The Sinking of the R.M.S. Leinster

People on board

Sarah Wilson Johnston

JOHNSTON, Sarah Wilson née Lyle

Sarah Wilson Lyle was born on the 22nd of May 1879 in Newhaven, Leith, Edinburgh to William Lyle and Margaret Beveridge. In the 1881 census the family were living at Afflecks Brae in the fishing village of Newhaven, where William was a Fisherman. Sarah was the youngest of their seven children at that time. Margaret Lyle died in 1886 and the family cannot be found in the 1891 census.

In June 1899 Sarah Lyle married Walter Johnston in Newhaven. Twins, William and Walter, were born in 1903 and another son Norman was born in 1910. On the marriage certificate Walter gave his occupation as Stone Mason and in the 1901 census as ‘Mason Hewer’. At that stage they were living in Arthur Street but by 1911 they had moved to a tenement, 31 Promenade in Portobello where they had five rooms. The family stayed at that address until the 1930s.

Walter Johnston enlisted in the Scottish Horse but as his military records have not been found, it is not known when. However three brigades of the Scottish Horse Regiment moved to Ireland in April 1918 and it is surmised that Sarah was visiting him in Ireland in October 1918. She travelled on RMS Leinster on the 10th of October and appears to have been on her own. She did not survive the sinking but her body was recovered and taken to the Dublin Morgue.

Records of Corrigan Undertakers in Dublin show that Peter Corrigan was the Informant on her death certificate and that he organised the transfer of her body back to Edinburgh by the London and North Western Rail Boat. The Edinburgh Evening News of the 17th of October reported that “great crowds in the streets of Portobello witnessed the funeral”. She was buried in Piershill Cemetery in Portobello. The newspaper described Sergeant Walter Johnston as “the boat hirer at Portobello and a prominent athlete”.





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