Robert Stanley Christian Cowan was born in Douglas, Isle of Man on 8 May 1886. He was the son of Manx-born William Cowan, a mariner, and the former Margaret Elizabeth Christian, a native of Liverpool.
He had two younger siblings, which included his sister Mona Margaret (1889-1961)1 and brother John William (1891-1891), who died as an infant.
His father died in December 1900 and at a young age Cowan was sent for training for a life at sea aboard the ship Indefatigable, appearing as a deck boy on the 1901 census in Rock Ferry.
In April 1912 Cowan was serving as an able-seaman aboard the eastward-bound voyage of the Carpathia when that ship rescued the survivors of the Titanic.
After the Titanic Cowan continued to serve with the merchant fleet and scaled the ranks to become a ship’s officer, later second officer and then chief officer and served aboard the Majestic for a number of years.
In 1914 Cowan married Norah Elizabeth Roberts (b. 23 November 1886 in Liverpool), with the couple raising a family together, with son John Stanley Edmund arriving in 1914 and daughter Norah Louise (later Mrs Walter Cunliffe) in 1918. He was widowed in 1930.
Robert Cowan died in Liverpool in 1970 at the age of 83.