The Sinking of the R.M.S. Leinster

People on board

Harriet Frances Maxwell

MAXWELL, Harriet Frances née Middleton

Harriet Frances Middleton was born on the 2nd of July 1853 to William Alexander Middleton and Harriet Margaret Kavanagh. She was born in Borris Castle, Borris, Co Carlow, the seat of her mother’s family, the McMurrough Kavanaghs. Harriett was the second of the ten Middleton children, most born outside Ireland. William Middleton was a Captain in the Royal Artillery at his marriage, rising to Colonel. He was active in the Indian Mutiny and was wounded at the relief of Lucknow and was rewarded with promotion and a C. B. Two daughters were born in India and a son in Mauritius before the family returned to England.

The family was living in Wandsworth, London in 1871 though Harriet, then aged eighteen, was not with them. In 1878 she married Robert James Maxwell, originally from Co Limerick, a Major in the army, having served in India and later in his career promoted to Colonel. Their marriage ceremony took place in the Chapel Royal, Hampton Court Palace where one of her sisters occupied apartments. A son, Robert William, was born in 1879 when they were living in Kensington. Another son, Evan Alexander, was born in 1886 but died shortly after. At this stage they appear to have been living either in, or close to, Hampton Court Palace. Another son, Power McMurrough, was born in 1892. Harriet’s 1911 census information states that she had had four children, two of them having died, but the second of these has not been identified.

Robert James Maxwell died in 1902, aged sixty-four, and in 1908 Harriet moved into Apartment 14, Clerk of the Spicerie’s Lodgings, in Hampton Court Palace, granted to her following the death of her husband. In 1911 she was there with a younger sister, Grace Selina. Her younger son Power McMurrough was gazetted 2nd Lieutenant in the Royal Field Artillery in 1912 and served with the Expeditionary Force in France and Flanders from August 1914. He was promoted Major in 1916 but was killed in action in October 1917 during the Ypres advance.

Harriet Maxwell was reported to have travelled to Ireland to visit her cousin, Baroness de Robeck, in Osberstown, Sallins, Co Kildare and to have taken a berth on RMS Leinster on the 10th of October 1918 for her return. She did not survive the sinking nor was her body recovered. Her Will was finally probated in February 1919 following a decision in the London Probate Court. Her son, Robert William, did not marry, dying in 1955.



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