William Lake was born in Warrington, Lancashire, England, in 1860, the son of Philip and Margaret Lake of Powys Street, Warrington. He was educated at The People’s College, Warrington, under the tutorship of a Mr. Brawmall.
On completing his education he became a draper and then a commercial traveller. He married Martha Elizabeth Roberts in Warrington in 1882, and the couple had two sons – Ernest William (born in 1883), and Arthur Holt (born in 1887). Sometime later, he joined the mercantile marine as a steward and the family relocated to Liverpool. The family home was at 80, Brookdale Road, Sefton Park, Liverpool, Lancashire. Ernest Lake died on the 25th June 1903, aged 19 years, when he suffered head injuries as a result of falling from his bicycle. It was reported that the wheels of his bicycle skidded on tramway rails.
William Lake engaged as a second cabin bedroom steward in the Stewards' Department on board the
Lusitania at Liverpool, on 12th April 1915 at a monthly rate of pay of £4-5s-0d., (£4.25p.) and reported for duty on the morning of 17th April 1915 before the liner slid out of the River Mersey for the last time.
Having completed the liner’s voyage to New York, William Lake was on board on 1st May 1st 1915 when she began her return leg to her home port. Six days later, the steamer was torpedoed and sunk by the German submarine
U-20, within sight of the coast of southern Ireland and about 250 miles from Liverpool. William Lake was not counted amongst the survivors, nor was his body ever recovered and identified afterwards, despite his son travelling to Queenstown in the hope of finding his father - alive or dead. As a result, he is commemorated on the Mercantile Marine Memorial at Tower Hill, London. He was aged 55 years, although when he engaged, he gave his age as 49.
He is also commemorated on the family grave in Warrington Cemetery. Although the grave stones are broken and cracked and the cross, which once stood on the top, has been toppled and now lies broken in three pieces, the original inscription remains on a three tiered base. It states: -
WHO WAS LOST ON THE
S.S. LUSITANIA, MAY 7TH 1915
AGED 55 YEARS
Administration of his estate was granted to his widow Martha, on 15th June 1915 and his effects amounted to £165-16s-0d, (£165. 80p). In August 1915, she was also given the balance of wages owed to him in respect of his service before the vessel sank. This was reckoned from 17th April until 8th May, 1915, 24 hours after the Lusitania had gone down.
The Liverpool and London War Risks Insurance Association Limited granted Martha Lake an annual pension to compensate her for the loss of her husband. This amounted to £25-11s-10d. (£25.59p.) which was payable at the rate of £2-2s-8d. (£2.13½p.) per month.
Martha Lake died aged 87 years in October 1946 after 31 years of widowhood, and is also commemorated on the family grave.
Register of Births, Marriages and Deaths, 1861 Census of England and Wales, 1871 Census of England and Wales, 1881 Census of England and Wales, 1891 Census of England and Wales, 1901 Census of England and Wales, 1911 Census of England and Wales, Commonwealth War Graves Commission, Cunard Records, David Irving, Robert O'Brien, Probate Records, PRO BT 100/345, Stuart Williamson, UniLiv. PR 13/24, PRO BT 334.