Corry, Alexander

Corry, Alexander

First Engineer (Engineer Lieutenant RNR)

Mercantile Marine SS W M Barkley (Belfast)

Died as a result of enemy action on Friday 12 October 1917 (aged 48)

No known grave (lost at sea)


Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Tower Hill Memorial, London

Family grave headstone in Movilla Cemetery, Newtownards

Family grave headstone in Belfast City Cemetery

Clontarf Presbyterian Church, Dublin

Dublin City & County Book of Honour

Journey of Remembering Belfast Book of Honour


First Engineer Alexander Corry is commemorated on the family grave headstone in Movilla Cemetery, Newtownards.

Alexander Corry was born 7 December 1868 at 28 Spencer Street, Belfast (the date 30 November 1868 is inscribed on the headstone in Movilla Cemetery) and he was a son of Hugh and Ellen Corry (nee Kirkpatrick) who were married on 15 February 1868 in Newtownards Parish Church of Ireland Church (St. Mark’s).  Hugh Corry, a carpenter, was a son of Alexander Corry, a carpenter.  Ellen Kirkpatrick was a daughter of Samuel Kirkpatrick who worked in the linen business.

Hugh and Ellen Corry (nee Kirkpatrick) had at least six children:

Alexander (born 7 December 1868 at 28 Spencer Street, Belfast)

Margaret (born 15 September 1870 at 28 Spencer Street, Belfast)

Ellen (Nelly, born 20 January 1873 at 28 Spencer Street, Belfast)

Female child, name not captured (born 11 December 1874 at 28 Spencer Street, Belfast)

Robert (died 7 July 1913 aged 37 – Belfast City Cemetery headstone)

William (born 31 December 1876 at 38 Spencer Street, Belfast)

Alexander Corry’s mother Ellen died of phthisis at 38 Spencer Street, Belfast on 13 April 1881 (aged 33) and his father Hugh died on 21 April 1925 (aged 85).  They were buried in Belfast City Cemetery.

Alexander Corry’s father Hugh was born in County Down, he worked as a carpenter and sawmill foreman and in 1901 he was living at 29 Brougham Street, Duncairn, Belfast.  At that time two of his children were living with him – his daughter Ellen (aged 28) and his son William, then a shipbuilding clerk, (aged 25).  Ellen Corry and William McFerran were married on 10 February 1905 and their son, Hugh Corry McFerran, was born on 25 October 1906.

Alexander Corry qualified as a marine engineer, he lived at 12 Trevelyan Terrace, Belfast and on 25 October 1906 he and Matilda (Maud) Macarthur were married in Greyabbey in ‘the residence of Dr Macarthur’.  Matilda Macarthur was a daughter of Dr Peter Macarthur who was the medical practitioner in Greyabbey.

Alexander and Matilda Corry had two children both of whom were born in Belfast:

Norah Flavelle (born 13 January 1908)

Margaret (Peggy, born 20 November 1909 at 30 Castleton Street, Belfast)

The Corry family lived at 30 Castleton Gardens in Belfast and later at 3 Victoria Villas in Clontarf, Dublin.  Neither Norah nor Peggy Corry were married and they lived in University Street, Belfast.

Alexander Corry worked as an Engineer aboard merchant ships and records show that on 7 March 1891 he arrived in Sydney, Australia aboard the Star of Victoria (Belfast) on which he was serving as Third Engineer.  He joined Arthur Guinness & Company on 1 December 1913 and served as First Engineer aboard the SS W M Barkley.  In 1914 the SS W M Barkley was requisitioned by the Admiralty and converted to a defensively-armed British Merchant Steamer used to transport cargo, mainly to France. After the SS W M Barkley was requisitioned, Alexander Corry held the rank of Engineer Lieutenant in the Royal Naval Reserve (RNR).

