William Pitchforth was born at Liverpool, Lancashire in 1868, the son of George and Martha Pitchforth. In 1875, George Pitchforth died, and later in the same year Martha married John Doherty, a carter who originally came from Douglas, Isle of Man.
On the 26th December 1892, he married Jane Higham in St. Mary’s Church, Kirkdale, Liverpool, and the couple went on to have seven children. The family home was at 27. Devonshire Place, Everton, Liverpool.
He was employed as a fireman in the Engineering Department on board the Lusitania, and signed on under the name of William Dougherty, which suggests he might have adopted his stepfather’s family name when working as a seaman.
He did not survive the sinking of the ship and his body was never found and identified afterwards. As a result, he is commemorated on the Mercantile Marine War Memorial at Tower Hill, London. He was aged 47 years.
Both his parents and his wife pre-deceased him and in August 1915, John Pitchforth was officially discharged from the last voyage of the
Lusitania and his family paid the balance of wages owed to him, which was respect of his service on board the
Lusitania from 30th April 1915, until 8th May, 24 hours after the vessel had gone down! In addition, The Liverpool and London War Risks Insurance Association Limited granted a yearly pension to one Mrs. Margaret Hughes, who must have had guardianship over the youngest Pitchforth children, which amounted to £15-18s-8d. (£15.93½p.), payable at the rate of £1-6s-7d. (£1.33p.) per month.
Register of Births, Marriages and Deaths, 1871 Census of England and Wales, 1881 Census of England and Wales, 1901 Census of England and Wales, 1911 Census of England and Wales, Commonwealth War Graves Commission, Cunard Records, Jean Pitchforth, UniLiv. PR 13/24, PRO BT 334.