Lusitania Casualties

LUSITANIA CASUALTIES

This post was put up by Victoria Doran, but all the research was done by Heather Chapman, leader of West Kirby Museum Research Group. The content was written by Heather unless noted otherwise. Heather researched all the local survivors and casualties for talks she has given locally.

Much of the information has come from www.rmslusitania.info

There were 14 local casualties, all civilians; 2 crew members and 14 passengers including 5 children.

Lusitania2.jpg

RMS Lusitania from the collection of Heather Chapman

The following notice was posted by the Imperial German Embassy in Washington DC on 22 April 1915. However it was only published in newspapers on 1 May 1915, the day the RMS Lusitania sailed at noon from New York for Liverpool.

Picture2.jpg

Up until then the Germans had not deliberately targeted ships likely to have American nationals on board, although the first US Citizen died when the SS Falaba was torpedoed a few weeks earlier on 28 March 1915.

On 6 May as the Lusitania was approaching Ireland, Captain William Turner took some precautions, ordered a blackout and covered up the skylights to the public rooms, posted double lookouts, closed the watertight doors, and swung out the lifeboats to facilitate quicker launching if needed. He was unaware that 23 merchant vessels had been sunk in the area in the preceding week.

U boat U20 was in the area as it had been all week. At 2.10 in the afternoon RMS Lusitania was hit by a torpedo off the Old Head of Kinsale, Ireland

The local casualties in alphabetical order of surname were :-

Robert Walter Bird (1882-1915); crew member

Blanche Gregory Chalmers (1869-1915); passenger

Percy Thornton Jackson (1882-1915); passenger

William Jones (1858-1915); crew member

Ralph Troup Moodie (1870-1915) passenger; as he was listed in the Deeside Advertiser in 1922 he already has his own biography post written by Stephen Roberts.

Emily Shaw (1882-1915); passenger

Frances Ramsay Stephens (1851-1915); passenger; accompanied by her infant grandson John Harrison Chatham Stephens (1913-1915)

Thomas Henry Williams (1880-1915); passenger

Annie Williams (1878-1915); passenger; accompanied by 4 of her children who died (Albert, Ethel, Florrie and David) as well as 2 who survived (Edith and John Edward)

ROBERT WALTER BIRD

Lusitania Walter Bird photo.jpg

Walter Bird

Robert Walter Bird was always known as Walter. He was born in Hoylake, Cheshire, England in 1882, the son of Samuel Henry and Mary Bird. His father was a retired sea captain and the family home was at 22 Grove Road, Hoylake. The family was well known in the Hoylake area.

After leaving school in Hoylake, Walter Bird became apprenticed to Mr W G Burgess, butcher of Market Street, Hoylake, and then continued his training with Albert and Septimus Davies of Crosby and Waterloo, Liverpool where he met Catherine Morrison, who was to become his wife. They married on 11 April 1904 at the Church of St Thomas of Canterbury, in Waterloo. They lived at 32 Derby Lane, Stoneycroft, Liverpool, Lancashire, with their four children; Walter, born in 1908, Kathleen, born in 1910, Pauline, born in 1912 and Joseph born in 1914.

At some time before the war he joined the Cunard Company as a butcher and served on the Mauretania, Ivernia, Franconia and Aquitania, by which time he had acquired the rank of Chief Butcher in the Stewards’ Department.

He only joined the crew of the Lusitania because the Aquitania was laid up prior to her conversion by the Admiralty to a hospital ship. He signed on for his second voyage on board the Lusitania on 12 April 1915 at a monthly rate of pay of £6-10s-0d, (£6.50) and reported for duty at 7am five days later, before she left England for the final time.

He was killed three weeks later after the Cunarder was torpedoed. He was aged 33 years.

His body was not amongst those recovered and identified after the sinking and, despite his brother and sister-in law, Mr and Mrs Joseph Fitzsimmons, travelling to southern Ireland to search for him, no more was ever seen or heard of him again. Consequently he has no known grave. He is however commemorated on the Mercantile Marine Memorial at Tower Hill, London and on the municipal war memorial in Waterloo, Merseyside.

