People on board
OSBORNE, Francis Charles
Francis Charles Osborne was a gentleman from Smithstown, Co. Meath. He was 76 when he survived the sinking of the Leinster. He was a well-to-do Church of Ireland landowner and Justice of the Peace. He married Annie Sarah Baker, née Baker, a widow in November 1881 and they had 7 children, amongst them, Annie, Dorothea, Edward, John, Geoffrey, though some of their names were not registered on their births. Though the couple married in Dublin, Francis came from Smithstown House near Julianstown in Co. Meath. The family also had a house on Vincent Square in London.
When Francis boarded the Leinster, the family was still grieving the loss of their son Geoffrey William Osborne, an RAF pilot who was shot down in France in June 1918 aged 26.
When the torpedo hit, Francis did not manage to get into a boat but instead clung to the upturned keel until he was rescued. A Birmingham newspaper noted that he was a High Court Judge in the “Soudan”.
Though Francis survived the sinking of the Leinster, he died of pneumonia just 3 months later in January 1919. Given his age, it seems very possible that this pneumonia came from his time in the water after the disaster. His wife and remaining 5 children outlived him. Annie administered his estate. Smithstown House was sold by the family in the 1920s and more recently in 2015, where an article in the Meath Chronicle noted that Francis was known locally as “Bowsy” Osborne.
Text: Claire Bradley