Miss Lanktree

Because the bride desired a horse-drawn vehicle for her wedding, the bridegroom hired one of the only two remaining hansom cabs in London when Miss Kathleen Lanktree, of St. John’s Wood, and Mr. Marcus Holroyd Ratton, a retired member of Ceylon Police Force, were married at the Church of Our Lady, St. John’s Wood.[1]

Kathleen (Mary Borgia) Lanktree, 45, (1888-1977) was a Dublin born nurse, daughter of a quite notable Dublin policeman. We cannot be certain we have the correct Miss Lanktree but that she is a nurse seated on a table with a strong medical representation supports her claim – but we welcome more ideas, information and even alternative candidates. But surely we are allowed a Borgia at the dinner??

There was an actress Miss Helen Lanktree at this time and a few other possible candidates.


Can you strengthen Kathleen’s claim to a seat at the table?  Or suggest alternative candidates?  All we know is she was listed as Miss Lanktree. Any further connections with the other table guests would be a great help: Dr Alice Benham, Dr. Eva Handley-Read, Miss Hélène Reynard, Mrs. Alys Russell, or Miss Claribel Spurling.


If Kathleen is the correct “Miss Lanktree” she would have had something in common with the medical minds at her table,  Dr Alice Benham and Dr. Eva Handley-Read.


Did she have a good birthday the day before? Again, if we have the right “Miss Lanktree”, her attitudes to suffrage may have been of interest: in 1912 her brother was on record (see below) saying that suffragettes ought not to expect to be treated as political prisoners where they have committed criminal acts.  Did the policeman’s daughter have the same opinion?


Kathleen Mary Borgia Lanktree was born in Dublin on 22nd March 1888, the daughter of Mary Josephine Fogarty and of Barnaby Dane Lanktree (born in Cork). She was one of seven children (four boys, three girls).  The youngest, a girl, died aged 1.  Her sister Evelyn also trained as a nurse, at Charing Cross Hospital, 1921-1925 and registered in November 1925.  Kathleen was a member of the Queen Alexandra Royal Naval Nursing Service Reserve sometime between 1884 and 1928 – she registered as a nurse in London on 16th November 1923, but trained in Dublin in 1909-1912.[2] With two doctors on this table the nursing link adds to the possibility that we have the right lady.

With a policeman as a father, the siblings generally went into public service: Henry in the India Police, Thomas a master mariner, who emigrated to Australia, Barnaby who served in France and then became a rancher, and Charles, who became a Colonel in the Ceylon Civil Service.

In 1908 the Cork Examiner reports her fund raising in the streets of Cork on behalf of Cork Hospital. She was with the Misses Nellie and Annie Cusack and Lily Robinson raised £5 16s 6p covering the two sides of Bridge Street in Cork. The report gives a wonderful review of the day in the usual diplomatic language, albeit a quarter century before our dinner.

Cork Examiner Monday 28.2.1908


The annual Hospital Saturday collection was made Cork Saturday last, and the charitable ladies, who translate their sympathy for the poor and the afflicted into earnest, practical work, were about in the streets and wore exercising all their persuasive powers touch the hearts and reach the pockets of pedestrians. In the main thoroughfares of the city collectors were numerous and active, and along the quays, too; and particularly Sullivan’s Quay and George’s Quay, passers-by were promptly button-holed and were invariably induced to “deliver up.” The immediate suburbs of the city did not appear be well attended to; but then the energy displayed by the collectors who were scattered through the principal streets and along the main thoroughfares compensated for any lack in the relation indicated. A complaint was made in previous years that some of the young ladies who carried tambourines were somewhat slow in approaching people who wore their working clothes. Whether facts could be called in to justify this complaint, raises a question it would unprofitable to discuss here. It will be relevant, however, to mention that connection with Saturday’s collection no such complaint could possibly made. All sorts and conditions of men and women, no matter what their garb, were approached by the collectors, who displayed a degree of zeal and energy which was worthy of the best traditions of organised charity in Cork.

The sum collected, as may be gathered from the official report which appears below, amounted to £271 16s 2d. or £33 more than was real mod last year. This is, indeed, very creditable to all concerned. The promoters of the collection this year found their efforts hampered by a lack of lady collectors, and things would bad, indeed, were it not for the action of the hospital nurses of Cork, who came to the rescue in splendid fashion, and who, notwithstanding that they had been work their various wards the previous night, went about in the streets cheerfully, and helped to swell the receipts for the city hospitals. The Ladies who engaged in collecting work Saturday are certainly deserving of the highest, praise.[3]

Splendid work, ladies and nurses!

Thanks to a recent contribution by a Dinner Puzzle reader we have a little more information on Kathleen.  Ruairi Looney has written from Cork that his wife’s family lived in the Co. Cork home of Kathleen and her parents, (which explains why the daughter of a Dublin policeman might be fund raising in Cork) and sent in a passage (quoted below) that illuminates her younger brother Charles’ views on the actions of the suffragettes:  

“During the hunger strike, the following letter appeared in the Irish Independent (30/9/1912):

Sir—In a letter to the ‘Irish Independent’ of Thursday last, Caroline Smithwick says that the object of Mrs. Leigh in refusing her food, whilst in Mountjoy Prison was “…to, obtain political treatment the same as that given to men here and in other civilised countries for crimes that are political.” By all means, give political treatment for political crimes, but is an attempt to burn a public building a political crime? It may have a political motive, but that does not affect the crime in any way.

If an ordinary man attempted such a deed as the burning of a public building, you, may be sure he would get more than five years penal servitude; and what is more, he would have to bear it, too. If a prisoner is released from prison because she refuses to eat, all the criminals in Ireland should immediately start a hunger strike, so; if Mrs. Leigh died from the effect of her self-imposed starvation, would she not be guilty of suicide? And at present is she not guilty of attempted suicide and liable to arrest for it? People are inclined to make a heroine of Mrs. Leigh, but if she is as brave as they say she is, why didn’t she lie on the bed she made?

Charles J. Lanktree, Beechmount, Glanmire, Co. Cork. ” [4]

Kathleen would have been celebrating her 45th birthday on the eve of the dinner.


Kathleen Mary Borgia Lanktree, daughter of a senior policeman herself, married Marcus Holroyd Ratton, on 23rd July 1938, in St. John’s Wood, a retired colonial policemen (from Ceylon) – perhaps she met through her brother Colonel Charles, CBE, of the Ceylon Civil Service. [5]

On census day 1939 she and her husband were at Children’s Farm, St Michael’s, Tenterden, Kent, which may have been a guest house. They were also resident at 7F Grove End House, London NW8 at the time. Kathleen died on 4th October 1977 in Wallingford.[6]


[1] Birmingham Daily Gazette, 25.7.1938 p3 ©Mirrorpix Digitised by FindMyPast Newspaper Archive Ltd.

[2] Scarletfinders: Queen Alexandra’s Royal Nursing Service, Staff Members 1884- 1928

[3] Cork Examiner, 28.9.1908

[4]  The Treason Felony Blog quoting the Irish Independent of 30.9.1912

[5] Retirement of Superintendent Lanktree, Dublin Evening Mail, 17.7.1906 

[6] The Peerage

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