James Beaumont was born in Stepney, London, Middlesex, England, in 1862, the son of Mr. & Mrs. William Beaumont. Nothing is known of his family except that his father was a tobacconist. After finishing his education, he first of all became a draper, then an insurance agent, and then an auctioneer, and this calling necessitated his travelling to and fro across the Atlantic Ocean to the United States of America and Canada.
On the 27th June 1880, he married Martha Caroline Wackett at St. Mark’s Church, Marylebone, London, and the family home was at ‘Frankfurt House‘, Felixstowe Road, Ipswich, Suffolk, England.
In 1909, James travelled to Canada with two of his sons – Gordon and Spenser. He returned to England alone later that year, leaving his sons behind to see if they could make a life for themselves in Calgary, Alberta. Then, in 1912, he returned to Calgary, accompanied by his wife and two of their other children – Violet and Dudley.
In the spring of 1915, James had reason to return to England and booked second cabin passage on the May sailing of the
Lusitania from New York to Liverpool.
He joined the liner at her berth at Pier 54 in New York on the morning of 1st May 1915 in time for her scheduled 10 o’clock departure and had his last ever view of the city when she began her delayed sailing just after mid-day. The delay was caused because she had to embark passengers, crew and cargo from the Anchor Liner the S.S.
Cameronia, which the British Admiralty had requisitioned for war service at the end of April.
Six days later, on the afternoon of 7th May 1915, James Beaumont was killed after the
Lusitania was torpedoed and sunk by the German submarine U-20, within sight of the coast of southern Ireland and only 250 miles away from her home port.
Despite enquiries by his brother-in-law, Ernest J. Wackett, 5. Richmond Road, Ilford, his body was never recovered from the sea and identified afterwards. He has no known grave. He was aged 52 years at the time of his death.
Probate of his estate was granted to his widow Martha at London on 19th October 1916, and his effects amounted to £960-0s-0d.
Register of Births, Marriages and Deaths, 1881 Census of England & Wales, 1891 Census of England & Wales, 1901 Census of England & Wales, 1911 Census of England & Wales, Canadian Passenger Lists 1865 – 1935, Deaths at Sea 1871 – 1968, Cunard Records, Lawrence Evans, Probate Records, PRO 22/71, UniLiv D92/2/128, Graham Maddocks, Geoff Whitfield, Michael Poirier, Jim Kalafus, Cliff Barry, Paul Latimer, Norman Gray.
Copyright © Peter Kelly