The Sinking of the R.M.S. Leinster

People on board

Alfred Curzon White King

KING, Alfred Curzon White

Alfred Curzon White King, known as Bob, was born on the 14th December 1902, along with his twin sister Geraldine Sophie. Like all except one of their five siblings, they were born in India where their father, Lucas White King, was an administrator in the Indian Civil Service, rising to Commissioner of the Rawalpindi Division. Their mother, Geraldine Harmsworth, born in Dublin, was the daughter of a barrister and sister of two newspaper magnates, Viscounts Northcliffe and Rothermere, owners of the Daily Mail and Daily Mirror.

In the 1901 census the family were together in Poynter’s Hall in Hertfordshire, the home of Geraldine Harmsworth’s mother, where a son, Cecil was born that year. They went back to India, but Geraldine returned for good in 1903 with the twins and the rest of the children. Lucas White King retired from the Civil Service in 1905 and the family moved to Dublin, taking Roebuck Hall in Dundrum, though keeping the English house as well. Lucas King was appointed Professor of Oriental Languages in Trinity College Dublin the same year.

The 1911 census for Roebuck Hall shows that the family employed a governess for the children. Bob was particularly interested in insects and, at the age of thirteen, wrote and illustrated an article on butterflies which was published in a children’s journal. In May 1915 the eldest son, Luke St Aubyn King, was killed at Ypres, having just returned to the front after another injury. In September of that year Bob was sent to Copthorne School in West Sussex, going on to Winchester College the following year, as his older brothers had done.

In October 1918 Bob King was returning to Winchester, his older brother Cecil having taken the boat on the previous day, possibly a deliberate plan by their mother. When RMS Leinster was torpedoed and sunk Bob King went down with the ship and did not survive, nor was his body recovered. He is commemorated on a memorial in Winchester College and on his parent’s gravestone in Aboyne, Aberdeenshire where they had moved to in the early 1920s.



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