The Sinking of the R.M.S. Leinster

People on board

Edwin George Ferber

FERBER, Edwin George

Edwin George Ferber was born in Killaloe, Co Clare in 1856. His parents, William Ferber and Martha Parry, were both from Lancashire and had married in Liverpool in 1836 and their first child, John, was born there the following year. William had joined the City of Dublin Steampacket Company in 1836 as a boilermaker and in 1838 was sent to Killaloe by the Company. At that time Killaloe and Lough Derg was at the centre of the boat trade between Limerick and the centre of Ireland, and on to Dublin by canal, as well as having extensive slate quarries. Passenger traffic was also a very significant part of the business. The Shannon Steam Navigation Company had a yard in Killaloe for boat building, and William Ferber’s job was to superintend the building of steamships for his Company. He was then made Manager for the CDSPCo in Killaloe and remained there until the 1860s when the railway took over.

While in Killaloe, William and Martha had six more children, Edwin George being the second youngest. William was held in high esteem during the thirty years that he spent in Killaloe, and was presented with a memorial from the inhabitants when he left. In 1861 the eldest son John was in Liverpool with the occupation of Mechanical Engineer. He married in 1863 and had five children, and in 1866 was on the CDSPCo ship Munster as Second Engineer. He died in the 1870s. William and the rest of the family were back in Liverpool by the time of the 1871 census, where William was Manager of the CDSPCo works. In 1881 Edwin and youngest son Arthur were still at home with their mother, with the occupations of Engineer and Engine Fitter, respectively. The second eldest son, William, was also working as Second Engineer on CDSPCo ships, but then seems to have taken a shore job with the company. He died in 1880.

In 1881 Edwin George Ferber married Margaret Ann Middlebrook in Liverpool and they had one son, William, in 1882. Between 1878 and 1883 he worked as Second Engineer on CDSPCo ships, when he was the appointed Assistant Superintendent Engineer. In 1891 he was appointed Superintendent. In the following years the Company moved from paddle steamers to twin-screw steamers to service their Royal Mail contract. Four of these ‘state of the art’ ships were built by Lairds of Birkenhead, with Edwin Ferber supervising the construction. He was present at the launch in 1896 of RMS Leinster.

In 1901 Ferber’s wife Margaret died. He remarried in 1905 to Ellen Jane Winstanley, but there were no children of this marriage. In the 1911 census Edwin and Ellen were living in Bootle with his son, William, who was continuing the family tradition with the occupation of Mechanical Electrical Engineer. Meanwhile Edwin’s nephew, John B Ferber, son of his eldest brother John, also took the same career, becoming Chief Engineer on CDSPCo ships, the third generation of Ferbers to work with the Company.

In 1918 Edwin Ferber, with the title of Chief Marine Engineer, was living in Dublin in Dartmouth Square. On 10 October he was travelling to England on Company business, but was not counted as one of the crew. He did not survive the sinking, but at his funeral a dramatic story was recounted of how he had fastened a lifebelt on one of the stokers just before the second torpedo struck the ship and he was killed. A simple wreath on the coffin was a token of gratitude from the stoker. Edwin Ferber’s remains were taken to Liverpool and, following a ceremony in the Wesleyan Church, he was buried in Anfield cemetery. A memorial service was also held in the Methodist Church, Brighton Road in Dublin.



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