Mr Arthur Ernest Read Lewis

Arthur Ernest Read Lewis

Mr Arthur Ernest Read Lewis was born in Southampton, Hampshire, England on 24 May 1884. 

He was the son of Southampton-natives Thomas William Lewis (1862-1922) and Elizabeth Maria Read (1862-1947). His father was a brewer's clerk and had married Elizabeth Read in their native city in 1881.

One of ten children, his siblings were: Albert Henry (b. 1882), Percy (1887-1887), Victor Owen (b. 1888), Edward Leonard (b. 1891), Frederick Montague (b. 1893), Horace Augustus (b. 1896), Adelaide Dorothy (b. 1898), Grace Mabel (b. 1901) and Marjorie Winifred (b. 1905).

At the time of the 1891 census the Lewis family were living at an address in Bugle Street, Southampton. The family were at the same address by the time of the 1901 census except that Arthur and his elder brother were missing. 

Arthur reportedly went to sea aged 14 and served on a Hospital Ship during the Boer War. By 1908 he was a steward aboard the Augustine, then operating out of Liverpool. 

He was married in Southampton on 9 February 1902 to another native of that city, Violet Clara Kearslake (b. 12 June 1885). They went on to be the parents of five sons: Archibald Albert(1) (b. 1902), Stanley Claude(2) (b 1909), Leslie Arthur(3) (b. 1915), Leonard Edward(4) (b. 1920) and Thomas William(5) (b. 1922).

On the 1911 census Arthur and his family were shown living at 18 Frederick Street, Southampton and his profession was described as a hotel manager. 

When he signed-on to the Titanic on 4 April 1912 Lewis gave his address as 99 Ratcliffe Road, Southampton. His previous ship had been the Empress and as a third class steward he received monthly wages of £3, 15s.

Arthur Lewis survived the sinking, possibly escaping in lifeboat 15. He was not required to give evidence to either the American or British Inquiries into the sinking but was recompensed with expenses of £7, 18s with regards to his detention for the latter.

Following the Titanic disaster Arthur returned to sea but was working as a stevedore by November 1914 when he signed up at Aldershot for the war effort, joining the Army Service Corps and working in the Labour Corps. He was later awarded the Victory Medal for his services.

Signature

Arthur's signature from his 1914 military records

During peacetime Lewis returned to the sea and by 1920 worked as a steward aboard the Imperator, followed by a brief spell aboard the Aquitania. In 1921 he was a bathroom steward aboard the Berengaria, spending the next three years aboard that ship before transferring to the Homeric on which he was shown serving as a bathroom steward until at least 1930. He later returned to the Aquitania in the latter half of the 1930s and by 1940 was a steward aboard ther Antonia. On the 1939 UK register he and his wife were shown living at 82 Cambridge Road, Southampton and he was described as a bedroom steward. Records describe him as standing at 5' 10" and with brown hair and eyes and a medium complexion.

During WWII Arthur became a member of the National Fire Service on the Queen Mary when she was a troopship and later worked the Isle of Wight run for the Red Funnel Line. He retired at the age of 72 and in February 1972 he and his wife Violet celebrated their diamond wedding anniversary.

Frequently called upon to relate his Titanic experiences as interest in the topic grew, in the late 1960s or early 1970s Lewis appeared in a television documentary alongside fellow survivors Edith Rosenbaum and Gershon Cohen. In it he recalled that no-one spoke to each other in his lifeboat. 
Arthur Lewis died in Southampton aged 88 on 18 January 1973.  He is buried in South Stoneham Cemetery, Southampton (section R6, plot 227).  His widow Violet passed away on 5 July 1982.

Notes

  1. Archibald Albert: b. 1/7 July 1902; d. 1979 in Southampton.
  2. Stanley Claude: b. 18/19 December 1909; d. 1984 in Southampton.
  3. Leslie Arthur: b. 2 January 1915; d. 17 August 1995 in Southampton.
  4. Leonard Edward: b. 15 October 1920; d. 14 June 1990 in Southampton.
  5. Thomas William: b. 27 June 1922; d. 2001 in Southampton.
 

Pictures

Arthur Lewis
Southern Evening Echo  (1973) 
ARTHUR LEWIS
Arthur Lewis' Discharge Book
Arthur Ernest Read Lewis
ARTHUR ERNEST READ LEWIS
 

Articles and Stories

 

Videos

RMS Titanic: Survivor Stories and Original Footage
British Pathe 
 

Comment and discuss

  1. greg robertson said:

    In Titanic Voices there is a picture of Arthur Lewis and his wife on their 70TH wedding anniversary! Does anyone know when they were married? How long after the 70th did the marriage last? When did the couple pass on? Regards, Greg.

  2. Guest (R17) said:

    Dose anyone have any information about him or any scans of his signature ? For a survivor that lived so long it seems there is very little information about him. I also wonder if there are any pictures of him when he was a steward or during the Titanic period. I have a picture of him from Titanic voices but that is him as an old man. I looked on Titanica and there only seems to be a graining picture of him with a beard - unless I am mistaken. If there seem to be no period pictures of this survivor are there dose anyone know of a decent picture of a third class steward ? Thanks

  3. Bob Godfrey said:

    'Titanic Voices' has a photo of Sidney Sedunary in uniform on page 159. There's another group pic of 3rd Class stewards in uniform on the Olympic (including Sidney Daniels who survived Titanic) on page 142.

  4. Guest (R17) said:

    Thanks Bob, But other than Titanic voice's this survivor seems to have been forgotten. He must have gone to conventions and lived long enough to be quite a prize survivor rather than just a baby or very young girl at the time of the sinking. I wonder when he died and if he did go to Titanic conventions.

  5. Thomas Ozel said:

    Hello Greg According to another thread (which you can access via the weblink below) Arthur Lewis died in January 1973. I can't give you clear date for when they were married, but at the latest it would probably have been around the end of 1902 (however it could be earlier). On the BBC archive website, there is a 1984 radio programme about Titanic which features an interview with Violet Lewis, so she was presumably still alive in the early 1980s, but I don't know when she died. Sorry if this isn't much... Read full post

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Credits

Trevor Baxter, UK
Gavin Bell, UK
Chris Dohany, USA

References and Sources

Agreement and Account of Crew (PRO London, BT100/259)
Photo: National Archives (Courtesy of Gavin Bell)
Search archive British newspapers online

Link and cite this biography

Encyclopedia Titanica (2019) Arthur Ernest Read Lewis (ref: #1974, last updated: 23rd December 2019, accessed 11th July 2020 23:04:16 PM)
URL : https://www.encyclopedia-titanica.org/titanic-survivor/arthur-ernest-read-lewis.html