Arthur Hugh Ford was born in Liverpool, Lancashire, England in 1878, the son of Charles Clarke and Rose Hannah Ford who lived at 83 Brook Street, Bootle, Lancashire. He married Flora Ford (née McDonald) and they lived at 'Glenaber', 42 Alexandra Drive, Orrell Park, Liverpool, Lancashire. They had a child, Arthur Leslie Ford, who died aged only two months in September 1908, and a daughter, Dorothy, born in 1911. Arthur Hugh Ford was well known in the local district and was an active Freemason, being a member of Bootle Lodge number 1473.
He joined the Cunard Steam Ship Company in the mid 1890s and had reached the rank of Chief Steward by the time he joined the
Lusitania. Before this he had served in a similar capacity on board the
Carmania, the Ivernia and the Saxonia.
He engaged as an extra chief steward on the Lusitania at Liverpool on 17 April 1915, the morning she left Liverpool for what would be her final voyage. As Extra Chief Steward his monthly rate of pay was stated in the Cunard ledger
Particulars of Engagement as being only one shilling. Presumably this was merely a token to be varied later, as he had engaged so late before the ship’s sailing. His previous ship had been the
His late engagement was a tragic decision for him for he was killed when the
Lusitania was sunk by the German submarine U-20 three weeks later, when she was on her way back to Liverpool from New York. At that stage she was steaming near the Old Head of Kinsale in southern Ireland and was only hours away from the safety of her home port. Arthur Ford was aged 37 years, although he had given his age as 34 upon engagement.
His body was recovered from the sea and landed at Queenstown, where it was given the reference number 58 in one of the temporary mortuaries. This must have been the one situated at the Cunard offices at Lynch’s Quay, because in 'The Cork Examiner' for 10 May 1915 an article about the tragedy stated: -
"In the morgue on Lynch's Quay the chief steward lies and also the second steward. They are both fine types of men, and apparently suffered little in meeting death."
As Chief Steward Frederick Jones and Second Steward Robert Chisholm both survived, one of the two bodies must have been that of Extra Chief Steward Ford, but the identity of the other is uncertain.
After Ford's body was positively identified it was sent to Messrs John Waugh and Sons, Funeral Directors of Liverpool on 12 May 1915.
The burial took place at 10.30am on 14 May in Everton Cemetery, Aintree in Non Conformist Section 4, Grave 176, which was the family grave. The ceremony was conducted by the Reverend James McMurchy of the Trinity Presbyterian Church, Orrell Lane, Walton, who also would officiate, the next day at the funeral of another Lusitania crew member, Fifth Engineer William Anderson. There is no memorial stone of any kind on Chief Steward Ford's grave.
Despite the recovery of his body and its subsequent burial, the records of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission list him as being missing and his name is correspondingly recorded on the Mercantile Marine Memorial at Tower Hill, London. The Commission's records make no mention of his home address or his widow, either and give his age at death as 34 years, which has obviously been taken from Cunard’s official records. This is in conflict with the burial records for Everton Cemetery which show his age to have been 40 years.
Similarly, despite his Masonic connections, he is not commemorated on the memorial to all the Liverpool and district Freemasons who lost their lives in the Great War, in the Masonic Hall in Hope Street, Liverpool, although his name is inscribed on the Scroll of Honour in Freemasons Hall in Great Queens Street, London.
His personal belongings were handed over to his widow Flora at the Aintree address on 8 June 1915 and consisted of two $10 bills, two 2$ bills, one $1 bill, £4-2s-6d (£4.12½), in British coins, one child’s ring, a purse, a bunch of keys and a wrist watch. Flora was granted administration of his estate, which amounted to £477-13s-5d (£477.66), at Liverpool on 25 July 1915. In August of the same year she was also given the balance of wages owing to him for his service on the
Lusitania’s final voyage.
The Liverpool and London War Risks Insurance Association Limited granted a yearly pension to Flora Ford to compensate her for the loss of her husband. This amounted to £201-13s-4d (£201.66) payable at the rate of £16-16s-2d (£16.81) per month.
In July Liverpool solicitors Hill Dickinson approached Cunard in Liverpool for a copy of the Coroner’s verdict on Arthur Ford’s death, which was required by the Scottish Insurance Company Limited. Ford’s family also intended to sue Cunard for compensation. The Company was unable to provide this and steered the solicitors towards the appropriate authority.
Flora Ford, Arthur’s widow, died in October 1941 aged 65 years and is buried in the same grave as her husband and infant son.
Register of Births, Marriages and Deaths, 1881 Census of England and Wales, 1891 Census of England and Wales, 1901 Census of England and Wales, 1911 Census of England and Wales, Bootle Times, Crosby Herald, Commonwealth War Graves Commission, Cunard Records, Geoff Cuthill, David Irving, Jim Kontzle, Tom McDonough, Probate Records, PRO BT 100/345, UniLiv.D92/1/1, UniLiv. PR 13/24, PRO BT 334.