The Sinking of the R.M.S. Leinster

People on board

Thomas Hewson Curtis

CURTIS, Thomas Hewson

Thomas Hewson Curtis was born in Dublin on the 2nd of August 1873 to Thomas Hewson Curtis and Margaret Cole. Thomas’s birth certificate clearly states that his mother was Margaret Hobart, but this must be a mistake by the Registrar as his parents’ marriage certificate definitely states ‘Cole’, as do the birth certificates of all the children, including those born before Thomas. A probable explanation lies in the birth certificate of the eldest child, William George, born in 1872 when the informant, present at the birth, was a Mary Hobart, possibly a relation or close friend.

Thomas was the second of the ten children of Thomas and Margaret, nine of whom were alive in 1911. When he was born they were living in Rathmines in south Dublin, where Thomas was a ‘Forage Master to Portobello Barracks’. The next child, Alice, was born in Belfast and Thomas was a ’Forage Contractor’. When further children were born in the 1880s the family lived at Montpelier Hill, close to Marlborough Barracks though Thomas may have been providing forage to more than one barracks.

In the 1901 census the family was living in Blackhall Street and Thomas styled himself ‘Manager Corn and Carrying Trades’. It was clearly profitable as the family had moved to Hollybrook Road in the developing suburb of Clontarf by 1911. Meanwhile Thomas Jnr. was in London in 1901 where he was working as a Joiner. He has not been found in the 1911 census, but in October 1913 he married Elizabeth Southerland in Stockport, Cheshire.

Curtis Mullen and brothers
Photo courtesy of Trevor Mullen

From family information we know that a few weeks after the marriage Thomas left for South Africa, where he had been offered a job managing a cement factory in Pretoria. Sometime later Elizabeth followed him to South Africa, accompanied by a Nanny, Frances Elizabeth Wilkin. Elizabeth Curtis gave birth to Thomas Hewson on 14 July 1914 in Durban but died on the 1st of August. Thomas appears to have married Frances Wilkin soon after, but he then enlisted in the South African Engineers and was posted to France.

It is known that Thomas Hewson Curtis fought as a Sapper with the South African Engineers at the front, but there are no detailed records available. He was presumably on leave with his family in Dublin and returning to duty when he travelled on RMS Leinster on the 10th of October 1918. He did not survive the sinking, nor was his body recovered, but he is remembered on the Hollybrook memorial in Southampton. Frances Wilkin Curtis and the child Thomas Hewson Curtis lived out the rest of their lives in Durban, South Africa.



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