Encyclopedia Titanica

Louis Kinsella

Mr Louis Kinsella (sometimes listed as Lewis) was born in Liverpool, Lancashire, England on 10 September 1881 and was baptised 9 days later in Our Lady of Reconciliation Church. 

He was the son of Richard Kinsella (1844-1930) and Rose Anne Clarke (1857-1946). Louis' father, a marine fireman, was a native of Dublin, Ireland and his mother from Liverpool and they married in Liverpool several months before his birth on 23 June 1881 in the same church where he was later baptised. 

He was one of eight children born to his parents, his siblings being: Mary (b. 1884), Bernard (b. 1885), George (b. 1888), Elizabeth Ann (b. 1891), Margaret (b. 1894), Edward (b. 1896) and Ellen (b. 1898).

Louis and his family appear on the 1891 census living at 29 Barmouth Street, Liverpool; by the time of the 1901 census Louis and his family were living at 9 Penistone Terrace, Liverpool and he was then described as a steamship stoker.

He first appears on record as a trimmer aboard the Pinemore in January 1899, stating his address at the time as 29 Steel Street and later that year was a trimmer aboard Maplemore. By September 1902, and giving his address as 86 Boundary Street, Kinsella was a trimmer aboard the Hanoverian. He appears as a fireman on an April 1907 voyage of the Majestic, his address at the time being listed as 27 Rachael Street.

Louis was married in St Anthony's Church, Liverpool on 23 September 1903 to Ann Barbara Barlow (b. 31 July 1884 in Liverpool). The marriage was troubled from the outset and only a week later Louis reportedly left the home and went to sea for four years, his wife reportedly not hearing from him during that period. 

Later returning home for various intervals from around 1907, following a voyage in 1909 and during a stay at home he "broke up the home," he going away again and only sending support money intermittently. Later that year, following another short voyage, Kinsella returned home and was confronted by his wife who demanded to know what he was going to do for she and her children. Under the influence of alcohol, an argument ensued and Louis picked up a blade and stabbed his wife; his actions earned him two months' imprisonment. After that Mrs Kinsella reportedly never saw her husband again; curiously though he is listed on the 1911 census, described as a marine fireman and living with wife Barbara and three children at 24 St Martin's Place, Liverpool.

Kinsella's prolonged absences from his home place raise several questions; that of his appearance on the 1911 census and that of the three children reported at the time: Rose Ann (b. 5 February 1904), Julia (b. 16 August 1905) and John (b. 11 July 1908). He was listed as the father of Rose Ann and Julia when they were both baptised in St Sylvester's, Liverpool; a baptismal record for John has not been identified. Another child, although unidentified, apparently died in early infancy. It was only after Louis' death that his widow made the confession that the children were, unsurprisingly, not his and that they had been fathered by another seaman by the name of John Riley. 

When Louis signed on to the Titanic he gave his address as 7 Canal Walk, Southampton. His previous ship had been the Aragon. Kinsella and his colleagues Lloyd, Geer, Witt, Black and Hosgood were taken on as substitutes at the last minute after six of the "signed-on" crew arrived late for the sailing.

Louis Kinsella died in the sinking and his body, if recovered, was never identified. His widow's claims for compensation were later disqualified:


A case in which the widow of a Titanic fireman named Lewis Kinsella was proven to have, by her conduct, debarred herself from any claim to compensation, came before Judge Shand in the Liverpool County Court yesterday. The parents of the dead man claimed to rank as dependents, and the White Star Company paid into the court on their behalf £58, 10s. The company, however, declined to acknowledge the dependency of the widow Barbara Kinsella, who claimed to be entitled to compensation allowance. Mr (
illegibile) (instructed by Messrs Lynskey and Sons appears for Mrs Kinsella, Mr A. H. Maxwell (instructed by Messrs Weightman Pedder, and Company) represented the White Star Company, and Mr Hill Dickinson for the parents...
... In cross-examination by Mr Maxwell, Mrs Maxwell admitted having had three children by another seaman named Riley, but she denied that Riley supported her or had lived with her.
The judge said that obviously the widow was not a dependent of the deceased, and after hearing arguments by counsel, he ruled that the children also were not dependents. The woman had never intended to look to her husband for their support.
The £58, 10s was ordered to be paid to the parents.
(Liverpool Echo, 6 July 1912)

With financial assistance denied, Barbara Kinsella was later remarried the following year on 23 July 1913 in St Sylvester's Church to John Riley (b. 9 October 1872), the father of her children. She continued to live in Liverpool, her 1939 address being listed as 52 Doncaster Street and her last address as 55 Latimer Street. She lived a long life and died in Liverpool on 2 February 1975 aged 90.

