The Sinking of the R.M.S. Leinster

People on board

William Henry Wakefield

WAKEFIELD, William Henry

William Henry Wakefield was born in 1883 in Newtownforbes, Co Longford to William Henry Wakefield and Louisa Adelaide Macdona. Louisa was born in Co Dublin and the couple were married in 1879 in North Dublin. There were three children born, Frederick in 1881 and George in 1886, bracketing William, all born in Newtownforbes. Their father’s occupation was given as ‘Grocer’ or ‘Merchant’ on the birth certificates. In October 1886 William Snr’s father Charles, Land Steward to the Earl of Granard, died tragically of a gunshot wound. Shortly afterwards William moved his family to Dublin where he worked as a Bank Clerk and they lived in Sandymount. However in April of 1887 he contracted typhoid and died in the Mater Hospital, aged just twenty-nine.

Post Office PlaqueIn Sept 1889 William and his brother Frederick (aged 6 and 8) were found destitute and homeless in Longford town and after a number of court hearings they were sent to St Peters Industrial School for homeless and destitute children until they were 16 years old. By the time of the 1901 census the young family were split up. Louisa was Matron in the Union Workhouse in Ballinlough, near Dunshaughlin, Co Meath and with her was the nineteen-year-old Frederick, a ‘Printers Reader’.

Meanwhile William and George were Boarders in a house in Rutland Square (now Parnell Square) in Dublin city. William’s occupation was a ‘Clerk’ while George was a ‘Scholar’.

Louisa died in 1903 aged only forty-four, and whereas the 1901 census said she was married, on her death cert she was described as a widow. Frederick married Jane Duffy in September 1910 with William as a witness. The 1911 census saw William again as a Boarder on Drumcondra Road, a ‘Sorter in G[eneral] Post Office. He married in October 1911, to Agnes Maguire of Arden Cottage, Tullamore and they went on to have four children, Charles Henry, William Frederick, Louisa Mary and Agnes Teresa, the latter born in early 1918. The family were living in Dargle Road, Drumcondra when the first two children were born, then moving to Russell Avenue and by 1918 they were at 162 Botanic Avenue.

William was working on the Leinster on the 10th October 1918 sorting the mail with twenty-one other Post Office workers and their compartment took a direct hit from the second torpedo. Only three of the sorters got out of the compartment and only one survived.

William Wakefield’s body was not recovered. He had fourteen years’ service with the Post Office. His name is inscribed on the plaque to the Sorters in the Post Office in Dun Laoghaire and in the GPO in Dublin.


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