Ernest Hallam was born in Hale, Cheshire, England on 3 July 1877, the son of Alfred and Jane Hallam. On completing his education he became a telegraphist, then a stationers assistant, before becoming a steward on board ocean-going liners in the mercantile marine.
In 1901 he married Matilda Harris Rood and the couple had three children; Gladys, born in 1903, Ida Kathleen, born in 1905, and Thomas Alfred in 1912. In 1915 the family home was at 87 Buchanan Road, Seacombe, Wallasey, Cheshire.
He had served on the Lusitania since 1910 and engaged for her last voyage as a second cabin bedroom steward in the Stewards' Department at Liverpool on 12 April 1915 at a monthly rate of pay of £4-5s-d (£4.25). He reported for duty five days later, before the liner left the River Mersey for the last time.
Three weeks later he was one of the lucky survivors when the Lusitania was torpedoed and sunk. Having been rescued from the sea and landed at Queenstown, he travelled back to his Seacombe home.
Shortly afterwards he was officially discharged from the Lusitania’s
final voyage at the Cunard offices at Liverpool and paid the balance of wages owing to him, which amounted to £4-9s-6d (£4.47½). This was in respect of his sea service from 17 April 1915 until 24 hours after the liner had gone down.
On 1 April 1916 Matilda Hallam died at home, aged 40 years, and was interred in Hale Cemetery.
On 19 October 1916 Ernest was called up to serve in the army. He was placed on the reserve, perhaps because of his family circumstances, but in May 1917 he was called up for the Army Veterinary Corps, as 28295 Private Ernest Hallam. He remained in England for the duration of his service, which ended in March 1919.
Ernest returned to the mercantile marine, continuing to serve as a steward for many years. He died in Wallasey, Cheshire, England on 31 January 1940, aged 62 years.
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, Cunard Records, Wallasey News, Wallasey & Wirral Chronicle, Liverpool Echo, PRO BT 350.