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Waterloo Municipal Memorial at Seaforth

In common with all crew victims of the sinking, Cunard paid his wages up until 8 May, 24 hours after the sinking and eventually, the balance owing to him was forwarded to his widow. The Liverpool and London War Risks Insurance Association Limited granted a yearly pension to Catherine Bird to compensate her for the loss of her husband which amounted to £106-6s-11d (£106.34½) payable at the rate of £8-17s-3d (£8.86) per month.

Some time after the sinking, a surviving crew member who had known Walter Bird visited his widow Catherine, at Derby Lane and told her that he had last seen her husband standing on the deck as the ship was sinking, throwing heavy deck chairs into the sea, so that people could use them to keep afloat.

At the time of the sinking, Catherine was pregnant again and in November 1915 she gave birth to their fifth child, another daughter, Margaret, who would never know her father.

Notes
Born: Mar 1882 in Hoylake, Cheshire
Death : 7 May 1915 at sea when RMS Lusitania was sunk
Addresses : Grove Road, Hoylake (91); Great Crosby (01); 5 King Street, Waterloo (11); 32 Derby Lane, Stoneycroft, Liverpool (15)
Occupation : chief butcher on RMS Lusitania
Commemorated : Tower Hill Mercantile Marine Memorial, London; Waterloo Municipal Memorial, Merseyside
Sources : Census 91, 00 11; BN, CWGC, DA, PR, Cunard records at Liverpool University

BLANCHE GREGORY CHALMERS

This section has been written by Victoria Doran from notes made by Heather Chapman.

Ellen Blanche Gregory was born on 7 August 1869 in Liverpool. She was known as Blanche when an adult. She was the eldest child of George Gregory (1843-1926) and Ellen Byford (1844-1909). Her father, who came from Abingdon in Berkshire, was a variously an outfitter, a draper’s assistant and a merchant tailor. Her mother came from Sudbury, Suffolk.

In 1881 the family were living at 35 Bedford Street, Liverpool. They had moved to Canning Street by 1891, and were still there in 1901 at No. 60. In Canning Street they were able to afford to employ a household servant. By 1901 Blanche was working as a cashier for a confectioner.

By 1911 the family had moved to 88 Banks Road, West Kirby and Blanche was the proprietor of a confectionery shop there with the with the family living above the shop.

There then came a major change in her life as on 1 October 1913 she married Adam Chalmers in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.

Blanche Gregory marriage cert.jpg

Record of the marriage

Adam Chalmers was a widower born in 1856 in Kirkinner, Wigtonshire, Scotland. By 1871 the family had moved to Toxteth Park, Liverpool where his father Andrew Chalmers was a coal merchant.

By 1891 Adam was married to his first wife, Annie, who had been born in Seacombe and was a draper employing a household servant. In 1901 the childless couple had moved to Liverpool and he was a licensed broker, still employing a servant.

After his wife’s death he moved to Canada, working as a carpenter. Presumably he knew Blanche in England and she went to Canada to marry him.

She was a friend of Emily Shaw and was returning to England for a holiday when the RMS Lusitania was torpedoed. She was 35 years old.

17 1915 May 15 Chalmers.jpg

from the West Kirby News of 15 May 1915

It is not known if Blanche is commemorated anywhere.

Notes
Born : 7 August 1869 in Liverpool, Lancashire
Death : 7 May 1915 at sea when RMS Lusitania was sunk
Addresses : West Derby, Liverpool (71); 35 Bedford Street, Liverpool (81); 60 Canning Street, Liverpool (91) (01); 88 Banks Road, West Kirby (11)
Occupation : married; former sweetshop proprietor
Commemorated : not known
Sources : Census 71, 81 91, 00 11; WKN; Manitoba, Canada marriage records

PERCY THORNTON JACKSON

This section has been written by Victoria Doran from notes made by Heather Chapman. 

Percy Thornton Jackson gravestone.jpg

Part of the Jackson family grave in Holy Trinity Churchyard, Hoylake

Percy Thornton Jackson was born on 27 August 1882 in Liverpool. He was the son of William Kendall Jackson (1852-1915) and Catherine Thornton Chambers (1857-???). An older brother died in infancy before he was born, and he had a younger sister Enid (1896-1992).

