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.
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. His widow Violet passed away on 5 July 1982.