Mr Aragõa Drummond Harrison1 was born in Surbiton, Surrey, England on 28 September 1871 2 and he was later baptised on 9 January 1876 in Twickenham. He was the son of William Thomas Hugh Harrison (1838-1889), a military officer, and Elizabeth Aberdeen, née Perryman (1837-1913), both natives of London. He had four known siblings: Hugh Drummond (1870-1940), Mildred Ciceley Drummond (1873-1876), Winifred Dorothea Amelia Drummond (1875-1951, later Mrs William Thomas Digby Scammell) and Marmaduke De Freytas Drummond (1877-1906).
Little is known about the family but Aragõa's father William Thomas Hugh Harrison was born in London (he would state his birthplace as Rome, Italy on the 1871 census) to an organ builder father from Winchester, Thomas William Harrison (b. 1808)2 and he seemingly grew up in London. As a member of the British Military stationed in Jersey he was first married in mid-1860 to Carolina Antonia Meneges d'Freitas Drummond Aragõa Dunn, who passed away in St Martin, Jersey on 12 March 1861.
His mother Elizabeth was born in London to Charles and Martha Perryman; her father was a tailor. She was first married in the early 1860s to Henry William Aberdeen of whom little is known but together they had a daughter, Alice Martha (later Mrs Samuel Mathiesen, d. 1918) who was born in St Leonard's-on-Sea, Sussex in 1863. Henry Aberdeen died sometime prior to 1870.
Month's prior to his birth Aragõa's family appear on the 1871 census as residents of Victoria Road, Kingston-on-Thames, Surrey; his parents were unmarried, despite having their child Hugh, and his mother's profession was stated as "Berlin Wool Repository" and his father's as a landowner.
There are no identifiable records that Aragõa's parents were ever married, at least not in the UK; his father later served as a publican in Brentford, Middlesex and died on 19 January 1889. The remaining family moved to Hampshire shortly after and by the 1891 census were residents of 28 Queen's Terrace, St Mary, Southampton where his mother ran a boarding house; his sister Winifred was shown on the same census as a private pupil at Laura Place in that city. Aragõa was not listed at either address and his whereabouts at the time are uncertain.
Aragõa was married in Southampton in the summer of 1896 to Annie Irving Ross (b. 21 March 1873 in Troqueer, Kirkcudbrightshire, Scotland) but they would have no children. He would later serve as a Lieutenant during the Boer War in the Royal Field Artillery.
On the 1901 census Aragõa is absent and on duty in South Africa but his wife is listed as living at 67 Ludlow Road, Sholing, Southampton. On the 1911 census Aragõa and his wife are listed as living at 131 Oakley Road, Shirley, Southampton and he is described as a sea steward. A freemason, he was inducted into Hampshire Lodge of Emulation on 25 June 1907 and was described as a ship's steward at the time.
When he signed-on to the Titanic on 4 April 1912, Harrison gave his address as 131 Oakley Road, Southampton. As a first-class steward he received monthly wages of £3, 15s and he had stated that his previous ship had been the Olympic.
On the night of the sinking Harrison, was assigned to lifeboat 15, he helped to pass women and children into that boat, as well as lifeboats 11 and 13 before leaving in lifeboat 9. Himself hesitant to leave the apparent safety of the Titanic, he recalled that many of the male passengers gathered nearby him seemed thankful that only the women had to endure the “inconvenience” of being put off in boats.
Harrison told of a lone first-class woman in his lifeboat, who endeavoured to help keep him warm; he later recalled that he never saw her again or learned of her identity but she was possibly Mrs Jacques Futrelle. Interviewed by the press following the sinking, Harrison’s account was published in the Daily Mirror on 30 April 1912.
I had been in attendance as waiter late that Sunday night in the first-class smoking room, where there were only about a dozen gentlemen, as cards are not allowed on Sunday, and I went off duty before the shipwreck.
The shock was so slight that I thought nothing serious would happen, and I went down to my quarters to have a smoke before turning in. It was nearly half an hour later that the second steward came long and sent me up to my boat, stating I belonged to boat 15.
I helped get the women into her, and when she had been lowered I continued get women and children into boats 13 and 11.
Mr Murdoch, first officer, was in charge of that section of the boat deck, and just as boat 9 was ready to be lowered he told me, as there were no more women to be seen, to get into the boat. “You can take an oar,” he said.
There were forty-three women in the boat and several men, and she was quite full. We rowed for ten minutes at a time, and then lay to. We went about 400 yards off, and picked up no swimmers afterwards.
One Frenchwoman, who had just lost her husband, cried and moaned all night, and the other women tried to pacify her. Nearly all the women had remembered their furs. They were all second-class passengers in boat 9, except one lady from first-class, who sat on a thwart opposite me. After I had been rowing she made me put my frozen and swollen hands, during each interval, inside her furs to get them warmer again. She also took a pair of kid gloves from her hands for me to wear, but, of course, I could not get them on, though she tried to force them over my swollen fingers.
I was wearing just my waiter’s evening-dress suit and white tie and this old overcoat, which I put over it when I got up to the boat deck. Most of the women in No. 9, which was in charge of the bosun’s mate, wore simply their skirts, cloaks and furs over the nightclothes.
My lifebelt over my overcoat kept my body fairly warm. Nobody died of cold in our boat. The women huddled together and prayed.
There was a crowd of people around the purser’s office taking out their jewellery for a long time after the boat struck. None of the pursers are saved. Several women in the boats had saved their jewellery and took it on board the Carpathia.
It was about 5 o’clock when it got light. Till then we had tried to follow a boat with a powerful light in her. I think it was Mr Lightoller’s. She went a long way off. We saw the Carpathia arrive before it was light.
There was ice all round us at a little distance, but I do not remember my oar ever striking a piece of ice.
Aragõa was not required to give evidence to either the American or British inquiries into the sinking and he returned to Britain and resumed his career at sea. He remained at sea for the rest of his life and served in the Merchant Marine during WWI, later serving aboard Adriatic and Olympic; by 1939 he and his wife were residing at 2, The Borough, Southampton and he was still described as a ship's steward by that point.
Aragõa Harrison remained living in Hampshire and died in Winchester on 3 August 1947 aged 75. He was buried in an unmarked grave at St. Marys Extra Cemetery, Southampton (section A2, plot 187). His widow Annie also spent her final days in Winchester and she died in 1972 aged 99.
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