The Sinking of the R.M.S. Leinster

People on board

Francis Edward Higgerty

HIGGERTY, Francis Edward

Francis Higgerty was born in Ottawa, Canada, on 22 April 1887, the twelfth of fourteen children of Henry Higgerty and Jane McCormick. Both Henry and Jane had been born near Coleraine, Co Derry and Henry had emigrated to Canada in 1867, Jane going out the following year. Henry and Jane married in 1868, with Henry working as a Storeman and then Storekeeper and Grocer. The family were living on Somerset Street when Francis was born.

Francis was educated at St Patrick’s Boys School and in 1910 was admitted as a law student to the University of Ottawa at the age of twenty-three. He was called to the Bar in 1913 and joined the firm of Chrysler and Bethune in 1914, becoming a Partner the following year. He was involved in many sporting groups as well as the National Geographic Society of America and the Ottawa Reform Association. His father Henry died in 1911 and Francis lived with his mother in Somerset Street. In March 1918 he joined the Eastern Ontario Regiment of the Canadian Army, in the 2nd Battalion which was an Officer Training Corps.

At some point in the following months Francis applied for, and was granted, a commission in the British Army, possibly in the Royal Garrison Artillery, as reported in the The Scotsman of the 14th October 1918. He was discharged from the Canadian Army and set off for England. Before taking up his commission he decided to visit Ireland and his cousin Catherine O’Kane and family in Dublin, and so he was on the RMS Leinster on 10 October. Francis Higgerty did not survive the sinking but his body was recovered and identified by Michael O’Kane. The O’Kanes telegraphed Ottawa with the terrible news, and the reply was to have the body embalmed and prevent it being interred in Dublin. Eventually the body was returned to Canada and was laid to rest in Notre Dame Catholic Cemetery in Ottawa. Some personal belongings that were found on his body, a watch, ring, fountain pen and a poem he wrote about his visit to his sire-land, were ‘packed in a small cardboard box’ and posted to his mother.




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