The Sinking of the R.M.S. Leinster

People on board

William John Bunday

BUNDAY, William John

William John Bunday was born in Portsmouth, Hampshire on the 9th of December 1870 to John James Bunday and Hannah Waterman. John was a Mariner and was evidently at sea during the 1871 census as the twenty year old Hannah was alone with her younger sister and four-month old William in Ivy Street. A second child, Flora, was born in 1872 and in December of that year twenty-five year old John was drowned while serving as Cook on the Duff, a Portsmouth coasting ship.

In 1878 Hannah remarried to William Ernest Southon, a Grocer’s Assistant and they had three children, though the eldest died aged three. In the 1881 census William and Flora Bunday were living in the Southon household in Highfield Street. In the 1891 census, aged twenty, William gave his occupation as ‘Shipwright Apprentice’. In 1895 he married Anna Grace Wield and by 1901 they had four children, Grace, John, William and Olive. By then William had risen to ‘Inspector of Shipwrights’ and they were living at 1 Victory Road in the Dockyard and Naval Base. The census shows that they were employing a Nurse and a Mother’s Help.

Anna Grace died in 1904, aged thirty-five, and that same year William Bunday married a widow, Eliza Emma Bellchamber née Chiverton. They had three boys, Harry, Godfey and Horace. For a year or so the family were living in Gillingham in Kent, where a newspaper article referred to William as ‘Naval Architect’. He was a member of the International Association of Naval Architects. The family returned to Portsmouth until he was appointed Foreman at Pembroke Dock in Wales in May 1909.

The 1911 census shows the family living in Bush Street in Pembroke Dock, where William Bunday was the Head of Family, but on that night neither William nor Eliza appear, and Grace, then aged fifteen and at school, was in charge of her six siblings. The parents have not been found elsewhere in the UK.

When the war began William Bunday was employed as a ‘Warship Production Inspector’. Headquartered at H.M. Dockyard, Devonport Bunday was sent to Merseyside as an ‘Admiralty Civilian’. The family lived at 55 Rowson Street, New Brighton, Liverpool. He presumably had been in Ireland on Admiralty business when he travelled on RMS Leinster on the 10th of October 1918. He did not survive the sinking, nor was his body recovered but a notice was inserted in the Liverpool Echo on the 30th of October: “Sadly missed by his wife and children”.

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission have recorded that William Bunday was “husband of the late Eliza Emma Bunday”, but in fact she did not die until August 1921.



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