William Bishop was born in Constantine, Cornwall, England, in late 1870, the second son of Thomas and Elizabeth Jane Bishop (née Grigg) of Brill Water, Cornwall, England.
He married Elizabeth Jane Vincent, who was known as ‘Janey’, in Falmouth in 1900, and they lived at Church Town, Constantine, Penryn, Cornwall.
He was a stonemason and granite cutter by profession and was also a Freemason. In 1911, he went to work in Knowles, California, U.S.A. He had previously gone to New York in 1905, but how long he stayed there, and when he returned, are unknown. By early 1915, however, perhaps because of the war, he decided to return to Cornwall to settle down there for good and booked a third class passage on the
Lusitania, sailing from New York on 1st May.
He lost his life when the liner was sunk and as his body was never recovered and identified afterwards, he has no grave. He was aged 44 years.
He is, however, commemorated on the family grave in Constantine Churchyard. The inscription on the stone states: -
IN EVER LOVING MEMORY OF MY
DEARLY BELOVED HUSBAND
WHO WAS LOST AT SEA IN THE
SINKING OF THE S.S. LUSITANIA
OFF KINSALE MAY
AGED 44 YEARS.
REST IN PEACE, WE WILL MEET AGAIN.
I MISS HIM, HE WAS GOOD.
An article about his death was published in The Falmouth Packet on 14th May 1915 which poignantly outlined the effects of his loss. It stated: -
When news of the foundering of the vessel reached Constantine the terrible suspense of the wife and the husband's parents and friends can be easily imagined. Mrs. Bishop was grief stricken and she kept a pathetic vigil awaiting the arrival of the telegram containing news of her husband's safety, but it never came. When the list of survivors was published the name of Bishop was not included in it and all hope was abandoned.
He had been very successful in America but whether he was bringing his savings home with him is not known. His photograph has been sent to the Cunard Line with instructions that if the body was found it should be sent to Constantine for interment."
When his will was proven at Bodmin, Cornwall on 30th July 1915, administration was granted to his widow Janey, and his effects amounted to £279-17s-5d, (£279.87½).
Janey Bishop's life was blighted by tragedy. She and her husband had had a little girl named Edna, but she had died, aged only two, in 1909. Janey herself was blessed with a long, if not lonely life, dying in February 1959, aged 89 years.
Register of Births, Marriages and Deaths, 1871 Census of England & Wales, 1881 Census of England & Wales, 1891 Census of England & Wales, 1901 Census of England & Wales, Britain's Maritime Memorials, Cornish Echo, Cornwall Advertiser, Cunard Records, Christine Donovan, Falmouth Packet, Probate Records, Deaths at Sea 1871 – 1968, PRO BT 100/345, UniLiv D92/2/156, Graham Maddocks, Geoff Whitfield, Michael Poirier, Jim Kalafus, Cliff Barry, Paul Latimer, Norman Gray.
Copyright © Peter Kelly