In 1917 the SS W M Barkley was returned to the Guinness Company (she burned a great deal of coal and needed to stop frequently for refuelling) and then on 12 October that year she was torpedoed without warning and sunk by the German submarine U-75 which was commanded by Johannes Lohs (Lohs commanded U-75 from 17 March 1917 to 30 January 1918 and he was killed on 14 August 1918 when the submarine he was then commanding – UB-57 – struck a mine).  The SS W M Barkley was on route from Dublin to Liverpool carrying a cargo of Guinness stout and she went down at 7.00 pm approximately 7 miles east from the Kish Light Vessel off the coast of Dublin.  Seven of the crew survived (one of them was Thomas McGlue) and five perished, including the Master:

Master Edward Gregory (aged 46), born in Arklow, lived in Arklow

First Engineer Alexander Corry (aged 48), born in Belfast, lived in Dublin

Second Engineer O.F. Murphy (aged 28), born in Wexford, lived in Wexford

Fireman Thomas Murphy (aged 29), born in Dublin, lived in Dublin

Able Seaman Arthur Kendall (aged 40), born in Falmouth, lived in Dublin

The SS W M Barkley was built in 1898 by the Ailsa Shipbuilding Company in Troon, Scotland.  Launched on 21 June 1898 she was 179 feet long, 27 feet wide, her engines were amidships, she weighed 569 GRT and her first owners were W M Barkley & Sons, coal merchants, Belfast.  She was bought in 1911 by John Kelly, coal merchants, Belfast and then in 1913 by Arthur Guinness & Company, Dublin.

By 1914 the Guinness St James’s Gate Brewery in Dublin had become the largest brewery in the world.  The total number of staff and employees was 3,650, and, taking account of the families of the clerks and workmen, about 11,000 people were dependent on the brewery for their livelihood.  On the outbreak of war in 1914, employees were actively encouraged to join the British forces. The Company ensured that sufficient numbers were retained to enable brewing operations to continue whilst remaining amenable to petitions to enlist from Staff.  Over 800 employees served in the British forces in World War One, serving on land, on sea and in the air all over the world. These men came from all departments in the Brewery from top management to labourers. Men employed at Guinness regional stores in Ireland and England also volunteered.  Brewery employees served mainly with the Royal Irish Fusiliers, the Royal Dublin Fusiliers, the Irish Guards, the Royal Army Medical Corps and the Royal Irish Regiment. Several employees were awarded decorations such as the Military Medal, the Military Cross, Croix de Guerre, and the Distinguished Conduct Medal.  The Company paid half wages to the soldiers’ families at home and their jobs were guaranteed when they returned. Special ‘war bonuses’ were also paid by the Company. A War Gifts Committee was established in the Brewery to dispatch parcels to men in active service.  In December 1920, a Roll of Honour was produced by the Company to ‘preserve, in a suitable form, a record of those who gave their services – and in many instances – their lives – for the defence of the Empire’. Out the 800 men who left the Company, 103 did not return.  The War also affected the daily operations of the Brewery in Dublin. The Company lent motor vehicles to Military Authorities `in case of national emergency` and horses and motor vehicles were sold to the Government.

The War also had an effect on the supply of Guinness stout. Barley growing was restricted by the government as land previously used to grow barley was increasingly required for growing foodstuffs. This resulted in a reduced availability of one of the key ingredients in Guinness stout.  The government also laid down restrictions on the amount of beer that the Brewery was allowed to produce, which directly affected the strength of the beer brewed. Restrictions on quantities were not lifted until 1919 and restrictions on the strength of beer were not lifted until 1921.

First Engineer Alexander Corry is commemorated in Clontarf Presbyterian Church, Dublin; on page 532 of the Dublin City & County Book of Honour; on page 120 of the Belfast Book of Honour Journey of Remembering compiled by Derek Smyth and on a Corry family grave headstone in Belfast City Cemetery (Grave D 435/436) where his nephew Hugh Corry Osborne (son of his sister Margaret) is also commemorated:

Erected by Hugh Corry

In memory of his wife Ellen who died 13 April 1881 aged 33 years

Also his son Robert who died 7 July 1913 aged 37 years

Also in memory of his son Alexander Chief Engineer SS W M Barkley

Torpedoed by enemy submarine

Died at sea 12 October 1917 aged 48 years

Also in memory of his grandson

Second Lieutenant Hugh Corry Osborne West Yorkshire Regiment

Killed in action in France 24 July 1916 aged 20 years

Also the above named Hugh Corry died 21 April 1925 aged 85 years

Also his grandson Hugh Corry died 26 January 1937 aged 22 years

Hugh Corry Osborne served with the 12th Battalion West Yorkshire Regiment (Prince of Wales’s Own), he died 23/24 July 1916, he has no known grave and his name is inscribed on the Thiepval Memorial.

