The Sinking of the R.M.S. Leinster
 

People on board

Joseph George White

WHITE, Joseph George

Joseph George White was born into a maritime family in Bodmin, Cornwall in 1890 to William Thomas White and Mary Moore, the youngest of their eleven children. William’s father, Richard, had been in the Coastguard Service, and William himself was on board the Royal Navy’s Iron Duke in the Keyham Dockyard in Devon in the 1871 census. In May 1871 William married Mary Moore in Hammersmith in London. Mary was born in Kingstown, Dublin and, though only twenty years of age, was already a widow.

It is not known where they were, or if children were born, until February 1876 when a son was born at Cross Avenue, Kingstown, dying the same year. Another son was born in January 1877 and the address given was ‘Coastguard Station’. Four more children, only two of whom lived, were born at the Kingstown Coastguard Station and a fifth, Sarah, was born in Dalkey. The family then moved to Bodmin in Cornwall, where Joseph was born in 1890. In the 1891 census William’s occupation was given as ‘Warder Naval Prison’. In the 1901 census only Sarah and Joseph were with their parents, and in 1911 only Sarah remained, with the additional information given that only three of the eleven children were living. By 1911 William was retired and living in Exmouth, and by 1918 they lived in a house named ‘Kingstown House’.

In the 1911 census Joseph was in Gravesend Barracks in Kent with the 1st Battalion Duke of Cornwall Light Infantry. Military records are not available for Joseph White to show where he served during the war or when he transferred to the 3rd Battalion, which he is recorded as being in in 1918. However what is clear is that he retained contact with the sea and with Kingstown, as he married there in September 1916. His bride was Mary Freeney, daughter of Fireman / Stoker John Freeney who had served with the City of Dublin Steam Packet Co since 1879. John had been living in Liverpool and a son, Thomas Patrick, was born there, but after John’s wife died when Thomas was eighteen months old, he returned to Kingstown where he had been born, and married again, having four more children, including Mary.

When Mary Freeney and Joseph White married they lived at 20 Tivoli Terrace East with Mary’s then widowed mother and her sister Sabina. Mary and Joseph had one daughter, Mary Josephine, born in May 1918. It is not clear why Joseph was on board RMS Leinster on the 10th of October 1918 as the 3rd Battalion of the D.C.L.I. were stationed in Ireland at the time. It is possible that he was travelling to visit his parents. He did not survive the sinking nor was his body recovered.

Mary continued to live with her daughter in Tivoli Terrace, where tragedy struck again when her sister Sabina, who had married in July, died of Spanish flu on the 29th of October 1918. Another connection with a maritime disaster was with Mary’s half-brother Thomas Patrick, who also was with the Coastguard Service and was in Glenarm, Co Antrim in 1911. Some years earlier his wife’s brother, James Ryan, was one of the Kingstown Lifeboat Crew who had perished at Christmas 1895 attempting to save the passengers on the SS Palme.

 

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