Encyclopedia Titanica

Ruth Harwood Bowker

Titanic Restaurant Cashier

Miss Ruth Harwood Bowker was born as Janet Harwood Bowker1  on High Street in Ware, Hertfordshire, England on 11 December 1880 and was later baptised on 4 September the following year in Thurnscoe, Yorkshire.

She was the daughter of Dr Edward Harwood Bowker (b. 1851) and Annie Sowersby (b. 1856). Her father was a medical practitioner originally from Chesterfield, Derbyshire who had schooled at the Royal College of Physicians in Edinburgh. He was married to his wife Annie, a native of Pickering, Yorkshire, in Thurnscoe, York in November 1876 and they had three children. Ruth's siblings were: Geoffrey Harwood (1880-1965) and Cuthbert Harwood (1882-1915).

Ruth first appears on the 1881 census as an infant, not yet four months old, living with her family on High Street in Ware where her father practised as a physician. When the 1891 census was conducted a ten-year-old Ruth was listed at the home of her uncle and aunt Thomas and Mary Pallister at 17 Thorne Road, Doncaster, Yorkshire; her parents and siblings were listed elsewhere at 18 Wallace Street in Gildersome near Leeds, Yorkshire. 

Ruth later became a bookkeeper and was shown functioning in this capacity when she appeared on the 1901 census, living and working at the Royal York Hotel in Margate, Kent. She appears on the 1911 census living as a lady's maid at 15 Pembroke Road, Bootle, Lancashire. Her mother and brother Geoffrey were listed as living at Station Pond in Little Sutton, Cheshire and her father at 34 Fairfield Road in Chesterfield, Derbyshire with his two unmarried sisters, Janet and Agnes.

Ruth's father died at his Chesterfield home on 5 April 1912 following a protracted illness. The next day, on 6 April, she signed-on for Titanic's maiden voyage and gave her home address as The Cottage, Little Sutton, Cheshire2 and her previous ship as the Olympic. She was one of only two females who worked in the à la carte restaurant, the other being Mabel Martin. Her father was buried in Chesterfield on 9 April and the next day Ruth joined Titanic

Miss Bowker and Miss Martin survived the sinking (probably both escaping in lifeboat 6), being among the few survivors from the restaurant staff. 


Chesterfield Lady Among the Survivors

Among the survivors of the awful disaster which occurred to the Titanic is Miss Ruth Bowker, a daughter of the late Dr Bowker of Chesterfield.

Miss Bowker, who was a cashier on the liner, was among the crowd of women who were picked up by the Carpathia. The first intimation received by her family was a terse marconigram message which was conveyed to her brother in Cheshire.

The welcome words "Safe--Ruth" allayed the anxiety of her relatives.

A later cablegram stated that Miss Bowker was coming to England on the Lapland, and she is expected at her home in Cheshire some time during this week. Miss Bowker was formerly a cashier on the Olympic. — Derbyshire Times, 27 April 1912

It is not certain if Ruth ever worked at sea again. Only a few years after the disaster her brother Cuthbert, who had been living in Canada, died on 8 March 1915. Her mother later died in London in 1940.

Ruth was never married and worked as a bookkeeper at the Wilton Hotel in Westminster, London for many years, appearing at that address on electoral registers up until 1947.

Suffering from various heart and circulatory ailments, Ruth Bowker died at 1 Luxborough Street, Marylebone, London on 23 May 1956 aged 75. She was buried on the 26th May 1956 in an unmarked public communal grave (section G19) in St Marylebone Cemetery, East Finchley, London. 

Her last surviving sibling, Geoffrey, died in Colchester, Essex in 1965.


  1. Ruth was born as Janet and is listed under this name up until the 1901 census when she was working in Kent. When she next appeared on the 1911 census she was going by the name of Ruth, for reasons unknown.
  2. Her London address was 2 Hans Road, Brompton Road.

Titanic Crew Summary

Name: Miss Ruth Harwood Bowker (Janet)
Age: 31 years 4 months and 4 days (Female)
Nationality: English
Marital Status: Single
Occupation: Cashier
Last Ship: Olympic
Embarked: Southampton on Saturday 6th April 1912
Rescued (boat 6)  
Disembarked Carpathia: New York City on Thursday 18th April 1912
Cause of Death:

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References and Sources

Derbyshire Courier, 13 April 1912 and 16 April 1912, Death of Dr Bowker
Derbyshire Times, 27 April 1912, Titanic Disaster, Chesterfield Lady Among the Survivors

Research Articles

Brian J. Ticehurst Titanica! (2005) Ritz Restaurant Staff on the Titanic
ON BOARD the Titanic was what must have been the finest Restaurant in the world.
(2015) Identifying Titanic stewardesses

Newspaper Articles

(18 May 1912) Miss Bowker's Account
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Comment and discuss

  1. Mike Royden

    Mike Royden said:

    Latest work, a full chapter on: Ruth Harwood Bowker - Titanic Survivor in 'Tales From The 'Pool - A Collection of Liverpool Stories', by Mike Royden, Creative Dreams Publishing (UK) (2017). More info here:

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