Maguire (who survived), and Robert Clagton/Clayton, who was lost.

Taken from the Merchant Shipping Act of 1894


221. If a seaman lawfully engaged, or an apprentice to the sea service, commits any of the following offences he shall be liable to be punished summarily as follows:


(a) If he deserts from his ship he shall be guilty of the offence of desertion and be liable to forfeit; all or any part of the effects he leaves on board, and of the wages which he has then earned" and also, if the desertion takes place abroad, of the wages he may earn in any other ship in which he may be employed until his next return to the United Kingdom, and to satisfy any excess of wages paid by the master or owner of the ship to any substitute engaged in his place at a higher rate of wages than the rate stipulated to be paid to him; and also, except in the United Kingdom, he shall be liable to imprisonment for any period not exceeding twelve weeks with or without hard labour;


(b) If he neglects, or refuses without reasonable cause, to join his ship, or to proceed to sea in his ship, or is absent without leave at any time within twenty-four hours of the ship's sailing from a port, either at the commencement or during the progress of a voyage, or is absent at any time without leave and without sufficient reason from his ship or from his duty, he shall, if the offence does not amount to desertion, or is not treated as such by the master, be guilty of the offence of absence without leave, and be liable to forfeit out of his wages a sum not exceeding two days' pay, and in addition for every twenty-four hours of absence, either a sum not exceeding six days' pay, or any expenses properly incurred in hiring a substitute; and also, except in the United Kingdom, he shall be liable to imprisonment for any period not exceeding ten weeks with or without hard labour.


The men who had lost their wages for deserting the Empress of Ireland had paid a small price compared to those men who had substituted for them. Three of the men had lost their lives hours later on May 29th, 1914.

The R.M.S. Empress of Ireland Community

22 Ship Deserters

On May 28th, 1914 the Empress of Ireland leaves Quebec City for the last time and steams down the St. Lawrence River and into maritime history. There was approximately 24 crew from the stoke hold (boiler rooms) of the ship Leading Fireman: J. Doolan, Firemen: J.McGweron, C. Freel, F. Sheridan, John Casey, William Quigley, T. Harvey, James Cooney, E. Scott, George Currie, J. Caldwell and Joseph Gray members who didn't join or deserted the Empress of Ireland before the ship sailed. Not all were replaced by substitutes.

I know that 22 firemen and trimmers deserted or failed to join, and I believe there were 17 replacements (most of whom actually survived). The only steward who failed to join, John Griffiths, was not replaced, to the besf of my knowledge. The two ABs who failed to join were replaced, I believe (the replaments were John 

Photo Credit: Public Domain
The R.M.S. Empress of Ireland moored against the Empresses Dock, Port of Quebec City.