The Jackson family originated in Cumberland, where William’s grandfather Thomas was an innkeeper in King Street, Whitehaven. William’s father, Jonathan Jackson (1842-1857) was a mariner who died when William was about 5 years old. He died in Macao, China – a long way from home.

In 1861 William was living with his uncle and aunt, Thomas and Ann Little. Ann seems to have been his father’s sister, and it looks as though William’s mother had already died, as Ann was the executor for Jonathan Jackson. Thomas Little was a master mariner, also from Cumberland.

By 1871 Thomas Little had died. and William was clerk to a ship insurance broker. On 28 June 1880 at St Bride’s church in Liverpool he married Catherine Thornton Chambers.

In 1881 William and Catherine were living in Toxteth Park, Liverpool and William was now a ship owner. Percy was baptised on 25 October 1882, again at St Bride. In 1891 the whole family was on holiday at a hotel in Harrogate, Yorkshire.

By 1901 William had moved the family to 7 Park Road, West Kirby and become a house agent. Percy was working as a metal broker’s clerk.

In September 1909 Percy married Mary Emily McKerrow (1889-1975) in the Birkenhead registration district. Their only child Alyster Kendall Thornton Jackson (1911-2005) was born on 9 December 1911. At the 1911 census they were living at Hilbre, Thurstaston Road, Heswall, but they moved to Kildonan, Park Road West, Heswall by 1914.

Percy was a metal merchant in his own right and travelled far in the course of his work. For instance on 27 May 1911 he travelled 1st Class from  London to Beira, Mozambique on the Jutaba on business. He was returning from a business trip to the West Indies via New York when he met his untimely death.

He was a member of Heswall Golf Club, and their flag was flown at half mast in remembrance. He was also connected with the Heswall Presbyterian Church.

According to the probate record he left his widow just £440. Fortunately her parents were also local, living in Riversdale Road, West Kirby.

17 1915 May 15 LusitaniaPercy Jackson.jpg

from the West Kirby News of 15 May 1915

Captain William Kendall Jackson, having moved to 50 Alderley Road, Hoylake by 1911, died less than a month after his son. He was buried in Holy Trinity church yard, Hoylake.

Notes
Born : 27 August 1882 in Liverpool, Lancashire
Death : 7 May 1915 at sea when RMS Lusitania was sunk
Addresses : Hotel, Princes Street, Harrogate, Yorkshire (91); 7 Park Road , West Kirby (01); Hilbre, Thurstaston Road, Heswall (11); Kildonan Park Road West, Heswall (14)
Occupation : metal merchant
Commemorated : Family grave in Holy Trinity Church Yard, Hoylake
Sources : Census 91, 00 11; WKN; passenger lists; Probate; PR

WILLIAM JONES

This section has been written by Victoria Doran from notes made by Heather Chapman.

William Jones was born about 1858 in West Kirby. He was a 2nd Class Waiter on the RMS Lusitania; a member of the crew.

William Jones baptism jpg.jpg

Parish Register of St Bridget, West Kirby for 1858

This is the only record that has been found relating William Jones to West Kirby. It shows that he was the son of William Jones, a gardener, and his wife Mary.

He married a Margaret Elizabeth Clegg in the first quarter of 1889. Margaret came from Aughton, Lancashire. By 1891 they had a son William George and were living at 14 Eaton Avenue, Litherland, Liverpool. William was a ship’s steward for the Cunard Line. They were still at the same address in 1901, although William is missing, presumably being at sea.

The couple had 5 more children by 1904, giving them 3 boys and 3 girls.

By 1911 they had moved to along the road to No. 49. Once again William was at sea. The 2 oldest sons were both working as clerks.

By 1915 they had moved again, this time to 14 Palmerston Drive, Litherland.

As a member of the Merchant Navy he is commemorated on the Tower Hill Memorial, London.

Bird Tower Hill Memorial.jpg

Tower Hill Merchant Marine Memorial, London

William was 47 years old when he died.

