Eugene Murphy, registered at birth and baptised as Owen, was born in 1879 at his home in West Street, Drogheda, Co Louth. His father Patrick Murphy was a plumber and it would seem that Pat had his own short lived business operating from 45 West Street, Drogheda. Eugene, as the second son, was named after his mother’s father; Owen Fox, Potato Market, Drogheda. He was baptised at St. Peter’s West Street, Drogheda and his sponsor was Ellen Carty. Between 1881 and 1885 Patrick moved his family (except for one daughter Julia) to London where he was employed as a Gas Fitter. The 1891 England Census shows the family living at 28 Palmerston Road, Kilburn, Hampstead, London and Eugene is listed as being a scholar.
In 1897, at 18 years of age, Eugene enlisted in the Royal Navy, Chatham, Kent. His Service Number being 183693. At the time of enlistment Eugene was described as 5 foot 3 inches tall, brown hair, blue eyes with a fresh complexion. Measured again in 1909 Eugene had grown to 5 foot 10 ½ inches. Over 15 years of service in the RN Eugene served on 16 different HM Navy ships and by 1903 he had worked his way through the ranks to become a Petty Officer. His character is described in his service records as very good. At the time of the 1911 England Census he was staying with his mother (Margaret Murphy nee Fox) and cousin (Mary Byrne) at 36 Griffen Road, Plumstead, Kent. It was recorded that Eugene was not married. Other members of the family were employed at this time at the Royal Arsenal, Woolwich.
In 1915, while serving on the HMS Sutlej Eugene was drowned at sea off the coast of Kerry and his body was not recovered. His Service Record notes “Awarded the Royal Humane Society (RHS) ‘in memorium’ certificate for his effort is endeavouring to save life on the 14 Feb 1915 which resulted in the loss of his own life. Certificate forwarded to his mother”. RHS Bronze medals citations (1915) noted “on the 14th February 1915, a boat with 8 men on board capsized alongside of HM ships as sea. Setter, Selwood, Bennett, Ward, Cape, Ballantyne and Eugene Murphy, PO, all jumped in from the ship and exerted themselves in saving or attempting to save lives. Murphy unfortunately lost his own life after saving one man”. A further note on Eugene’s Service Record states “Drowned whilst attempting to save the life of John McDonald, Seaman”.
Eugene Murphy’s name is listed on the Chatham Naval Memorial (Plot 9), Chatham, Kent which is in honour of sailors drowned and lost at sea. His loss was greatly felt by all members of his family and his memory maintained until more recent times by various members of the Murphy family naming their newborn son Eugene. His father and sister are buried in the Plumstead Cemetery (Ref H/1316) and their headstone includes a memorial for Eugene – ‘Eugene Murphy/Drowned off the coast of Kerry Feb 14th 1915/ Aged 32/Greater love hath no man than this that a man lay down his life for his friend’.
In the above photograph, Eugene is seated and his brother Patrick (b 1876) (my grandfather) is standing.
Copies of documents or references can be found at my MurphyDrogheda family tree at https://www.ancestry.com.au/family-tree/tree/56795067/family
|Date of Birth||1st Dec 1879|
|Date of Death||1st Feb 1915|
|Father (First Name/s and Surname)||Patrick Murphy b. Drogheda 1844 (father Patrick, mother Mary Daw) No documentation of parents' address, high possibility Greenlanes, Drogheda based on names of witnesses and sponsors|
|Mother (First Name/s and Maiden)||Margaret Fox b. Drogheda 1841 (father Owen Fox, mother Margaret Murphy) Parents address documented as Potato Market, Potato Market Square or 12 Bolton Square|
|Place & Date of Baptism||3 December 1879, St Peters, West Street, Drogheda. Sponsor Ellen Carty|
|Number of Siblings||5|
|Names of Siblings||Mary (1873), Julia (1874), Patrick (1876), Margaret (1878), Agnes (1886)|
|Occupation||Petty Officer, Royal Navy|
|Place of Death||Lost at sea 14 February 1915|