Richard Joseph Danson was born in Birkenhead, Cheshire, England in 1868, the son of John Anselm Danson, and his wife Mary (née Morrison). His father was a plumber, but rather than follow his father’s trade, he enlisted in the British Mercantile Marine as a steward.
In 1900, he married his wife, Mary Ellen (née O’Leary), and in 1915, they lived at 12 Cavendish Street, Birkenhead, with their son, and only child, Richard Francis, who was born in 1903.
Richard Danson engaged as an assistant pantry steward in the Stewards Department, on board the
Lusitania at Liverpool on 12 April 1915 at a monthly wage of £6. He reported for duty on the morning of 17 April, in time for the liner’s last ever sail down the River Mersey. It was not his first voyage on the liner.
He survived the sinking three weeks later and returned to Birkenhead, where he was able to give an account of his experiences of the sinking and his survival, to a reporter of 'The Birkenhead News and Advertiser' which was printed in the edition of 12 May 1915:
"He said that he was down below when the vessel was struck and immediately made his way up on deck. When he arrived there, the ship had taken a big list to the starboard side. He put on a lifebelt and sat on the rail, and waited until he was close to the water before sliding off into the sea.
The doomed liner was then practically full of water and there was very little suction. After swimming for about a mile, Mr. Danson found an upturned boat and clambered up. He then managed to secure three rafts and rescued about 16 women and children. Following a long and anxious wait, they were eventually taken on board the trawler Indian Empire and landed at Queenstown."
Pantry Steward Danson was eventually officially discharged from the Lusitania’s last voyage and paid the balance of wages owing to him. These, from 12 April until the morning of 8 May, 24 hours after the liner went down, amounted to £5-15s-4d (£5.81).
Mary Ellen Danson died in Birkenhead in 1919, aged 48 years.
Richard Joseph Danson died in Birkenhead in 1940, aged 71 years.
Richard Francis Danson, Richard Joseph Danson's son, followed in his father’s footsteps by serving as a steward in the mercantile marine. He died in Birkenhead in 1974, aged 71 years.
Register of Births, Marriages and Deaths, 1871 Census of England and Wales, 1891 Census of England and Wales, 1901 Census of England and Wales, 1911 Census of England and Wales, Birkenhead News, Cunard Records, PRO BT 100/345.