The Sinking of the R.M.S. Leinster

People on board

Francis Riley

RILEY, Francis

Francis Riley was sixty-two and returning to England on RMS Leinster on 10 October 1918 when the ship was torpedoed and he lost his life. Born in 1856 in Liverpool, he was the fourth of six children born to James Riley and his wife Margaret. Both James and Margaret had been born in Ireland, James in County Down, and they were in Liverpool at least from the time of their first born, James, in 1844. In the 1861 census James’s occupation was a ‘Carter’ and by the 1881 census he was a ‘Master Carter employing 5 men and 1 boy’. The family lived in the Toxteth Park district of the city. Margaret died sometime between 1871 and 1881 and in the same period their eldest son was ordained a Roman Catholic Priest.

In 1886 Francis Riley married Irish born Rose Ann Loftus in York and they had two children, Mary in 1887 and James in 1888. In the 1891 census James Snr. was described as ‘Team Leader’ and Francis as ‘Assistant Team Leader’. This would appear to mean that they were the Owners/Managers of the firm known as ‘James Riley and Co.’ dealing in cotton and cotton waste. The newspaper notice of Francis’s death in 1918 gave the address of the firm as ‘Irwell Chambers’ on Fazakerley Street in the docks area. James died in 1893 at the age of seventy nine and Rose died five years later aged thirty nine. In the following censuses in 1901 and 1911 Francis continued to be described as ‘Team Leader’, while in 1911 his son James was a ‘Cotton Salesman’. Mary was not with them in 1911 but Francis’s eldest brother, Very Rev J.R. Riley, was there.

It was James who organized the funeral and grave in Glasnevin cemetery where Francis was laid to rest after the sinking. His address then was Denton Drive, Wallasey. The death was reported in the Liverpool Echo where it was also reported that Requiem Mass would be said at St. Mary’s, Highfield Street, Liverpool.


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