I am collecting information about Christian authors writing about economic topics. The other day, browsing my university library, I found a copy of this book, titled "A plain Christian looks at finance", published in 1932, in London. As the information says, the author is described as

Lt.-Commander R.T. Chaloner Woods R.N. (retired)

I cannot find anything about the author online. For example, if you google "Chaloner Woods" R.N. commander and browse around all you see is the above link about the book. I also searched the UK Who's who online, without success.

Why do I ask here? Well, as historians or people interested in history, you might have plenty of experience on methods/techniques to find out things or people. So any idea, hint or suggestion about where to look is welcomed. For example, maybe you know a database for military people, or have access to some specialised database of people.

PS: I am not asking you to look "for me". As I said, I went very far into the google results pages, using different searches. I am satisfied with an answer which guides me on where to look, specially if it ends up being successful. Naturally, you are free to look yourself and I fully appreciate if you are able to find something, purely because you just know better how to search.

PS2: I asked on meta whether a question like this might be on-topic, receiving a fairly favourable answer. Hopefully the rest will agree.

2 Answers 2


Since the author served in the Royal Navy, a logical place to start would be the British National Archives. Much of their records have fortunately been digitalised and can be searched online - including service registers from the early 20th century.

A search of the officers' service records reveal a Lieutenant Commander Richard Travers Chaloner Woods, born on 30 January 1901, who received a commission in the Royal Navy at the age of 18. This is, in all likelihood, the author you seek. Incidentally the name also appears in the December 1920 Navy List of active duty officers as a midshipman since 11 October.

For more information on Woods' life, his service record, catalogue number ADM 196/148/689, can be read for free at the National Archives at Kew. Alternatively, a digital copy can be requested for a small fee from: http://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/details/r/D8126488

  • 4
    Thanks! I thought R.N were some further surnames, but I see now it means Royal Navy. The documents you suggest might be the only thing available. I searched his name online and there is nothing else (actually, this question now appears first on google!).
    – luchonacho
    Commented Dec 1, 2017 at 13:14
  • There are some other hits about a person called "Chaloner Woods", related to photography, but I imagine if this were the same person, he would use his full title (Lt.Commander, as in the book).
    – luchonacho
    Commented Dec 1, 2017 at 13:18
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    @luchonacho Yup, that seems to be a John Chaloner Woods, travelling candy salesman turned photographer, born in 1903.
    – Semaphore
    Commented Dec 1, 2017 at 13:25
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    @luchonacho: R.N. or RN as a suffix on a name means Royal Navy, and R.A.F. or RAF mean Royal Air Force. These were used by officers and former officers to indicate that they were regulars, rather than in the reserve forces. Single-letter surnames are extremely rare for the British, possibly non-existent. Commented Dec 1, 2017 at 14:04
  • And you can order a copy of his birth certificate from www.gro.gov.uk using this information: WOODS, RICHARD TRAVERS CHALONER SMITH GRO Reference: 1901 M Quarter in EDMONTON Volume 03A Page 389 (Smith is his mother's maiden name) Commented Dec 1, 2017 at 14:40

For a list of Royal Navy officers, you need to consult the Navy List. Many volumes of that are available on Archive.org; start with the latest one before 1936, and work backwards from there.

It is also worth trying his name in Google without the R.N., and that will lead you to his full name. I haven't found much else, though.

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