Samuel Hendy Caldecutt was born in Liverpool, England on 7 February 1883, the son of William Henry and Sarah Caldecutt. His father was a plumber who died when Samuel was a child. On 7 October 1909 Samuel married Eveline Elizabeth Beeston at All Saints Church, Toxteth Park, Liverpool and the couple lived with Eveline’s parents for the first few years of their marriage.
Samuel engaged as an assistant smoke room steward in the Steward's Department on board the
Lusitania at Liverpool on 12 April 1915 at a monthly rate of pay of £4-5s-0d, (£4.25) and joined the vessel at 7am on 17 April, before she sailed out of the River Mersey for the last time. It was not the first time that he had served on the vessel, being a ship’s steward by profession.
He survived the sinking three weeks later, when the liner was off the coast of southern Ireland only hours away from her home port, and described his experience of it to a reporter of 'The Wallasey News', which was published on Saturday 15 May 1915. He was very concerned that some allegations that had appeared in the press that the crew had not behaved in a proper manner should be refuted.
He had helped to launch Lifeboat number 13, which he estimated had contained 40 women and children, and went on to say:
"Considering the nature of the explosions and the short time the ship remained afloat, both the discipline on board and the number of people saved was remarkable."
He also elaborated on this theme to a reporter from 'The Wallasey and Wirral Chronicle', published on the same day: -
"Samuel Caldecott (sic.)..... has pointed out that a splendid discipline obtained among the crew.
Mr. Caldecott has stated that seven and thirteen have always been his lucky numbers. He was born on the 7th, married on the 7th and was saved from drowning on the 7th of May in No. 13 Lifeboat. "When I saw the boat’s number I knew that I should be saved, and was convinced of it when I remembered that it was also the seventh day of the month"."
Two female crew members, Stewardesses May Bird and Fanny Morecroft and Steward’s Boy William Borrows also owed their lives to being picked up by Lifeboat number 13.
On his return to Wallasey he went over to the offices of the Cunard Steam Ship Company in Water Street, Liverpool and was officially discharged from the
Lusitania's final voyage. Upon his discharge he was paid the balance of wages owed to him in respect of the liner’s last ever voyage, which amounted to £4-9s-6d, (£4.47½). His service for this amount was reckoned to be from 17 April until 8 May 1915, 24 hours after the liner had been sunk.
Cunard records show the assistant smoke room steward's surname to be spelled Caldicott, and is shown with an 'e' in the local newspaper accounts, however; his correct surname was certainly Caldecutt.
Samuel Caldecutt continued to serve as a smoke room steward for many years after his ordeal, serving principally on the Cunarder RMS Aquitania.
Samuel Caldecutt died on the 1 March 1944 at Herrison Hospital, Herrison, Dorset, England, aged 61 years. His wife had predeceased him on the 25 August 1924 at Southampton, Hampshire, England.
Register of Birth, Marriages, and Deaths, 1901 Census of England and Wales, 1911 Census of England and Wales, Cunard Records, New York Passenger Lists 1820 – 1957, PRO BT 100/345, Wallasey News (Photo 15/05/15), Wallasey & Wirral Chronicle, Probate Records, PRO BT 350.