John Booth was born in Heywood, Lancashire, England, towards the end of 1879, the son of John and Elizabeth Booth (née Rothwell). His father owned Belgrave Shuttle Works, a business making shuttles for the local textile industry, while his mother was a dressmaker. The family originally resided at 95. South Street, and later at 10. St. James Terrace, Heywood.
On completion of his education, John entered the family business and became a salesman and commercial traveller for the company. He married Annie Lee in Heywood on the 12th April 1904, and had two children – Nora and John Jr., and in 1915, they lived at 3, Garden Terrace, Blackpool, Lancashire, England.
On the death of his father, John took over the family business until he sold it to a rival company, Messrs. Pilkington. Then, around 1911, he became involved with an American timber merchants who dealt in timber used for making shuttles for the textile industry and was appointed their English representative in 1914.
In February 1915, he had travelled to the United States of America on business and deciding to return home, he set out from Alexandria, Louisiana, to New York, where, on the morning of 1st May 1915, he boarded the
Lusitania as a second cabin passenger, at her berth at Pier 54, in time for her scheduled 10.00 a.m. departure. This was then postponed until the early afternoon whilst the liner loaded cargo and took on board passengers and crew from Anchor Liner the S.S. Cameronia which the British Admiralty had requisitioned as a troop ship at the end of April.
Six days later, John Booth was killed after the Lusitania was torpedoed and sunk by the German submarine
U-20, within sight of The Old Head of Kinsale in southern Ireland, only hours away from her Liverpool destination and home port. As his body was not recovered and identified afterwards, he has no known grave. He was aged 38 years.
Soon after the sinking, his widow Annie applied to The Lusitania Relief Fund, which had been set up after the disaster by The Lord Mayor of Liverpool and other local dignitaries, to help those survivors and relatives of the dead, who found themselves in financial difficulties as a result of the sinking. The committee administering the fund awarded her the sum of £11-10s-0d., (£11.50p), £5-0s-0d in final settlement for herself, and the remainder to be paid in instalments of 2/6 to her children, until January 1916.
Administration of John Booth’s will was also granted to Annie Booth at London on 10th December 1915, his effects amounting to £9-16s-9d, (£9.84p).
Register of Births, Marriages and Deaths, 1881 Census of England & Wales, 1891 Census of England & Wales, 1901 Census of England & Wales, 1911 Census of England & Wales, New York Passenger Lists 1820 – 1957, Cunard Records, Probate Records, Deaths at Sea 1871 – 1968, UniLiv. PR13/6, The Rochdale Observer, Graham Maddocks, Geoff Whitfield, Michael Poirier, Jim Kalafus, Cliff Barry, Paul Latimer, Norman Gray.
Copyright © Peter Kelly