Vincent Backhouse Settle was born in Liverpool, Lancashire, England, on the 29th April 1860, the son of Robert and Sarah Settle. Vincent worked as a grocer and barman before he finally enlisted in the British Mercantile Marine as a ship’s steward on passenger liners. On the 25th September 1893, he married Elizabeth Baker in Liverpool, but after twenty years of marriage, she died in 1914. There were no children as a result of this marriage. In 1915, Vincent lived at 7, Ludwig Grove, Anfield, Liverpool.
He engaged as a first class 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. (£5.25p.). He joined the ship just five days later at 7 a.m., before she left England on her last ever crossing to New York. He had served on the ship prior to that.
The liner crossed the Atlantic without incident and having docked in New York, eventually left there on the early afternoon of 1st May, for her return to Liverpool. Vincent Settle’s responsibility on that voyage was for saloon cabins E41 to E55, alternate numbers only, which included six members of the Pearl family from New York, and their two maids
Then, six days later, on the afternoon of 7th May, the Lusitania was torpedoed and sunk by the German submarine
U-20, within sight of the coast of southern Ireland. At that time, she was only about 250 miles away from the safety of her home port.
Steward Settle survived this action, however, and having eventually got back to Liverpool, he was officially paid off from the
Lusitania’s last voyage, the balance of wages owing to him being £4-9s-6d, (£4.47½p.). In common with all the liner’s crew, killed or survived, his period of pay was reckoned from 12th April until 8th May 1915, 24 hours after the liner had gone down.
In an interview with the author in August 1998, survivor Audrey Lawson Johnston (Audrey Pearl at the time of the sinking), stated that on a trans-Atlantic crossing in 1939, on the R.M.S. Queen Mary, the family met one of the stewards who had looked after them on that fateful day in 1915. Logically, this must have been either Vincent Settle or Alf Wood from Liverpool, but both would have been aged at least 74 years of age at the time, and it is known that Vincent Settle was deceased by this time!
He continued to serve as a steward on passenger liners for a number of years following his experience of surviving the sinking of the
In 1921, Vincent married for a second time, his second wife being Emilie Crosby, but nothing else is known about him.
Vincent Settle died in Liverpool on the 4th December 1933, aged 73 years.
Register of Births, Marriages and Deaths, 1861 Census of England & Wales, 1871 Census of England & Wales, 1881 Census of England & Wales, 1891 Census of England & Wales, 1901 Census of England & Wales, 1911 Census of England & Wales, Cunard Records, New York Times, PRO 22/71, PRO BT 100/345, PRO BT 349.