'm the first to accept my father was not a nice or a good man, however, it means so much to discover more about his life after 1957.

"Despite his wrongdoings, I feel a son or daughter has a right to know about their father, especially his last resting place."

He said his father may have used other names in Ireland, such as Peter Field, Peter Williams, or Peter Scott.

Extensive efforts by John to find out what happened to his father have included commissioning psychological profiling, employing private investigators in Ireland and Britain, commissioning a number of searches through the Salvation Army, and visiting the Garda Missing Persons office and the National Archives in Dublin, he said.

His father was born in England on October 31, 1920.

John has also contacted other missing persons agencies in Ireland and the UK, examined ship passenger lists, examined his father's bankruptcy documents, and checked death registers and probate records in the UK and abroad.

He also paid for Dublin solicitors to search Land Registry records in Ireland.

Although there was "a strong possibility" his father remained in Ireland, John has followed up rumours that he could have gone to Canada, the United States, Australia, or Trinidad by contacting investigators abroad.


He told the Herald he would be willing a pay a reward for any useful information about what happened to his father and he can be contacted by e-mail at

John, who has one son and two granddaughters, said he had felt isolated and alone as a child without his father.

He was the eldest of the couple's five children and would dearly love to know what happened to him or even just his date of death. He promised his mother before she died that he would try to find out what happened him.

"I do not want to pass from this world without finding out what happened to my father," John said


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