Notes
Born : Dec 1857 in West Kirby, Cheshire
Death : 7 May 1915 at sea when RMS Lusitania was sunk
Addresses : 14 Eaton Avenue, Litherland, Liverpool (91) (01); 49 Eaton Avenue, Litherland, Liverpool (11); 14 Palmerston Drive, Litherland, Liverpool (15)
Occupation : 2nd Class waiter – at sea
Commemorated : Tower Hill Merchant Marine Memorial, London
Sources : Census 91, 00 11; PR; CWGC

EMILY SHAW

This section has been written by Victoria Doran from notes made by Heather Chapman.

Emily Shaw was born in 1882 in Manchester the only child of George Henry Shaw (1850-???) and Jane Garlick (1852-1919). Her father was born in Leigh, Cheshire and was a maker / fitter for steam engines. Her mother came from Sheffield which is where they married in 1880.

In 1891 and 1901 the family was living in Hyde Road, Gorton, Manchester.

By 1911 George’s whereabouts are unknown. Emily and her mother were living at Winfield, 2 Dunraven Road, West Kirby where Jane was keeping a lodging house. She stated that she was still married. Emily did not have an occupation on any census, but no doubt she helped her mother run the boarding house.

Winfield, 2, Dunraven Rd Shaw family.JPG

Winfield, Dunraven Road, West Kirby in 2015

The only other information that Heather discovered was in newspaper reports.

17 1915 May 15 Lusitania Miss Emily Shaw.jpg

West Kirby News of 15 May 1915

Where Emily had been is not known. Clearly her mother had moved house to 23 North Road some time after 1911.

23, North Rd Miss Emily Shaw.JPG

23  North Road, West Kirby in 2015

It is not known where, if anywhere, Emily is commemorated. She was 32 years old when she died.

Notes
Born : abt 1882 in Manchester
Death : 7 May 1915 at sea when RMS Lusitania was sunk
Addresses : Hyde Road, Gorton, Manchester (91) (01); Winfield, 2 Dunraven Road, West Kirby  (11); 23 North Road, West Kirby (15)
Occupation : not known
Commemorated : not known
Sources : Census 91, 00 11; WKN

FRANCES RAMSAY STEPHENS & JOHN HARRISON CHATHAM STEPHENS

This section has been adapted by Victoria Doran from information found by Heather Chapman mainly on  www.rmslusitania.info

Mrs George Washington Stephens.jpg

Frances Stephens from the collection of Heather Chapman

Although Frances Stephens’ body was recovered, it was lost again whilst being returned to Canada for burial. The same U-boat was involved twice in her death.

Frances Ramsay McIntosh was born to Canadian parents Nicholas McIntosh and Margaret  Brown on 27 January 1851 in Edinburgh, Scotland, while her father was visiting his birthplace.  She had an older sister named Elizabeth and the 2 sisters grew up in Canada.

George Washington Stephens (1833-1904) was a wealthy man born in Montréal to an American father who had studied law at McGill University. He married Elizabeth McIntosh in 1865. Together, they had a son, another George Washington and 2 daughters, Elizabeth May and Marguerite.

Elizabeth died young.  In 1878 George Washington Stephens married Frances, her younger sister. At the time, Frances was 27 years of age and GW was nineteen years her senior.

George Washington Stephens started his own career in law before focusing his attentions on being a property owner, as his father had an extensive estate.  G W Stephens’ interest in politics led to his being elected a city Alderman in 1868, a capacity in which he served for 20 years, and where he was known for keeping a watchful eye on corporations and antitrust violations.  Stephens was then elected into the Québec legislature as a Cabinet minister in 1892.  He did not run for re-election in 1900 and was appointed to a provincial commission on colonization in 1902.  GW died on 20 June 1904 at the age of 71.

Frances and G W Stephens had one son, Francis Chattan Stephens (1887-1918). Chattan was a stockbroker at the Montréal Stock Exchange and founded the stockbroking firm F C Stephens & Co.  In 1912, he married Hazel Beatrice Kemp (1889-1916) in Toronto, Ontario.  She was the daughter of Canadian Member of Parliament and later military Minister, Sir Albert Edward Kemp.  Chattan and Hazel had two children, who were also Frances’ grandchildren.  They were Frances Elizabeth Stephens, born 1912, and John Harrison Chattan Stephens,  born 1913.

