The Sinking of the R.M.S. Leinster

People on board

William Henry Thompson

THOMPSON, William Henry (Sir)

William Henry Thompson was born on the 17th of August 1860 at Ballynulty, Granard, Co Longford to William Thompson and Mary Anne Hannah. He was the second of five children, four boys and one girl. William Thompson Snr. was an active member of the Methodist Society in the Longford Circuit, whose ancestors had been converted by John Wesley at Cleghill, near Longford. The eldest son, John Caldwell Thompson, an engineer and Assistant County Surveyor was the Senior Circuit Steward in Longford. The two younger sons emigrated to the U.S.

William Jnr. had a distinguished scientific career, beginning in Dundalk Grammar School and Queen’s College, Galway. An appointment in Trinity College, Dublin was followed by some years studying in Europe and he was then appointed Dunville Professor of Physiology in Queen’s College Belfast in 1893. In 1894 he married Isabel Redfern, daughter of the late Professor of Anatomy at Queen’s, and they had three daughters, twins Muriel and Violet, and Kathleen. In the 1901 census the family was living in Deramore Park, not far from the University

In 1902 they moved to Dublin where William had been appointed Professor of Institutes of Medicine in the School of Physics in Trinity College. They lived in Hatch Street, close to Stephen’s Green, and another daughter Daphne was born in 1902 and a son, Henry, in 1905.

His favourite recreations apparently, were cycling and tennis. In his work he specialised in food metabolism and nutrition and, for this reason, in 1914 he was brought to London as scientific adviser to the drafting of schemes for food rationing. For this work he was awarded a K.B.E. in January 1918.

It was in connection with this work for the Ministry of Food that Sir William Thompson was travelling on RMS Leinster on the 10th of October 1918. He did not survive the sinking and his body was not recovered. In 1935 Lady Thompson presented a portrait of her late husband to Trinity College.


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