Henry Ross was born in Liverpool, Lancashire, England on 16 April 1866, the son of Francis and Caroline Ross. He married Eleanor Snodgrass in Liverpool in 1895 and in 1915 they lived at 28 Cornett Road, Aintree, Liverpool with their three sons; Henry, Francis Richard and Alfred Ernest. He was an active Freemason being a member of Kirkdale Lodge number 1756, based in Liverpool.
Henry Ross senior was a professional sailor in the Mercantile Marine and had served on the ships of the Cunard Steam Ship Company from at least 1908, when he is known to have served on the liner
Carmania. He engaged as a barkeeper in the Stewards' Department on board the
Lusitania at Liverpool on 12 April 1915 and reported for duty on the morning of 17 April, before the liner left the River Mersey for the last time. As a barkeeper his monthly rate of pay was £4-5s-0d (£4.25). He was a regular crew member on board the
He completed the liner’s voyage to New York and was serving on board on the afternoon of 7 May 1915 when the liner - six days out of New York on her return journey across the Atlantic - was torpedoed and sunk by the German submarine
U-20. At that stage she was within sight of the coast of southern Ireland and only hours away from her home port.
Barkeeper Ross was killed as a result of this sinking and as his body was never recovered and identified afterwards, he has no known grave. As a consequence, his name is embossed on the Mercantile Marine Memorial at Tower Hill, London. He was aged 49 years.
On 28 June 1915 administration of his estate was granted to his widow Eleanor, his effects amounting to £268-2s-0d (£268.10). The following month she was also paid the balance of wages owing to him in respect of his service on the
Lusitania, which was reckoned to be from 17 April to 8 May, 24 hours after the liner had sunk. The Liverpool and London War Risks Insurance Association Limited granted Eleanor Ross an annual pension which amounted to £31-14s-2d (£31.71) payable at the rate of £2-12s-11d (£2.64½) per month.
Eleanor Ross died in October 1947, aged 80 years, and was buried in the family grave in Anfield Cemetery in Liverpool. Throughout her life, she could never accept that her husband was dead, as he was such a good swimmer. Until the day she died she always harboured the hope that he would one day come home again, safe and sound.
Henry Ross’s name and his Lusitania connection are inscribed on the headstone along with other family commemorations. The part which is pertinent to him states:
"ALSO OF HENRY ROSS,
BELOVED HUSBAND OF ELEANOR ROSS, .....
WHO WAS LOST IN THE LUSITANIA 7TH MAY 1915
AGED 48 YEARS.
'ASLEEP IN THE DEEP' "
The gravestone is made of sandstone which is in surprisingly good condition, except that in the 1990s it was found to have been snapped in half. Through the efforts of Henry Ross’ grandchildren it has been repaired and now stands proudly once more in silent tribute to one of the many victims of the Lusitania sinking.
He is also commemorated on a bronze roll of honour dedicated to Freemasons from the Liverpool district who were killed in the Great War, at the Masonic Hall in Hope Street, Liverpool.
Two other crew members, who were killed on board the Lusitania were also members of Kirkdale Lodge. They were Boilermaker Richard Gould who came from Bootle, near Liverpool and Second Cabin Bedroom Steward DC Handlin, who came from Waterloo, also near Liverpool.
Register of Births, Marriages and Deaths, 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, Jim Kontzle, Probate Records, PRO BT 100/345., Norma Ross, UniLiv. PR 13/24, PRO BT 334.