Henry Clifford Ashman, known both as ‘Henry’ and ‘Clifford’, was born at Beacon Farm, Doulting, near Shepton Mallet, Somerset, England, in 1888, the son of Henry Giles and Sarah Culliford Ashman (née Salvidge). His father was a farmer, and Henry was one of eight children. His mother died in 1905.
His home was at The Beacon Inn, in Shepton Mallet, Somerset.
On the 17th February 1909, he left London on board the Marathon, bound for Brisbane, Australia. After a six week voyage, he arrived in Australia on the 30th March, and eventually found employment as a labourer at the Bingera Plantation, Wide Bay, Queensland.
After a period of four years living and working at the Bingera Plantation, Henry decided to move on, and on the 12th January 1914 he arrived in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. From there, he went to Butte, Montana, where he found work as a miner.
In the spring of 1915, he had decided to return to Somerset to help his father work the family farm. As a consequence, he booked third class passage for himself on the
Lusitania and joined the vessel before she left her berth at Pier 54 in New York, on 1st May 1915.
Six days later when the liner was torpedoed and sunk, he was lucky enough to be counted amongst the survivors and having been landed at Queenstown, he eventually made it back to Somerset. He was aged 27 years at the time of the sinking.
Some time after his return to Shepton Mallet, Henry Ashman applied to The Lusitania Relief Fund for financial assistance to make up for some of his lost possessions. This fund was administered by The Lord Mayor of Liverpool and a committee of local worthies. It is not known whether or not he was successful with his application, but he does not appear on a list of successful applicants stored in The Liverpool Record Office.
In 1918, Henry Ashman married Mary Louise Tilke in Shepton Mallet, and the couple had two children – Louis V. and Marie Y..
On the 13th July 1968, Henry Ashman died in Thornbury, Somerset, aged 80 years.
Register of Births, Marriages and Deaths, 1891 Census of England & Wales, 1901 Census of England & Wales, Victoria Australia Assisted and Unassisted Passenger Lists 1839 – 1923, Canadian Passenger Lists 1865 – 1935, Cunard Records, Liverpool Record Office, PRO BT 100/345, Graham Maddocks, Geoff Whitfield, Michael Poirier, Jim Kalafus, Cliff Barry, Paul Latimer, Norman Gray.
Copyright © Peter Kelly