Mr Algernon Henry Barkworth 1 was born in Tranby House in Hessle, Sculcoates, Yorkshire, England on 4 June 1864.2
He was the son of Henry Barkworth (1822-1898) and Catherine Hester Smith (1838-1915). His father, a timber merchant, farmer and landowner, was born in Yorkshire whilst his mother was born in Kannur (Cannanore), Kerala, India to British parents, her father a civil servant. They were married in Yorkshire in 1858 and went on to have four children: Edmund (1859-1931), Evelyn (b. 1860), Violet Hester (1866-1956, later Mrs Harold Robinson Pease) and Algernon. The family were wealthy and Algernon grew up surrounded by an entourage of servants and was raised by his governess Amelia Selina Coxhead (1844-1920), an Essex native. The Barkworth family had been established in Hessle since the 18th century and Tranby House had been built in the very early 1800s by Algernon's great-grandfather, John Barkworth, a merchant.
Algernon first appears on the 1871 census living in Tranby House but would be absent from the following census in 1881 when he was perhaps at boarding school. By the time he reappeared on census in 1891 he was back at the family home but with no stated profession. His father died on 13 January 1898, leaving at estate valued at £151,592, 2s, 5d.
Algernon briefly left Yorkshire and settled in Puddletrenthide, a village in Dorset and he appears there on the 1901 census, still listed as living on his own means. His next door neighbour was his brother Edmund and his family who had followed in his father's footsteps and who had become a farmer and landowner.3 By the time of the 1911 census Algernon was back with his aged mother and unmarried sister Evelyn and Tranby House and he was described as a Justice of the Peace for the East Riding of Yorkshire, a position he had held since 1903.
Barkworth boarded the Titanic at Southampton as a first class passenger (ticket number 27042 which cost £30) and he occupied cabin A23. Although a seasoned world traveller, this voyage was Barkworth's first trip to the USA where he intended to spend a month. He spent much of his time aboard with Charles Cresson Jones who he seems to have known previously, and his new acquaintance Arthur Gee.
On the night of the sinking the three men sat deeply engrossed in a debate about good road-building, a subject in which Barkworth was keenly interested. It was growing late, however, and he began to think about retiring. Someone said that the ship's clock would be set back at midnight, so Barkworth decided to stay up until then in order to set his watch.
Barkworth recalled that some time before the ship sank he had went below to retrieve some items from his cabin and the musicians were playing a waltz. By the time he returned they had gone. As the ship sank deeper he pulled a heavy fur coat over his lifebelt, threw his briefcase into the water and stepped in after them. He found the coat and belt buoyed him and he eventually made his way to the overturned collapsible B but someone warned him that if he came aboard he would swamp the boat. Eventually, however, he was able to drag himself aboard the boat.
Following the disaster Barkworth spent time at the home of a Mrs Richard F. Wood of Main Street, Concord, Massachusetts. Not wishing to continue his month-long stay in America due to the strain he had encountered during the disaster, he later returned to England. He had sent a telegram to his anxious mother, then staying in Scarborough, telling her that he was safe.
Algernon lived in Tranby House for the rest of his life and was never married, some family indicating that he was not of that persuasion. He was a member of the East Riding Bench for 35-years until just one year before his death and was at one point a member of the East Riding County Council. He was held in high esteem in his local community. A reported eccentric with a love of animals, he was also an avid collector of curios.
His mother died on 29 August 1915 and he continued to live with his sister Evelyn until her death 29 April 1933. Algernon himself was later plagued with chronic respiratory problems and he died on 7 January 1945 aged 80. He was buried with his sister Evelyn in Mill Lane Cemetery, Kirk Ella, Yorkshire.
His home Tranby House later became a school, Hessle High School, and is now a listed building.
John Elverson, UK
- Many sources give his full name as Algernon Henry Wilson Barkworth. His birth and death records and other documentation cite the name as only Algernon Henry Barkworth.
- Birthdate often cited as 9 March 1864. His birth was registered in the last quarter of 1864 making the March date unlikely.
- An article shows that Barkworth and Jones were probably acquanted before sailing on the Titanic.