The Stephens family were respected and influential in Montréal. Frances Stephens was a known and socially active member of high society, and had the reputation of being a philanthropist.

Before the war Chattan Stephens had been a reservist with the Canadian armed forces. When the First World War broke out, Lieutenant Stephens was in the 13th Canadian battalion, and as part of the Canadian Expeditionary Force was sent to France.  Hazel followed him with her ​​little daughter Frances to England, where the battalion was initially stationed for further training.  Hazel rented a house in Sunningdale, Berkshire, close to London.   The infant John and his grandmother Frances remained in Montréal.

Chattan was not at the front for long, as he developed trench fever and was moved to Red Cross Hospital No. 2 in Rouen to be treated.  The disease developed endocarditis, an inflammation of the membrane surrounding the inside of the heart.  The seriousness of the situation compelled Chattan to be evacuated to England.

With her son ill,  Frances decided to sail to England to be with him and his family taking her grandson with her on the Lusitania. They travelled with Frances’ maid, Elise Oberlin, and John’s nurse, Caroline Milne of Liscard, Cheshire.

During the voyage, Frances Stephens shared a table in the dining room with Frederick Orr-Lewis, Lady Allan, her daughters Gwen and Anna, Dorothy Braithwaite, and William Robert Grattan Holt.

On the day of the disaster, the group had finished lunch and was in the lounge drinking coffee and smoking cigarettes when the torpedo struck the ship.  According to Orr-Lewis, they “rushed out on deck at once”, and Orr-Lewis made sure they stayed together and had lifebelts on. They did not know what to do as the port side lifeboats were not lowered successfully, so they waited on the port side of the boat deck, until the ship suddenly plunged and sank from beneath them.

When the water enveloped them, Orr-Lewis was holding Gwen’s hand, Lady Allan was holding Anna’s, Lady Allan’s maids Annie Walker and Emily Davis were with them, and Frances Stephens was holding onto her grandson John.  Dorothy Braithwaite was somehow separated from them.

Frances Stephens, her grandson, her maid, and her grandson’s nurse did not survive the sinking.  Frances’ body was recovered on the night of 7 May 1915, found wearing the lifebelt Orr-Lewis made sure she had.

As baby John was not found with Frances, he somehow must have been swept out of his grandmother’s arms while in the water.

Frances Stephens’ body was embalmed and scheduled to be returned to North America, as were many of the bodies of the wealthy.  John Wedderburn Wilson of Redolent, Caldy, her daughter Elizabeth’s husband, went to identify Frances’ body in Queenstown and handled the paperwork for Frances’ body to be transferred to Liverpool.

17 1915 May 15 G W Stephens.jpg

West Kirby News 15 May 1915

A devastated Lieutenant Chattan Stephens, his heart already weakened by endocarditis, died at home in Pine Avenue, Montréal, of the influenza pandemic (Spanish Flu) of 1918 on 16 October 1918. Hazel remarried and died in 1961.

After a delay of four months, Frances Stephens’ body was being returned to Canada to be buried with her husband in Mount Royal Cemetery, Montréal.

Frances was placed in a metal casket, boxed in a wooden crate, and booked aboard the Allan Line’s Hesperian to return to Montréal.

At 8:30 p.m. on 4 September 1915, the German submarine U-20 under the command of Kapitanleutnant Walther Schwieger attacked Hesperian 85 miles southwest of Fastnet Rock.  This was the same submarine and commander who sank the Lusitania, the sinking that had claimed Frances’ life. Schwieger fired one torpedo.  Hesperian did not sink immediately and a group of British vessels came to her rescue.

Save for a skeleton crew of the captain and her officers, Hesperian was evacuated. The nighttime evacuation and rescue was orderly and fair in the circumstances, and most boats were manned and lowered safely, except for one port side lifeboat that upset while lowering, killing 32. Survivors reported that there had been no panic aboard the ship.

