Victim: John & Eugenie HAWKES
Cause of death: Drowned in Princess Alice Disaster
Circumstance: Maria Eugenie Hawkes was only nine years old when both of her parents were killed in the Princess Alice disaster on the River Thames... She was being punished for being cheeky and had not been allowed to go with them. In the nineteenth century there was a considerable increase in traffic on the River Thames and a growth in the use of pleasure craft such as rowing boats, paddlesteamers and steam launches giving trips down to the coastal resorts. This led to conflict with the working vessels. The worst disaster was the sinking of the pleasure steamer the `Princess Alice` which occurred on the evening of 3 September 1878 at Galleon`s Reach, eleven miles downriver from London Bridge. She was on her way back from Sheerness and after calling at Gravesend, moved out into the river to continue her journey. She was run down by a larger ship, the steam collier `Bywell Castle`. Passengers and crew were thrown into the water and 640 drowned, with 69 people surviving, the greatest tragedy ever to occur on the Thames. Bodies continued to be washed up on the banks of the river for some time afterwards. A mass funeral was held at Woolwich Cemetery on Monday 9 September 1878. Shock at the scale of the accident led to improvements in the rules of navigation on the river. John & Louisa Hawkes, were the owners of the Anchor & Hope Public House at Charlton and this pub was passed on to another daughter Louisa, who was married to Charles Sargent - hence the link between the drowning of John Hawkes and his wife Eugenie in 1878 and the subsequent taking over of the Anchor & Hope Pub which remained in the Sarrgent family for 100 years.
Origin of this story: Family knowledge & articles in several newspapers including. Eg. Front page of the The London Illustrated News, Saturday 14th September 1878.