William Henry Crutchley was born in Hanley, near Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire, England, in 1869, the son of Euphrates and Martha Crutchley (née Burgess), who were both cloth cap makers. When he was still young, his father had died and his mother remarried to a George Jervis, who was a labourer.
On the 10th June 1888, he married Mary Jane Burndred in Northwood, Stoke-on-Trent, and the couple had eight children, settling at 75. Etruria Vale, Sheldon, Stoke-on-Trent. William became a potter, which was not unnatural considering that his home town was the centre of the pottery and china industry in Great Britain.
On the 11th April 1914, he boarded the Lusitania at Liverpool, and disembarked in New York City on the 17th April. His destination was East Liverpool, Ohio, where his son, Euphrates was residing and working.
By the spring of 1915, however; he decided to return home and subsequently booked third class passage for himself, again, on the
Lusitania. Having left East Liverpool at the end of April, he joined the liner at the Cunard berth at Pier 54 in New York before she sailed out into the North River and the Atlantic Ocean, for the last time ever, in the early afternoon of 1st May 1915. He was seen off on his journey by his eldest son, Hugh.
He was killed six days later, on the afternoon of 7th May, after the liner was torpedoed and sunk by the German submarine
U-20, off the coast of southern Ireland and only hours away from her ultimate destination. As no trace of William Crutchley’s body was ever discovered and identified afterwards, he has no known grave. He was aged 46 years.
In the summer of 1915, his widow applied for financial assistance to The Lusitania Relief Fund, which had been set up after the disaster by The Lord Mayor of Liverpool and other worthy dignitaries, to help those survivors and relatives of the dead, who found themselves in difficulties as a result of the sinking. The committee administering the fund awarded her the sum of £1-0s-0d, and were to conduct further enquiries to determine if she should receive further assistance. Following consideration, she was awarded the sum of £0-6s-0d. per week.
Register of Births, Marriages and Deaths, England Select Marriages 1538 – 1973, 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, New York Passenger Lists 1820 – 1957, Cunard Records, Liverpool Record Office, PRO BT 100/345, UniLiv D92/2/122, UniLiv D92/2/11, Deaths at Sea 1871 – 1968, Graham Maddocks, Geoff Whitfield, Lawrence Evans, Michael Poirier, Jim Kalafus, Cliff Barry, Paul Latimer, Norman Gray.
Copyright © Peter Kelly.