Thomas “Tom” Agnew was born in Ballylummin, Ahoghill, County Antrim, Ireland in 1888, the son of John and Margaret Ann (Annie) Agnew (née Millar). His trade was that of mill worker, although it is also believed that he had been a carpenter.
He arrived in New York on board the S.S. California on the 10th May 1910, accompanied by his brother, William, having sailed from Londonderry. Their brother, John, was already residing in New York at this time. Eventually, both William and Thomas made their way to Monessen, Virginia, where they found employment, and in 1911, Thomas’ fiancée, Beatrice Thompson, travelled from Ireland to marry him.
His late father, John, had been a farmer who died in September 1914, and in the spring of 1915, Thomas and his wife had decided to return to Ireland to take over the running of the family farm.
As a consequence, they booked third class passage on the Lusitania and having left Monessen at the end of April, they boarded the liner on the morning of 1st May 1915, at the Cunard berth in New York harbour, in time for her delayed sailing, which finally began just after noon.
Six days later, they were both dead - killed after the Cunarder had been torpedoed and sunk twelve miles of the southern coast of their native land. As neither of their bodies was ever recovered and identified afterwards, neither has a known grave. They were both aged 27 years.
There is a memorial stone in cemetery of the First Presbyterian Church in Ahoghill, County Antrim, Northern Ireland, which states: -
IN MEMORY OF HIS BELOVED WIFE
MARGARET ANN AGNEW,
WHO DIED ON 21ST MAY 1913,
AGED 68 YEARS.
ALSO THE ABOVE NAMED
WHO DIED 15TH SEPTEMBER 1914
AGED 66 YEARS.
ALSO HIS SON, THOMAS W. AGNEW,
AND HIS WIFE, WHO PERISHED ON
THE “LUSITANIA”, 7TH MAY 1915.
1901 Census of Ireland, 1911 Census of Ireland, New York Passenger Lists 1820 - 1957, Ballymena Observer, Cunard Records, Deaths at Sea 1871 – 1968, PRO BT 100/345, Graham Maddocks, Geoff Whitfield, Michael Poirier, Jim Kalafus, Cliff Barry, Paul Latimer, Norman Gray.
Copyright © Peter Kelly