Names of those buried in Belfast City Cemetery Grave D 435:

Hugh Corry of 32 Cliftonville Road Belfast died 21 April 1925 (aged 85)

Hugh Corry of RV Hospital died 26 January 1937 (aged 22)

William Corry of 16 Knockhill Park Belfast died 18 April 1959 (aged 82)

Jane Lemon Corry of 47 Hawthornden Road Belfast died 9 February 1968 (aged 89)

Names of those buried in Belfast City Cemetery Grave D 436:

Ellen Corry of 38 Spencer Street Belfast died 13 April 1881 (aged 33)

Robert Corry of SS Tunisian died 7 July 1913 (aged 38)

Eleanor Corry of 16 Knock Hill Park Belfast died 29 October 1965 (aged 57)

First Engineer Alexander Corry is also commemorated on a Corry family grave headstone in Movilla Cemetery Newtownards:

Alexander Corry, Engineer, Mercantile Marine

Born 30 November 1868; died 12 October 1917

As a result of enemy action at sea

And his widow Maud Macarthur

Born 17 January 1872; died 2 March 1945

Also Margaret their younger daughter

Died 3 July 1958

There is evidence that Alexander Corry was related to master builder Robert Corry who built Sandown House and Purdysburn Asylum.

From the 1911 census, Robert Corry, Master Builder, Presbyterian, aged 58, born Co Down, lived at 45 Sandown Road, Belfast with his wife Esther (Hester, nee Parker), aged 58, born Co Down and five children all born in Co Antrim:  Minnie (married surname Gibson) aged 30, John (Master Builder) aged 28, Hugh (Master Builder) aged 26, Hessie (Scholar) aged 23 and Alexander (Civil Engineer) aged 20.  Also living there was Mary Parker, Robert’s sister-in-law.

Robert Corry and Esther Parker were married on 20 December 1865 in Elmwood Avenue Presbyterian Church Belfast.

There is a Corry headstone is in Greyabbey Old Graveyard:

Erected by Alexander Corry, Ballycastle, Mountstewart,

who died 22nd October 1888 aged 79 years

Also his beloved wife Ann Corry (alias Barnes)

who died 1st July 1894 aged 82 years

Also his son Nathaniel Corry died 20th November 1877 aged 32 years

Also his son John Alexander died young

Also his son William Corry died 28th June 1934 aged 80 years

Also Eleanor Corry, wife of William Corry, died 19th March 1941

Alexander Corry (born around 1809) and Ann Barnes (born around 1812, daughter of Hugh and Mary Barnes nee McCullough), both from Greyabbey, were married in Greyabbey Non-Subscribing Presbyterian Church on 7 March 1839.  Ann Barnes was a member of Greyabbey Non-Subscribing Presbyterian Church and Alexander Corry was a member of Greyabbey Presbyterian Church.  After their marriage they were members of Greyabbey Presbyterian Church and they had at least 3 children:

Nathaniel Corry, born around 1845, died 20 November 1877 (aged 32)

John Alexander Corry, died young

William Corry, born around 1854, died 28 June 1934 (aged 80)

William Corry was a Farmer and a Joiner, and for a time he worked in Mount Stewart for the Londonderry family.   He also built the houses in Greyabbey which included the Post Office.  He later took over the Post Office from the Barnes side of the family.

William Corry and Eleanor Cromie (born in County Monaghan) were married on 27 February 1889 in Second Newtownards Presbyterian Church.  They had five children who were baptised in Greyabbey Presbyterian Church:

John Corry (born 5 December 1889, married Rebecca Allen Boyd from Kircubbin and they had two children – William and Elizabeth)

Mary Jane Corry (born 22 December 1891, married James Barnes from the townland of Kilnatierney)

Ann Alice Barnes Corry (born 3 August 1893, married Michael Dunne of Dublin)

William Alexander Corry (born 16 February 1896, married Agnes Hall of Belfast)

Rubena Alexandra Helen Corry (born 3 July 1905, married James Carson of Ballynahinch)

Two specific questions concerning First Engineer Alexander Corry’s extended family are currently being investigated.

  1. First Engineer Alexander Corry’s father, Hugh Corry, was a son of Alexander Corry who worked as a carpenter. Is this Alexander Corry the same Alexander Corry who was buried in Greyabbey?
  2. Was Robert Corry, the Master Builder, a son of the Alexander Corry who was buried in Greyabbey?