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  • Writer's pictureStephen Callaghan

Private McKinley and the 1902 Coronation


Private McKinley's King's South Africa medal

When searching for the next medal to buy, it can be easy to overlook damaged medals as not worth buying. A while back I purchased one such medal, a King’s South Africa medal named to Patrick McKinley, the medal was without the “South Africa 1901” and “South Africa 1902” clasps. Initially the medal seemed unresearchable, however persistence paid off and with the following information presenting itself.


Patrick McKinley was born on 24 March 1872, in Waterford. The son of professional singer David McKinley and Mary Kinley (Nee Ryan), of Butcher’s Lane, Waterford.


Around the end of 1892 Patrick enlisted for service in the Leinster Regiment, probably for a period of 12 years. During the Second Anglo-Boer War, Private McKinley saw active service in South Africa with the 1st Battalion, Leinster Regiment. For his service he would later receive the Queen’s and King’s South Africa medals.


On 22 January 1901, while the war in South Africa ragged on, Queen Victoria died. With her death the crown passed to her eldest son Edward, who would become Edward VII. Initially delayed Edward’s coronation took place on 9 August 1902. Even though the war in South Africa ended in May 1902, the 1st Battalion, Leinster Regiment would stay in South Africa until 1903, despite this a special contingent of men from the battalion were picked to travel home for the coronation. Among the men picked was Private McKinley. The full contingent consisted of:


Major F.R. Dugan

Lance Sergeant P. Lynch

Corporal P. Keogh

Corporal O’S. Breese

Lance Corporal M. Cain

Lance Corporal J. Casey

Lance Corporal J. Gorman

Lance Corporal T. Meehan

Private J. Egan

Private P. McKinley

Private J. Mooney

Private J. Perdisalt


The coronation procession consisted of 30000 soldiers from every regiment of the British Army and the Royal Navy and Royal Marines, and various colonial units.


Procession of India troops. Image courtesy National Army Museum

Private McKinley’s 12 years of service came to an end in 1904, with him choosing not to extend it to complete 21 years. Returning to civilian life, Patrick settled in London with his wife, Catherine whom he had married around 1900.


The 1911 census records Patrick and Catherine as living at 48 Great Peter St Westminster, London. Patrick’s profession is listed as a caretaker and cleaner at an elementary school.


Catherine died in Chelsea, London in 1930. After her death Patrick returned to Ireland, where he lived in Kildare. He probably went to Kildare as his sister, Mary was living here. Mary had married a soldier, William Henry Honnor in 1902. William later died from consumption in 1914.


Patrick died on 19 April 1935, aged 64 years, at Hospital Street, Kildare as a result of neck cancer. His sister was present at his death.

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