Thomas Adamson was born in Paterson, New Jersey, in the United States of America on 31 August 1880, the son of Thomas and Hannah E Adamson. His parents were from England, and his father was a master mariner. Despite being born in America, Thomas was a British subject by virtue of the nationality of his parents.
At a young age Thomas and his family returned to England and settled in Liverpool. After leaving school he became an apprentice joiner but later followed his father to sea. He became a waiter with the Cunard Steam Ship Company. When ashore Thomas lodged in Southport, Lancashire, at the parents of his friend and fellow mercantile marine waiter Bill Edgar, at 27 Virginia Street. On his Seaman’s Discharge Book, Thomas stated that he was born in Macclesfield, which was the birthplace of his father.
On 12 April 1915 he engaged as a first class waiter in the Stewards' Department on board the
Lusitania at Liverpool, at a monthly wage of £4-5s-0d, (£4.25). He joined the vessel at 7am five days later, before she made her last ever departure from the port of Liverpool, on her regular passage to New York.
Three weeks later, he survived her torpedoing and sinking when she was six days out of New York and only hours away from her home port, off the coast of southern Ireland. He was rescued from the sea and having been landed at Queenstown, although slightly injured, he was still able to cable Bill Edgar’s parents: -
LIST OF SURVIVORS INCOMPLETE, BUT HAVE NOT YET SEEN BILL.
Edgar was in fact killed in the sinking and his body never was found.
Waiter Adamson eventually returned to Liverpool and was paid the balance of wages owing to him in respect of his time on board the
Lusitania, which was counted from 17 April until 8 May 1915, 24 hours after the liner had gone down. This balance amounted to £4-9s-6d, (£4.47½).
In late 1916 Thomas married Gertrude Day in Ormskirk, and the couple travelled to the United States of America on their honeymoon. Thomas’s mother was residing at Long Island, New York, at this time.
Thomas Adamson continued to serve as a waiter with the Cunard Steam Ship Company for many years, serving most of his time on the
Lusitania’s sister ship, the Mauritania. For convenience, his family resided in Southampton to be close to where the transatlantic liners sailed to and from the United States of America.
Thomas Adams died on 18 October 1945 at The Borough Hospital, Shirley Warren, Southampton, aged 65 years. Administration of his estate, which amounted to £348-16s-8d (£348.83) was granted to his widow, Gertrude, on 22 December 1945.
Register of Births, Marriages and Deaths, 1891 Census of England and Wales, 1901 Census of England and Wales, Cunard Records, Probate Records, PRO BT 100/345, PRO BT 348, PRO BT 349.