The Atkins/Atkinson Ancestors, Dublin and England.
My maternal grandfather, William Atkinson, was born in the small maritime town of Rye in Sussex, in the south of England and I have had much success in tracing his ancestors there using mainly the English Census Returns9 and the English G.R.O. He was a merchant seaman and by 1912 he was working for an Irish shipping line, Michael Murphy Ltd., and served on the steamship S.S. Rosaleen10. This steamship was built in Dublin in 190811. Although related, Michael Murphy Ltd. worked independently from the Palgrave Murphy partnership and became a successful business, mainly carrying bulk coal from England. William soon met my grandmother, Margaret Adamson, and on the 24th May, 1914 they were married in St. Michael and John’s Church, Dublin. They lived in 17 Upper Exchange Street with her parents and family, and in a few months their first daughter, Mary Anne, was born.
Within weeks, the First World War commenced and all merchant ships soon came under government control. On 22th July 1915 the SS (RFA) Rosaleen was requisioned by the Admiralty to supplement the Royal Navy ships. My grandmother always claimed that he was seriously injured in 1915 in the Dardanelle straits during the failed Gallipoli invasions, but I have been unable to prove this as records of Irish merchant shipping used in the war have practically all been destroyed12, . A website shows that the ship arrived in Aden on 23rd April 1916 which was just 2 months before he died13,. I do have in my possession a Discharge Certificate for a Royal Navy Hospital in Portland, which was an important navy base, on the south England coast. It states that he was discharged for duty on the MFA Rosaleen after just 2 days there. However by June, 1916 he was in Mercer’s Hospital, Dublin and he died on the 20th. He was 28 years of age. His wife, Margaret, at 26 years of age, was now a widow and on the 27th July, my mother, also Margaret, was born. I also have some letters from the Admiralty to his wife. He was buried in an unmarked grave in Glasnevin Cemetery14. In the turbulent years that followed, he was never spoken of.
9 English Census Returns available online at http://www.ancestry.co.uk , Nov 2009.
10 Cornelius F. Smith, The Shipping Murphys, Published 2004, Albany Press, Dublin.
11 Pat Sweeney, Liffey Ships, First Edition 2010, The Mercier Press, Cork, page 76.
12 Information received from Mr. Cornelius F. Smith, Editor of The Shipping Murphys.
13 Available on the following website -
14 Record Search for Glasnevin Cemetery available online at http://www.glasnevintrust.ie , 8 Nov. 2010.
Left, William and Margaret Atkinson with their first daughter, Mary Anne.
Above, Margaret Atkinson, formerly Adamson.
William Atkinson in uniform.
Hospital Discharge Certificate, Royal Navy Hospital, Portland.