The Sinking of the R.M.S. Leinster

People on board

Mary Katharine Parkes

PARKES, Mary Katharine (Molly)

Mary Katharine Parkes, known as Molly, was born on the 13th of November 1898 in Guernsey, Channel Islands to Henry Parkes and Annie Katharine Bell. Henry, a Civil Engineer, had earlier married Lily Bell Abrahams in 1882 in Jamaica, West Indies and they had a son, Francis Jardine, in 1884. It is presumed that Lily died and Henry returned to England with his young son. He then married Annie in London in 1894 and their first son, Theodore David, was born in Kingston upon Thames in 1895. They moved to Guernsey where another son, James, was born in 1897 followed by Mary Katharine.

In 1901 the family, including Francis Jardine, was living in Les Fauconnaires in central Guernsey where Henry gave his occupation as ‘Civil Engineer and Fruit Grower’. By 1911 Henry was again a widower and was living with his sister, sister-in-law and three teenaged children. The two boys were attending Elizabeth College in St Peter Port, but it is not known where Molly was being educated.

Her brother Theodore was at Oxford in 1914 but enlisted at the beginning of the war and was given a commission in 1915 with the South Staffordshire Regiment. He was made a Captain in July 1917 but was killed in action in Belgium in October 1917. A report on his death in a Guernsey newspaper said that his brother James had recently been home on leave. James survived the war. The newspaper report also said that Henry Parkes was then “engaged in war work on the mainland”.

It is not known why Molly Parkes, then aged twenty, was on board RMS Leinster on the 10th of October 1918. She did not survive the sinking, nor was her body recovered, but the subsequent probate of her Will gave her address as Ladies College, Cheltenham. Whether she was there as a pupil or staff member is not known, but it explains why she was not in Guernsey.

Both Theodore and Molly are remembered on a family memorial in Foulon cemetery in Guernsey. Their mother’s name is also inscribed. According to a newspaper report Henry Parkes died peacefully in his sleep in Guernsey in 1944, aged eighty-six.




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