Her daughter Rose Ann was married in 1923 to Walter Herbert Wilson and had six children, one of which (Louis b. 1926) was named after his lost "grandfather". Rose Kinsella Wilson died aged 36 in Liverpool in 1940.

Julia Kinsella was married in 1928 to Denis O'Brien (b. 1902), a ship's fireman and had a large family, again one child being named Louis (b. 1929); Julia died in Liverpool in 1969. 

What became of John Kinsella is uncertain; he may have married and died in Liverpool in the 1980s although this is not clear and there is a possibility he died as a child.

Titanic Crew Summary

Name: Mr Louis Kinsella
Age: 30 years 7 months and 5 days (Male)
Nationality: English
Marital Status: Married to Ann Barbara Barlow
Occupation: Fireman
Embarked: Southampton
Died in the Titanic disaster (15th April 1912)
Body Not Identified

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Comment and discuss

  1. Steven Hutton

    Steven Hutton said:

    Louis was my great, great grandfather, we are all very sad that his death. RIP Louis xxx Steven, Hayley and Great, great, great grandchildren Holly, Brooke & Charlie

  2. Alex Dow

    Alex Dow said:

    Louis Kinsella appears on the Ellis Island Records as a "Stowaway" on the BALTIC in 1909, along with a second person, whom if I remember correctly was a "Newspaper Vendor" or similar.LK gave his Father's Name and Address for his "Next of Kin", although already married etc.Being "Stowaways" they do not appear on the Ship's Manifest for Departures, submitted to the Board of Trade.

  3. Paul Dickinson

    Paul Dickinson said:

    Louis was my grandmother's brother. Her name was Elizabeth Ann Kinsella.

  4. Paul Dickinson

    Paul Dickinson said:

    Louis also was deported from Boston in 1905 on the RMS Arabic, as a stowaway. He was also listed as "deserting" the SS Maplemore in 1899. Also in 1907 he was listed as "deserting" the RMS Majestic. He is shown on the crew list for the SS Pinemore in 1899 and the SS Rowamore in 1901. His wages were £4 for working as a "trimmer". In 1902 he was listed as crew on the "Hanoverian".

  5. Paul Dickinson

    Paul Dickinson said:

    My grandmother (Elizabeth Ann) was Louis' sister...

  6. Roz Banks

    Roz Banks said:

    Louis Kinsella was married to my 2nd cousin 3x removed Rose Anne Clarke, the Clarke family originated from Co Meath in Ireland. Findmypast and Ancestry websites have lots of Titanic documents connected to Louis Kinsella.

  7. Roz Banks

    Roz Banks said:

    Thanks for this information on Louis Kinsella, I was not aware of his maritime history before his death on the Titanic

  8. Trevor chen

    Trevor chen said:

    Richard kinsella married Rose. Louis was their son.

  9. Layla rakeeb

    Layla rakeeb said:

    Rose Ann Kinsella Wilson was my grandads mother and we have always been told Louis Kinsella was her father could anybody give me more info please,

  10. Matt Thompson

    Matt Thompson said:

    I can confirm Julia was Louis daughter as I am connected through DNA to her Grandchild, so this contradicts the claim the children or at least one was somebody else’s. His Mother Rose Ann was my 3x Great Grandfather’s (James) Sister.

  11. Trevor chen

    Trevor chen said:

    There is an article that suggests that Louis's children weren't his with Barbara Barlow. Which upset me because it meant I wasn't related to Louis. But out of the blue a nice lady from the kinsella side of the family contacted my sister through DNA testing say that they were related. So Louis and Barbara had juliia. Julia had Joan. And Joan had me.

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Gavin Bell, UK