People's Stories

Everyone on the Lusitania's last voyage, including passengers and crew.

William Sephton

William Sephton

About William

William Alfred Sephton was born in Liverpool, Lancashire, on the 22nd or 23rd of December 1894, the son of William Alfred and Emily Sephton.  The family home was at 114. Walton Road, Kirkdale, Liverpool.

On completion of his education, and while still a teenager, he found employment at the Hotel Royal, Waterloo, Liverpool, before he joined the British Mercantile Marine as a cook on trans-Atlantic liners.

He engaged as Night Fireman’s Cook in the Stewards Department, on board the Lusitania at Liverpool and reported for duty on the morning of 17th April; in time for the liners last ever sail down the River Mersey.

Having completed the liner’s crossing to New York without mishap, William Sephton was still serving on board in the same capacity on the early afternoon of 1st May, as the Lusitania left New York on the start of her return voyage to Liverpool.  Then, six days into the voyage, on the afternoon of 7th May, she 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 fourteen hours steaming time away from the safety of her home port. William Sephton managed to survive this action and having been rescued from the sea and landed at Queenstown, he eventually made it back to Merseyside.

He was also paid the balance of wages owing to him in respect of his sea time until 8th May 1915; 24 hours after the liner had gone down.

It is known that William Sephton continued to serve as a cook in the Merchant Navy for many years after his ordeal; however, no details of his personal or professional life are known.

He died in Liverpool on the 5th March 1955, aged 60 years.

Register of Births, Marriages and Deaths, 1901 Census of England & Wales, 1911 Census of England & Wales, Cunard Records, PRO BT 350.

William Sephton



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