People on board
Robert Keown was born about 1852 in Rathfriland, Co Down, a town ten miles from Newry. His father, also Robert, and mother, Sarah Martin had married in 1845. Robert was one of three children, Samuel Martin was probably the eldest, and Sarah the youngest. Samuel later emigrated to South Africa, dying in Cape Town in 1933. Robert Snr. was a Carpenter and very involved in their local Church of Ireland parish, as was Robert Jnr. at a later date.
In August 1885 Robert married Elizabeth Jane Woodney, daughter of a Grocer, at her home in Carlingford. Robert gave his occupation as ‘Draper’, but when Elizabeth died just five years later, he described himself as a ‘Commission Agent’. There do not appear to be any children of that marriage. Robert remarried in June 1892 in Belfast to Sarah Gordon White, daughter of Rev Robert White who had been Rector in Rathfriland, and who had been present at the death of Robert’s father. Robert had moved to London at this stage, and gave his rank as ‘Merchant’, with an address at Crouch End.
Robert and Sarah lived in Crouch End in north London and had three children there, Robert White 1893, Sarah Elizabeth in 1895 and Anna Gordon in 1897.
In the 1901 census Robert described himself as the ‘Manager of a Woollen Warehouse’. This may have been the firm Messrs. Apperley, Carson & Co. Ltd. Woollen Merchants, where he was Managing Director in 1918. A fourth child, Eric Oliver Dilworth, was born in 1904 and by 1911 the family had moved to 41 Southwood Avenue, Highgate. In the census of that year Robert was in London with the three older children, while Sarah was in Margate with Eric, then aged six.
In October 1918 Robert was in Ireland on business for his firm, and visited family in Rathfriland. He was returning to England on RMS Leinster on the 10th when the ship was sunk. He did not survive the sinking but his body was recovered and identified in the morgue. His funeral was in Mount Jerome cemetery in Dublin on Wednesday the 16th.
Robert’s son was fighting in the war as a Captain with the Buffs, but he was present at the funeral. He re-joined that regiment as a Major in the Second World War, and was killed at Dunkirk in 1940. The three older children all married in the early 1920s, and Eric, who became Drama Critic for Punch magazine, married in 1931. Sarah died in 1927 and she was buried beside Robert in Mount Jerome cemetery.
Photographs courtesy of Keown Family