Stanley Rourke was born in Liverpool, Lancashire, England, on the 14th April 1893, the son of Henry and Ellen Rourke. He came from a large family, and sometime after his father died in 1898, Stanley and one of his brothers were sent to an orphanage, presumably because his mother couldn’t manage her large family.
Despite having been placed in an orphanage, it would appear that family ties were closely maintained because Stanley resided with his mother and his siblings in his later teenage years. His mother re-married in 1907, and it is perhaps after this event that family circumstances improved.
Stanley became a lithographic artist, but abandoned this career to join the British Mercantile Marine as a steward’s boy in 1907. As he grew older, he became a waiter and steward in the Steward’s Department on passenger liners, mostly on those plying their trade on the trans-Atlantic routes.
He engaged as a lift attendant in the Steward’s Department on board the Lusitania, at Liverpool, on the 12th April 1915, and joined the vessel before she left the River Mersey for the last time, five days later.
He survived the sinking three weeks later and after being rescued from the sea, he was landed at Queenstown, from where he made the journey across the Irish Sea back to Liverpool.
There, he was officially discharged from the Lusitania’s last voyage and paid the balance of his wages which were in respect of his sea service from 17th April 1915 until 8th May 1915 - 24 hours after the ship had gone down.
Register of Births, Marriages and Deaths, 1911 Census of England and Wales, Cunard Records, PRO BT 350.