The Sinking of the R.M.S. Leinster

People on board

John William Smith

SMITH, John William

John Smith was born in 1868, third son of John and Hannah Smith from Leeds, Yorkshire. He enlisted in Leeds with the West Yorkshire Regiment in 1886 at the age of eighteen, giving his previous occupation as ‘Labourer’. He appears to have been discharged and re-enlisted on a number of occasions, with a final discharge in 1912. In 1890 he married Mary Maguire, a dressmaker from Co Wexford who was living in Kingstown. He gave his occupation as ‘Coachman’ and his address as Bowden Park, Multifarnham (sic), but he also named his father as Joseph Smith, which contradicts the information given on his death notice.

John and Mary lived in Patrick Street and then in Kelly’s Cottages until about 1902 during which time the couple had six children. His occupation was given as ‘Coachman’, ‘Gardener’ and ‘Van Driver’ and the 1901 census listed him as ‘Van Man’. From 1903 until 1907 they lived in Cross Avenue and then moved to 17 Desmond Avenue, which remained the family home for several decades. They had ten children born in total by the time of the 1911 census, with all ten alive, and his occupation was ‘Stoker on Steamer (Mail Boat)’.

From 1905 John’s occupation had been ‘Fireman’ or ‘Stoker’ and it was as a ‘Greaser’ that he was employed on the RMS Leinster on the 10th October 1918. He lost his life that day, but his body was recovered and identified by his son John William.  Unlike many who drowned that day John Smith has a death certificate, which states that “drowning probably” was the cause of death and that there had been no inquest.

The newspaper notice of his death gave the details of his parents, and asked that New Zealand papers would copy. He was buried in Deansgrange cemetery and every alternate year from 1924 until 1934 an In Memoriam notice was published in the Evening Herald from his wife and children. 17 Desmond Avenue continued to be the address. Mary died in Loughlinstown Hospital in 1952 aged eighty four; she was buried in Deansgrange cemetery with John William.


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