Mr. Leonard Leathes McMurray

Leonard McMurray Image courtesy Michael Poirier. Leonard McMurray, 48, was a British citizen from Toronto, Ontario, Canada. He was a survivor of both the wrecks of the RMS Republic and the RMS Lusitania. He had been taking coffee with Mary and Laura Ryerson and Reginald Lockhart when the Lusitania was torpedoed. Leonard, Reginald, and Laura survived. Mary did not.


Leonard McMurray was the son of James Saurin McMurray. James had four sons and at least one daughter. The family lived in Toronto. One of Leonard's brothers was named Louis Saurin McMurray, with whom Leonard is sometimes confused. His brother Louis lived at 10 Chestnut Street. Leonard himself was married and lived at 311 Jarvis Street in Toronto. Both brothers were employed by the Gutta Percha Rubber Company on O'Hare Avenue.


Leonard and his wife were first-class passengers on the White Star Liner RMS Republic in late January 1909, sailing on a pleasure cruise from New York City to the Mediterranean, as the couple was on vacation. In the early morning fog of 23 January 1909, the ship was struck by the the Lloyd Italiano immigrant ship SS Florida. Passengers on the Republic and crew on the Florida sleeping at the point of impact were killed. Water flooded the engine room and the ship developed a slight list, but Captain Inman Sealby maintained order. Republic was the first ship to use the radio distress call CQD. Passengers were transferred to the Florida and the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Gresham that had responded to the distress call. Hours later, the White Star Liner Baltic came to the stricken ship's aid, as the smaller vessels became dangerously overcrowded. Due to damage to the Florida, all survivors and passengers were transferred to Baltic, but a riot nearly broke out among the Italian immigrants as they had to wait for the first-class Republic passengers to be transferred first. Baltic took everyone back to New York. The McMurrays suffered from some exposure but survived. Their belongings were lost. Despite Captain Sealby's best efforts to save the Republic, the ship sank 39 hours after the collision.


Aboard Lusitania's last voyage, Leonard's ticket was 10860 and he stayed in cabin B-69. He was traveling by himself. His wife was staying with a friend, Mrs. Frederick Jarvis of Eglinton. Leonard had heard of rumors that Lusitania would be torpedoed, but, as a frequent transatlantic traveler, he had full confidence that the ship would be able to evade such dangers. On the day of the disaster, 7 May 1915, Leonard was in the lounge taking coffee with Reginald Lockhart and Mary and Laura Ryerson when the Lusitania was torpedoed. The men escorted the ladies to the port side to wait for the boats. Reginald Lockhart and Leonard McMurray heard someone yell out, "women and children in the boats". The group headed amidships and stopped in front of lifeboat 14. They handed Laura Ryerson and her mother into the boat. Mary Ryerson called out to them, "Aren't you coming?" Lockhart jumped in but McMurray stepped back, as the lifeboat was overcrowded. Lifeboat 14 was lowered suddenly and began to fill with water. Leonard McMurray watched the lifeboat slowly drift away and "waited until the ship was nearly down to the waters edge and jumped overboard". Reginald Lockhart saw McMurray swimming with a Lusitania life ring and reached for him. At that moment lifeboat 14 capsized. Mary was lost. Laura swam for a raft where she found Leonard McMurray and Reginald Lockhart. The raft was sinking because so many people were on it, so some of the people swam to a nearby lifeboat to distribute the weight. Leonard, Reginald, and Laura survived. Leonard's cable to his brother from Queenstown after he had been saved read: "SAFE, WELL: WILL CABLE PARTICULARS TO-MORROW. ADDRESS CUNARD OFFICES, QUEENSTOWN. TELEPHONE OTHERS. (signed) L. L. McMURRAY".

Later life

Leonard McMurray was survived by one sister, one brother, and a nephew. Contributors Paul Latimer Leonard McMurray (relative of Republic and Lusitania survivor) Michael Poirier Judith Tavares References Poirier, Michael. "The Tale of Boat Fourteen." Ryerson, George Sterling Ansel. “The Great War.” Old and Sold. Web. 13 July 2011. <>. "RMS Republic." Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. 22 July 2004. Web. 13 July 2011. <>

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