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Mrs. Robert McKinnon (Jeanie Gilmour Beith)

Jeanie McKinnon, née Beith (1887 - 1915), 27, was a British subject originally from Glasgow, Scotland but living in Toronto, Ontario, Canada as of 1915. Jeanie was returning to Britain aboard Lusitania and was lost when the ship was torpedoed and sunk on 7 May 1915. Jane Gilmour Beith, always known as ‘Jeanie’, was born on the 2nd December 1887 at 46. Pollok St., Pollokshaws, Renfrewshire, Scotland, the daughter of John Wright Beith and his wife Margaret (née Gilmour). Her father was an advertising agent was deceased as of 1901. Jeanie seven siblings: Margaret (born 1880), Mary (born 1882), John (born 1883), Robert (born 1886), Williamina or "Bella" (born 1890), Mura (born 1890), and a brother named James. The family lived at 20 Dumbarton Road, Glasgow. Jeanie found work as a dressmaker, but on the 18th April 1914, she immigrated to Montreal, Quebec, Canada, accompanied by her older sister, Mary, on board the S.S. Corsican. On 31 December 1914, she married Robert McKinnon (also Kinnock), who was also born in Scotland, and the couple resided in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. It is likely that Jeanie knew her husband prior to traveling to Canada. According to details from Jeanie’s family, in the spring of 1915, Jeanie decided to return to Scotland. She had two reasons for doing so, the first being that she was five months pregnant and wished for her baby to be born in her native land, and the second being that she had heard that there was a shortage of nurses to treat the war-wounded and she wished to do her bit for the war effort. It is believed that her husband could only raise the fare for one of them to travel, and also that her sister, Mary, couldn’t raise the price of the fare back to Scotland, so Jeanie decided to travel back alone. She consequently booked second cabin passage on the May sailing of the Lusitania from New York to Liverpool. Jeanie’s family believes that she intended to book passage on another liner which she discovered had been requisitioned by the British Admiralty and only changed her booking to Lusitania for this reason. It is likely that she intended to travel on the S.S. Cameronia, which had been due to sail on her regular route from New York to Glasgow, Scotland, but was requisitioned by the British Admiralty before her expected departure. As Jeanie McKinnon was not listed amongst those who transferred from Cameronia, it would appear that she had not booked her passage on this vessel, but most likely learned that she had been requisitioned and therefore decided at that stage to book her passage aboard Lusitania. Jeanie boarded the Lusitania at Cunard's Pier 54 in New York on the morning of 1 May 1915. The ship was scheduled to depart at 10:00 a.m., but she would have had to have waited until 12:27 p.m. due to the delay caused by the transferring of a number of passengers, cargo, and some of the crew from the S.S. Cameronia. Then, six days later, on the afternoon of 7th May, the German submarine U-20, under the command of Kapitänleutnant Walther Schwieger, torpedoed and sank Lusitania within sight of the coast of southern Ireland. At that stage of her voyage, she was only about 250 miles away from the safety of her home port. Unfortunately, Mrs. McKinnon lost her life in the sinking. Immediately on hearing of the news of the sinking, her husband Robert travelled to Queenstown to search for her, but to no avail. Her body was never recovered or identified afterwards, and she has no known grave. Sometime after the sinking, S. McKinnon, 21. Dalvast Road, Balloch, wrote to the Cunard Steam Ship Company seeking information, but they were unable to assist. This person is believed to have been Jeanie’s sister-in-law, Susan McKinnon. Jeanie’s family kept in contact with Robert McKinnon for some time after the tragedy but eventually lost track of him. It is unknown what became of him in the years following. Jeanie's older sister Mary Beith stayed in Canada and married Leslie Garrard in Toronto in 1921. Contributors: David G. Crouch (relative of Jeanie McKinnon, Second Cabin Passenger) Peter Kelly, Ireland Michael Poirier, USA Tina Reilly (relative of Jeanie McKinnon, Second Cabin Passenger)

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