Master Francis Rice

Francis Rice

Master Francis Rice1 was born in Spokane, Washington on 13 September 1909.2

He was the son of an English father from Surrey, William Rice (b. 1876), and an Irish mother from Athlone, Margaret Norton (b. 1872). His father, a British soldier, had been stationed in Ireland where he met and married his mother Margaret, a factory worker, on 18 June 1898.

One of six sons born to his parents, his siblings were: William (1898-1898), Albert (b. 1902), George (b. 1903), Eric (b. 1905) and Arthur (b. 1907).
His eldest brother William (b. 1898) died after less than two months of life, dying tragically after choking on his pacifier. His parents had crossed the Irish sea to his father's native London where they lived for a short while. The family later migrated to Canada, first to Montréal and then to Ontario, before crossing into the USA in January 1909, settling in Spokane, Washington where he was born.

The family made their home at Hillyard, Spokane; his father, a labourer on Great Northern tracks at Hillyard, was crushed by an engine on 24 January 1910 and later died at the Sacred Heart Hospital. 

Francis, his mother and his siblings appear on the 1910 US census living at 435 Sheridan Street, Hillyard, Spokane. The family soon returned to Ireland where they still had relatives and they appear on the 1911 census living at Castle Street in Athlone, Co Westmeath, Ireland. With perhaps the stay in Ireland not intended to be permanent the family soon made plans to return to Spokane, perhaps convinced to do so by several others from their locality who would be making a crossing of the Atlantic aboard Titanic.

Other people from in or around Athlone that Margaret and her sons would be travelling with included: Eugene Daly, Bridget Mulvihill, Margaret Daly and Bridget Henry. She and her sons travelled under ticket number 382652 which had cost £29, 2s, 6d and they boarded Titanic at Queenstown as third class passengers.

On the night of the sinking Bridget Mulvihill, also from Athlone, reported that she saw Mrs Rice stood on either the boat deck or A-deck, clutching her youngest son to her breast and with the other boys holding on to her skirts. The entire family was lost in the sinking and only Mrs Rice's body (#12) was recovered by the Mackay Bennett and identified.

It was long speculated that the body of the unidentified child recovered from the Atlantic may have been Francis Rice; the men who recovered the body were so moved by the sight of the young boy that they paid to have a monument erected to him for his burial in Halifax, Nova Scotia. The boy remained anonymous for many years but was later identified as another third class passenger, Sidney Goodwin

Notes

  1. Often listed as Eugene Francis Rice but his birth record states his name only as Francis; he is listed on the 1910 and 1911 censuses as Frank. 
  2. Date as per Washington Birth Index; often stated as 13 October 1909.
 

Pictures

Margaret Rice and her five sons
Irish Independent  (1912) 
MARGARET RICE AND HER FIVE SONS
 

Articles and Stories

Titanica! (2011) 
THE FINAL IDENTIFICATION OF THE UNKNOWN CHILD OF THE TITANIC BURIED AS BODY NO. 4 ON MAY 4, 1912 IN THE FAIRVIEW LAWN CEMETERY OF HALIFAX, NOVA SCOTIA
(2011) 
 

Credits

Gavin Bell, UK
Ross Carter, UK
Alan Hustak, Canada
Noel Ray, Eire
Alan Ruffman, Canada
Garry Shutlak, Canada

References and Sources

Contract Ticket List, White Star Line 1912 (National Archives, New York; NRAN-21-SDNYCIVCAS-55[279]) 
Record of Bodies and Effects: Passengers and Crew, S.S. Titanic (Public Archives of Nova Scotia) (#12)
List of Bodies Unidentified and Disposition of Same (#12)
Unidentified Newspaper, 25 January 1910
Westmeath Independent (2011), The Athlone Six Who Never Came Home, 25 November 2011
Search archive British and Irish newspapers online

Link and cite this biography

(2018) Francis Rice Encyclopedia Titanica (ref: #1158, updated 9th November 2018 14:44:25 PM)
URL : https://www.encyclopedia-titanica.org/titanic-victim/francis-rice.html

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