Captain Main hoped the Hesperian could be towed to Queenstown or to be able to be beached. But on 6 September, some 130 miles west of Fastnet Rock and 37 miles from land, Hesperian sank. In an astounding coincidence, Mrs. Stephens’ casket, presumably still in Hesperian‘s hold, now lies not far from the Lusitania wreck which took her life.

Frances Stephens is commemorated in Montréal’s Mount Royal cemetery .

 

Stephens grave.jpg

Stephens’ memorial in Mount Royal Cemetery

It is not known if John Harrison Chatham Stephens is commemorated anywhere. He was just 2 years old.

Notes
Born : Frances 27 Jan 1851 in Edinburgh, Scotland; John 1913 in Canada
Death : 7 May 1915 at sea when RMS Lusitania was sunk
Address in UK : Redolent, Caldy (daughter Elizabeth)
Occupation : none
Commemorated : Frances : Mount Royal, Cemetery, Montréal, Canada; John : not known
Sources :  WKN, www.rmslusitania.info

THOMAS HENRY WILLIAMS

This section has been slightly augmented by Victoria Doran from text written by Heather Chapman.

20 1915 HOY May 15 Thos H Williams.jpg

West Kirby News 15 May 1915

Thomas Henry Williams junior was born about 1880 in Liverpool. According to newspaper reports he was known as Tom. He was christened on 18 Jan 1880 and was the son of Thomas Henry Williams senior (1851-1943)  and Mary Catherine Pritchard (1850-???).

Tom’s parents were both born in Anglesey. Thomas Henry senior was a butcher following in the footsteps of his father, John Williams, from Beaumaris.

Thomas Henry senior was with his parents in Church St, Beamaris, at the 1851 and 1861 censuses. By 1871 he was lodging with Hannah O’Neill at Scotland Road, Liverpool. Thomas Henry senior was assisting Hannah O’Neill as a pork butcher.

In 1872 Thomas Henry William senior married Mary Catherine Pritchard at St Matthews, Liverpool. At the 1881 census the family were living in Walton, Liverpool and Thomas Henry senior continued his profession as a pork butcher. The couple had 3 children, 2 girls and one boy. The boy was Tom aged one year old.

At the 1891 census Thomas Henry Williams senior and family were living at 78, Newby Street, West Derby. Thomas Henry senior had changed his occupation and was now a builder. He now had 4 daughters and 3 sons. Thomas Henry Williams senior continued to prosper and at the 1901 census the family lived in Kirkdale.

At the 1911 census the family had moved to Cartref, Birkenhead Road, Meols. Tom was aged 29 years and a cotton salesman.

Perhaps Tom was on business when he took the fateful voyage from America to Liverpool on the Lusitania in May 1915. He was returning from Texas to be married. He was musical and a noted cello player.

There is a window in St John’s Church, Meols, dedicated to his memory.

TH Williams window cropped.jpg

Memorial window at St John’s, Meols

The following report of the dedication of the window is from the West Kirby News of 4 December 2015

The memorial window which has been placed in St John the Baptist’s church, Great Meols, was dedicated by the Ven Archdeacon W Page Cox, Vicar, last Sunday morning. The inscription at the base of the window, about which there was a very interesting discussion at a recent Consistory Court, reads: “To the Glory of God, and in memory of Thomas Henry Williams, who lost his life when the SS Lusitania was torpedoed by a German submarine, 7th May 1915”.

Note that the Diocesan Consistory Church had to approve all memorials placed in churches.

That they were a prosperous family is confirmed by the probate record for Tom. He left nearly £4,000. He was one of the Lusitania’s 1st Class passengers. He was aged 35 years old.

