Alexander, Robert Jocelyn

1852 - 1918

Robert Jocelyn Alexander was born 11 June 1852, the son of the Right Reverend William Alexander, Bishop of Armagh (later the Most Reverend Sir William Alexander, Protestant Primate of All Ireland). His mother, Cecil Frances Alexander (nee Humphreys) is famous as the writer of such hymns as All Things Bright and Beautiful and Once in Royal David's City.

He came to Winchester College in the summer of 1868 and was in B House, Moberly's, under ther Revd HE Moberly. He went on to Brasenose College, Oxford in 1870 and won the prestigious Newdigate Prize in 1874. Alexander took a third in History that year, but stayed on to win the English Essay Prize in 1877 on the subject of The Influence of the Schoolmen upon Modern Literature. He also won the Sacred Poem Prize in 1878.

Alexander married Alice Rachel Humphreys in January 1876 and they had a son who died in infancy and a daughter. In 1880, he was appointed to HM Inspectorate of Schools.

Alexander was drowned when RMS Leinster was torpedoed in October 1918 by the German submarine UB-123, resulting in the greatest loss of life ever in the Irish Sea - 500 people perished. The Leinster was acting as the Kingstown (now Dun Laoghaire) to Holyhead mail boat, carrying both passengers and mail; she now lies, virtually intact, about 100 feet down.

Alexander, who was 66 when he died, is buried not far from his famous parents in Plot A of the Derry City Cemetery.

Also on board was 15-year-old Alfred Curzon King (E 1916-1918) who also perished. (see individual entry).

(rf Valerie Wallace, A LIFE OF THE HYMN-WRITER MRS ALEXANDER 1818-1895 [Lilliput, Dublin, 1996], p.115 - @LilliputPress

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