The Sinking of the R.M.S. Leinster

People on board

Kathleen Matilda Brownell

Brownell, Kathleen Matilda

Kathleen Matilda Brownell was born in 1872 in Birkenhead, Cheshire to Robert Peter Brownell, a Cotton Merchant, and Catherine Yorke Prentice. Robert was born in Argentina while Catherine was the daughter of Deputy Lieutenant and Justice of the Peace for County Tyrone, Henry L Prentice of Caledon. They were married in Caledon church in 1866. Kathleen was the fourth of their nine children, three sons one of whom died in infancy, and six daughters. Catherine died in 1882 aged forty-two.

In the 1891 census Robert Brownell was living in Birkdale, north of Liverpool, with four young daughters and in 1901 he was living in Withington, Manchester with six unmarried daughters.

In 1902 the eldest daughter, Annie Rhoda, married the Rev Guy William Carleton L’Estrange, Rector of Caledon church, Co Tyrone.

Robert Brownell died in February 1911 leaving an estate of just over £18,000. He was buried in Park Road Cemetery in Cheadle, Stockport alongside his eldest son who had died in 1908. In the 1911 census Kathleen Brownell was living with two of her sisters, all unmarried, at 82 Leyland Road, Southport, a large three-storey detached house. Kathleen, aged thirty-nine, was ‘Living on Private Means’ like her sisters with no other occupation given.

Kathleen is recorded on the Government Probate Death Index as dying at sea on the 10th of October 1918 on S.S. Leinster. Her address was given as 13 St Peter’s Square, Hammersmith, London and she left an estate of just over £3,000. It would appear that her body was not recovered as there is no death certificate or burial record. No report of her death has been found until an item was published in the Belfast Newsletter in April 1921. This concerned a dedication of war memorials service held in Killylea Parish Church, Co Armagh, about three miles from Caledon. The service was conducted by Rev Guy W L’Estrange, then Rector of Killylea, in the presence of the Primate of Ireland. A mural tablet and a stained-glass window were dedicated to the memory of those connected to the parish who died or served in the war. A third memorial, a silver paten, was the gift of Mrs L’Estrange “in memory of her sister, Miss Kathleen Brownell, who was drowned when the R.M.S. Leinster was torpedoed on 10th October 1918”. Kathleen was “returning to war work in London”, but there is no indication as to what that work was.

This story was rediscovered in 2023 when the current Rector, Rev Forrest Atkins, was approached twice in the one week about a possible connection between the church and the Leinster. He found an inscription on the base of the paten confirming the story and contacted the RMS Leinster Team.



  Home        The Sinking        Commemoration        Poetry        People on board        Books & Bulletins        Contact        Privacy