People's Stories

Everyone on the Lusitania's last voyage, including passengers and crew.

Percy Lawson

Percy Lawson

About Percy

Percy Lawson was born in Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, England, on the 1st May 1882, the son of William George and Rebecca Lawson.  As a young man, he went to Liverpool where he found work as a carter, before joining the mercantile marine as a ship’s steward.

He engaged as a first class waiter in the Steward's Department on the Lusitania at Liverpool on 12th April 1915 at a monthly wage of £4-5s-0d., (£4.25p.) and joined her at 7 a.m. on 17th April 1915, before she left the River Mersey for the last time.

Having completed her voyage to New York, he was on board in the early afternoon of 1st May when she left that city to begin what became her last trans-Atlantic crossing.  Six days later; however, on the afternoon of 7th May, she was torpedoed and sunk by the German submarine U-20, within sight of the coast of southern Ireland and only about fourteen hours steaming time away from the safety of her Liverpool base.

Waiter Lawson survived the sinking and having been rescued from the sea he was landed at Queenstown, from where he eventually made it back to Liverpool.  There, at the Cunard office in Water Street, he was given the balance of pay owed to him in respect of his service on board ship from 17th April 1915 until 8th May, 24 hours after the Lusitania had foundered.

Percy Lawson continued to serve in the mercantile marine until his death, aged 46 years, on the 4th March 1929.  At that time he was serving as a First Class Waiter on board the Cunard cruise liner RMS Carinthia, which was at that time navigating the Suez Canal.  Apparently, Percy Lawson committed suicide by ingesting a fatal dose of oxalic acid.  Probate was granted to John Ashton, described as a solicitor, and John Stephen, described as a cashier, on 28th August 1929.  His effects amounted to £2,259-12s-0d, (£2,259.60p).  This was later re-sworn and increased to £2,302-8s-8d, (£2,302.43½p).

Register of Births, Marriages and Deaths, 1891 Census of England and Wales, 1901 Census of England and Wales, Cunard Records, Probate Records, PRO BT 350, PRO BT 334,

Percy Lawson



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