Notes
Born : abt 1880 in Liverpool
Death : 7 May 1915 at sea when RMS Lusitania was sunk
Addresses : Laburnum House, 78 Newby Street, Liverpool (91); Kirkdale, Liverpool (01); Cartref, Birkenhead Road, Meols (11)
Occupation : cotton salesman
Commemorated : St John’s Church, Meols – memorial window
Sources : Census 91, 00 11; WKN; probate

ANNIE WILLIAMS AND 4 OF HER CHILDREN

This section has been written by Victoria Doran from notes made by Heather Chapman and information on www.rmslusitania.info

Harry John Williams (1868-???) (known as John) and Elizabeth Annie Millman (1878-1915) (known as Annie) were reportedly married in Manchester in 1896 but no marriage record has been found. In April 1904, they emigrated to the United States and settled in New Jersey where their 6 known children were born; John Edward (1905-1992) (known as Edward), Edith (1907-1992), George Albert (1908-1915), Ethel (190?-1915), Florence (1910-1915), and David (1915-1915). John later claimed that 3 more children had already died. In 1910 the family was living at 126 West 3rd Street, Plainfield City, New Jersey and John worked as a coachman.

Williams WKN 1915 May.jpeg

West Kirby News May 1915

This newspaper report is in some conflict with the story given later by Edith, the daughter who survived the sinking.

Edith’s story was that their neighbours in New Jersey believed that Annie and her children had been abandoned by John, so collected funds for their ticket back to England.

Aboard Lusitania, Edith helped her mother Annie take care of David, the youngest child who was only three months old. Edward and Edith were the only members of their family to survive the sinking. Annie and the rest of the children were lost.

John’s brother-in-law travelled to Ireland and collected Edward and Edith.

20 1915 HOY May 15 Williams family.jpg

West Kirby News 15 May 1915

It is probable that Deva Villa was on the corner of Church Road and Marmion Road in Hoylake.

Nearly 10 years later John sued Germany in The Mixed Claims Commission in America for $40,000 for the loss of Annie and four of their children and $250 for loss of personal effects. He had already failed to obtain any recompense in the UK.

The evidence in the case all came solely from John as Edward and Edith were in England at the time. From his recorded evidence

…that he was employed as a groom until April 1, 1915, when he entered the employ of the Cunard Steamship Company as a steward and sailed on the Lusitania for England on that date. He testifies that “He had previously arranged for his wife and six children to sail on the next voyage of the ‘Lusitania’ to England where they expected to set up housekeeping.” On reaching Liverpool Williams left the Lusitania to arrange for a house and prepare it for the arrival of his family and therefore did not sail on the Lusitania from New York May 1, 1915. His wife and six children were passengers on the Lusitania on her last trip.

In May, 1916, Williams, who was still employed as steward for the Cunard Line, brought his two children to the United States, where they remained with friends, but in a short time he took them back to England, where they have since resided. The son John Edward is now 20 and the daughter Edith now nearly 19 years of age. The testimony of neither has been presented to this Commission. The clear inferences from the facts stated are that they will continue to reside in England.

John’s case was dismissed and Edward’s and Edith’s claims failed on the grounds that emotional suffering was not a cause for financial settlement by 1925 standards. Neither child could prove direct financial support provided by Annie, and their father who was suing in the same court system would not have been likely to admit desertion at the possible cost of his $40,000

“….the record is barren of any statement of fact which would enable this commission to measure the damages, if any, sustained by the two surviving children of Mrs Williams and resulting from her death. There is not a scintilla of evidence in the record throwing any light on Mrs Williams’ character, pursuits, habits, relations to and influence over her children, or any fact on which the commission could base a conclusion that the surviving children had suffered pecuniary damages resulting from her death. It must be assumed that no such evidence of damages exists. At all events the claimants have wholly failed to discharge the burden resting on them to prove their case.”

The only money John would see from this disaster, apparently, would be the £5 given him by the Lusitania Relief Fund.

Both Edward and Edith eventually moved back to the United States, with Edward residing in New Jersey and Edith in California.

The bodies of Annie and children George, Ethel, Florence and David were not recovered. No memorial to them is known.

Notes
Born : Annie abt 1878 in England
              George Albert abt 1908 in New Jersey, USA
              Ethel Oct 1909 in New Jersey, USA
              Florence abt 1910 in New Jersey, USA
              David Feb 1915 in New Jersey, USA
Death : 7 May 1915 at sea when RMS Lusitania was sunk
Address : 126 West 3rd Street, Plainfield City, New Jersey, USA
Occupation : none
Commemorated : not known
Sources : US Census 10; WKN; http://www.rmslusitania.info

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