Miss Ruth Harwood Bowker was born as Janet Harwood Bowker 1 in Ware, Hertfordshire, England in January 1881 and was later baptised on 4 September that same year in Thurnscoe, Yorkshire.
She was the daughter of Dr Edward Harwood Bowker (b. 1851) and Annie Sowersby (b. 1856). Her father was a medical practitioner originally from Chesterfield, Derbyshire who had schooled at the Royal College of Physicians in Edinburgh. He was married to his wife Annie, a native of Pickering, Yorkshire, in Thurnscoe, York in November 1876 and they had three children. Ruth's siblings were: Geoffrey Harwood (1880-1965) and Cuthbert Harwood (1882-1915).
Ruth first appears on the 1881 census as an infant, not yet four months-old, living with her family on High Street in Ware. When the 1891 census was conducted a ten-year-old Ruth was listed at the home of her uncle and aunt Thomas and Mary Pallister at 17 Thorne Road, Doncaster, Yorkshire; her parents and siblings were listed elsewhere at 18 Wallace Street in Gildersome near Leeds, Yorkshire. She later became a bookkeeper and was shown functioning in this capacity when she appeared on the 1901 census, living and working at the Royal York Hotel in Margate, Kent. Ruth appears on the 1911 census living as a lady's maid at 15 Pembroke Road, Bootle, Lancashire. Her mother and brother Geoffrey were listed as living at Station Pond in Little Sutton, Cheshire and her father at 34 Fairfield Road in Chesterfield, Derbyshire with his two unmarried sisters, Janet and Agnes.
When she signed-on to the Titanic on 6 April, 1912, Ruth gave her home address as The Cottage, Little Sutton, Cheshire 2 and she had previously worked on the Olympic. As a member of the à la carte restaurant she was employed and therefore paid by Mr Gatti and was one of only two females who worked in the restaurant, the other being Mabel Martin.
Miss Bowker and Miss Martin survived the sinking, escaping in lifeboat 6, being among the few survivors from the restaurant staff. She later returned to England.
Hard on the heels of her experiences on Titanic came the death of her father within weeks aged 66 and her brother Cuthbert, who had been living in Canada, died on 8 March 1915. Her mother later died in London in 1940.
Ruth was never married and worked as a bookkeeper at the Wilton Hotel in Westminster, London for many years, appearing at that address on electoral registers up until 1947. She died in 1956 aged 75.
Her last surviving sibling, Geoffrey, died in Colchester, Essex in 1965.
- Ruth was born as Janet and is listed under this name up until the 1901 census when she was working in Kent. When she next appeared on the 1911 census she was going by the name of Ruth, for reasons unknown.
- Her London address was 2 Hans Road, Brompton Road.
Gavin Bell, UK
Bill Wormstedt, USA
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