The Sinking of the R.M.S. Leinster

People on board

Henrietta Alicia Howell

HOWELL, Henrietta Alicia

Henrietta Howell was born about 1856 in Toronto, Canada to Nicholas Howell and Mary Bradshaw Wigmore. Her grandfather, also named Nicholas, a Cork merchant, emigrated in 1832 with his family to the town of Pickering in Ontario and settled in the village of Brougham, one of the earliest settlers there. He carried on sawmilling, distilling and mercantile operations, and was postmaster of the first Post Office there which opened in 1836. When Nicholas died in 1845 in Brougham his death was reported in Irish newspapers.

In June 1847 Nicholas Howell, with an address at Brougham, Canada West, married Mary Bradshaw Wigmore of Kilbarry, Co Cork in Castlelyons church, Co. Cork. They next appeared in the 1851 Canadian census in Pickering, with two sons, Nicholas and Henry, aged three and two, with Nicholas giving his occupation as ‘Merchant’. In May 1856 a notice in the Cork Constitution announced the birth of a daughter to the wife of Nicholas Howell at Lake Shore Toronto; this may have been Henrietta.

The next record found was in England when the death was announced in February 1871 in the Liverpool Mail of Nicholas Howell, aged fifty-five. In the 1871 census held in early April Mary B. Howell was living in Wallasley, Birkenhead, a widow, with five children, Nicholas, Henry, William, Henrietta and Elizabeth W (presumably Ida W). There are no reports on when the family had moved to England from Canada, though the three boys were established as ‘Bookkeepers’ in various businesses. Henrietta was aged fifteen and Elizabeth / Ida was thirteen.

Again there is a gap in the records until the 1890s when both Mary B. and Nicholas Alfred appeared in the Cheshire Electoral Records, living at Eton Cottage, Park Street in Wallasley. Those records stop in 1896 and in the 1901 Irish census Mary B. and her son Nicholas and daughters Henrietta and Ida Wigmore were living in Ivy Bank, Lislee, Courtmacsherry, Co Cork. There were no Church of Ireland Wigmores in the Irish censuses, so it would appear that none of Mary’s family were living in Ireland. Mary died in June 1904 at the age of eighty and Nicholas Alfred died in July 1917, leaving all his money, £1823, to his two sisters.

What happened next was explained in court in January 1919 when an application was made to probate Ida’s will. The two sisters wrote their wills on the 28th August 1918, appointing Mr David Hall and the Rev James Walter Forde as executors. In an affidavit to the court Mr Hall said that he had been acting as an agent to Henrietta and Ida Howell since the death of their brother. Because of their small income, and for other reasons, he had obtained a house for them in an institution known as ‘Whitely’s Village’ in Walton-on-Thames, England where they would live free of rent and other expenses and receive a small annuity. He had arranged all the details of their change of residence and had given Ida £9 and Henrietta £3 in Treasury notes, together with their tickets to London via Kingstown and Holyhead. They left Cork on Wednesday 9th and intended to stay the night in the Pier Hotel, Kingstown before crossing to Holyhead.

Henrietta and Ida Howell never reached Holyhead, both losing their lives in the sinking of RMS Leinster. Henrietta’s body was brought ashore, but Ida’s was never recovered. In a notice in the Cork Examiner on the 17th October announcing the women’s deaths a request was made that “the gentleman who identified the remains of Miss Henrietta Howell in the morgue [would] communicate with Graham Goold, Solicitor, Cork”. The identity of that gentleman is unknown.

Henrietta was buried in Mount Jerome cemetery in Dublin, in an unmarked grave.



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