The Sinking of the R.M.S. Leinster

People on board

Joseph Verner


Joseph Verner was born in Belfast on the 24th of July 1887 to Martin Verner and Anne Pentleton, the youngest of their children. Martin and Anne were married in 1968 and their eldest child, John Alexander, was born in 1869. Five more children, including Joseph, have been identified but there may have been others. Martin Verner was an Iron Moulder and the family lived in various streets in the Shankill Road area, as well as spending some time in Newry. They were in Urney Street when Joseph was born and it was there that Martin Verner died in 1898, aged fifty.

In the 1901 census Annie Verner was living with Joseph and his older sister Alice in Wilton Steet, both of whom were ‘Linen Mill Workers’. Alice married in 1905 and Joseph married Henrietta Callender in April 1904. Their first child, Martin, was born in 1905 but died the following year. A second son, Joseph Ferguson, was born in 1907 but only lived for two and a half years. During this time they were living in the Shankill Road area as were Joseph’s brothers John, Martin and Samuel.

In the 1911 census Henrietta, named as Hennie, was living in Argyle Street with Joseph’s brother Samuel and his family but Joseph himself cannot be found in any census. In November 1912 Henrietta gave birth to an unnamed child in the Belfast Workhouse on the Malone Road, Joseph was named as the father but of an ‘Unknown address’. It is not known if this child survived but Henrietta died in the Workhouse in July 1917.

In August 1917 Samuel Verner’s eldest son William Martin was killed in France while serving with the Inniskilling Fusiliers, though the family did not get confirmation of his death until January 1918. In March of that year Martin Verner’s wife died of consumption, aged thirty-eight.

Joseph Verner’s transcript of his military service shows that he enlisted in the Irish Guards in Limerick, under the name of Joseph Pendleton, his mother’s maiden name, though spelled slightly differently. He gave an address in Rosyth, Fife, Scotland as his residence, and he was posted to the 3rd Reserve Battalion which was based at Warley Barracks in Essex. His Soldiers’ Effects record shows that he enlisted on the seventh of October 1918, and that his next of kin was Annie Verner. On his way to Essex he travelled on RMS Leinster but he did not survive the sinking. However his body was recovered and he was buried in Grangegorman Military Cemetery in Dublin.

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission gave the name of his widow as ‘Annie Verner’, with an address at 56 Mount Brown, Dublin. His Pension Ledger and Index Card gave the name of ‘A. Verner’ and an address of 7 Brankholme Lane, Rosyth, though this is dated July 1919. No marriage certificate has been located as yet so these details cannot be confirmed.



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