The Sinking of the R.M.S. Leinster

People on board

Edmund Vaentine Freeman

FREEMAN, Edmund Valentine

Edmund Vaentine Freeman Edmund Valentine Freeman was born in Great Yarmouth, Norfolk on 14th February 1873. He was the eldest of the ten children of Edmund Bennett Freeman and Alice Johanna Coote, seven of whom were alive in 1911. Edmund Bennett was a ‘Carver and Gilder’, a skilled trade that two of his sons followed him in. In the 1891 census however, Edmund Valentine (known as EV) was living with his aunt and uncle in Great Yarmouth and gave his occupation as ‘Photographer’s Assistant’. The Freemans were an artistic family; according to the 1871 census Edmund Bennett’s father was an ‘Artist’, and EV’s uncle was a ‘Piano Tuner and Teacher of Music’. In 1901 EV was back with his family and he and his brother William were ‘Carvers and Gilders’, like their father.

The Freemans were living in Dene Side in 1901 before moving their business to Regent Road and living in Hall Quay. Edmund Bennett died in 1906 and his widow and sons continued the business. Meanwhile in September 1901 EV had married Clara Gertrude Harrison, whose father was an Artist, according to the marriage certificate. They had three children, Edmund Charles in 1903, Leslie in 1906 and Phyllis in 1908.

In the 1911 census Edmund Valentine, his mother Alice, and brother William all gave their occupation as ‘Fine Art Dealer etc’.

Edmund Vaentine Freeman
    Clara Gertrude Harrison

Edmund Valentine enlisted in Great Yarmouth and started his reserve service in the Norfolk Yeomanry. The reserve battalions were moved to Ireland where he was transferred to the Essex Yeomanry and by 1918 he was a Sergeant in the 2/1st Battalion. This had been formed in 1914 as a second line unit and in September 1917 it was converted to a Cyclist unit. He was presumably returning to England on leave when EV Freeman travelled on RMS Leinster on the 10th of October 1918. He did not survive the sinking but his body was recovered and he was buried in Grangegorman Military Cemetery in Dublin.

His widow Clara did not remarry, but she was clearly a resourceful woman. She was appointed a Magistrate to the Great Yarmouth bench in 1935, later becoming its Chairman. The Yarmouth Independent, reporting her appointment in 1935, along with three other women and one man, said that she “had rendered good service since the war in connection with Melton Lodge (a children’s Orthopaedic Hospital) and also as a member of the War Pensions Committee”. Her son Edmund was then the Deputy Borough Treasurer. She died in 1965 aged eighty-seven.


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