The Sinking of the R.M.S. Leinster
 

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Florence Sophia Musgrave

MUSGRAVE, Florence Sophia (Margaret)

Florence Sophia Musgrave was born in the 1850s, to Sir Richard Musgrave and Frances Mary Ashton Yates. Sir Richard was Fourth Baronet of Tourin, Cappoquin, Co Waterford and he and Frances Yates had married in London in 1845. The Tourin estate, on the banks of the River Blackwater had been bought by the Musgrave family in 1778 and a new house was built in 1841. Sir Richard was Lord Lieutenant for Co Waterford and the family were very involved in local affairs. Florence was the fourth of five children; her eldest sister Maria, born in 1847, married Cosby Godolphin Trench, son of Baron Ashtown, and they lived in County Tipperary. The only son, Richard John Musgrave, was born in 1850 and married a Canadian heiress, Jessie Dunsmuir, in 1891 having succeeded to the Tourin estate when his father died in 1874.

Florence Sophia, known as Margaret, and her sister Frances, known as Fanny, have left no records that have been found to confirm their ages. Born before civil registration, there are no birth certificates and neither can be found in any of the censuses in either Ireland or the U.K.

Both were drowned in 1918 on the RMS Leinster but no death certificates were issued. Another sister, Edith Melesina Lovett, was born in 1863 but she also, did not appear in the censuses. There are a few newspaper reports that suggest that Florence was active in local Unionist politics in the 1890s in the Lismore area. Fanny was named among the founder members of the Irish Amateur Drawing Society when it was formed in Lismore in 1870 but the Clonmel Chronicle did not include her among the organisers of the first exhibition in 1871, though she was named on the organising committee for the 1877 exhibition. Her name never appeared among the exhibitors or prize winners, but the numbers involved were quite large and the newspapers were selective.

The family also owned a house in Cadogan Gardens in London and the three girls and their mother spent a good part of their time there, and it was where Frances Mary Musgrave died in 1895. She left the bulk of her estate of over £15,000 to the three younger sisters. The following year there was a report in the Waterford Standard of a meeting in Cappoquin to establish district nursing in the area, a project to be funded by the Misses Musgrave as a memorial to their late mother. It was said that “Miss Florence Musgrave has spared no pains to bring this matter to a successful issue.”

Florence and Fanny were returning to London from a fortnight’s visit to Tourin on 10 October 1918 when the ship was torpedoed, and neither survived the sinking. Their bodies were recovered and were taken to Cappoquin, where they were laid to rest in Affane cemetery, the Musgrave family burial place. A newspaper report stated that they had been accompanied by a maid, but no details were given.

Their wills indicated that they left over £24,000 and £28,000 respectively. In January 1919 their fifty five year old sister Edith married Edward Thompson, a sixty two year old bachelor from Knightsbridge. Their niece, Joan Musgrave, eldest daughter of Richard and Jessie, studied art in Paris and became a respected artist, exhibiting frequently. She married Tom Jameson of the whiskey family and their descendants still live in Tourin House, which is open to the public.

 

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