William Sinnott was born in Wexford, County Wexford, Ireland on the 25th June 1862. He was married, his wife’s name being Mary, and they had at least one child, a son, John, before they emigrated from Ireland and settled in Liverpool.
It is likely he came from a seafaring family and he became a fireman in the Mercantile Marine. In 1915, he lived at 42, Hood Street, Bootle, Lancashire, which was just along the River Mersey from Liverpool, towards the sea.
On 12th April 1915, at Liverpool, he engaged as a fireman in the Engineering Department on board the
Lusitania, at a monthly rate of pay of £6-10s-0d, (£6.50p.), £1-0s-0d. of which was advanced to him at the time. This advance indicates that he was known to the employees of the Cunard Steam Ship Company and he had, indeed, served on the
He reported for duty on board, at 8.00 a.m. on the morning of 17th April 1915, before the liner left Liverpool for the last time and he completed the first leg of her voyage to New York without mishap.
He was still serving as one of ‘The Black Gang’ when the Lusitania left New York on her return voyage to Liverpool on the early afternoon of 1st May. Six days later, on the afternoon of 7th May, she was torpedoed and sunk by the German submarine
U-20 off the southern coast of Ireland and only hours away from her home port.
Although many firemen lost their lives as a result of this action - approximately per cent of them, in fact, William Sinnott managed to survive the sinking and having been rescued from the sea and landed at Queenstown, he was eventually able to make it back to Liverpool.
Once there, he was officially discharged from the last voyage of the Lusitania and was paid the balance of wages owing to him, which amounted to £4-14s-0d., (£4.70p). This sum was in respect of his service on board from 17th April 1915, until 8th May, 24 hours after the vessel had foundered!
Fireman Sinnott had two relatives also serving as firemen on the Lusitania’s
last voyage. His uncle was Fireman Matthew Murphy, who lost his life as a result of the sinking and his cousin was Fireman James Murphy, who survived.
William Sinnott continued to serve on merchant vessels for many years after, most often of the sister ship of the Lusitania, the RMS Mauritania, and did so until at least 1931, when he was aged 69 years!!!
William Sinnott died at Moorfield Hospital, Southampton, Hampshire, on the 30th October 1952, aged 90 years. At the time of his death, his address was 65. Lower Canal Walk, Southampton. When his will was proven on 10th June 1953, administration was granted to his widow, Mary Ann Sinnott, and his effects amounted to £217-14s-1d, (£217.70½p).
Register of Births, Marriages and Deaths, 1891 Census of England and Wales, 1901 Census of England and Wales, Cunard Records, PRO BT 100/345, UniLiv.D92/1/6, Probate Records, PRO BT 350.