Mr Alfred George John Rush was born in Anerley, Surrey, England on 14 April 1895.1
He was the son of William Rush (b. 1850) and Phoebe Sophia Smith (1850-1927). His father, a railway carman, hailed from Thorington, Suffolk whilst his mother was native to Croydon, Surrey, and they married in All Saints and St Margaret Church, Upper Norwood, Surrey on 14 January 1875.
Alfred was the youngest of eight children and his siblings were: Rose (b. 5 December 1875-d. 1955, later Mrs George Spencer Simpkin), William (b. 1876), Thomas (b. 1879), Charles James (b. 19 June 1881-d. 1936), Lillian Annie (b. 19 July 1886-d. 1969, Mrs William Herbert Jeffery), Daisy May (b. 1888) and Arthur Samuel (b. 1890). His brother Arthur died in 1892 aged just 2.
Alfred first appears on the 1901 census when he and his family were living at 34 St Hugh's Road in Penge, Surrey. By the time of the 1911 census the family were living at 27 Palace Road, Norwood, Surrey where his father by now ran a boarding house. Alfred, aged 15, had left school and was working as a newsboy in a local shop.
Although being the last child living at home and being doted on by his parents, the economic hardships of the time pressed the family to consider migration for their youngest. Alfred's elder brother Charles had left Britain in 1904, settling in Detroit where he worked as a machinist in an automobile plant. He married in 1906 to fellow-Briton Eliza L. Nutcher (b. 1873) but the couple remained childless and by 1912 were residents of 24 Hobson Avenue, Detroit. Charles Rush appealed for his younger brother to come and join him.
To reach Detroit Alfred embarked the Titanic at Southampton on 10 April 1912 as a third class passenger (ticket number 20589, which cost £8, 1s); he would not be travelling alone and was to be chaperoned across the Atlantic by Frank Goldsmith and his family. Mrs Goldsmith and her parents were close friends of the Rush family:
"With them was Alfred Rush, whose brother, Charles Rush lives at No. 24 Hobson Avenue. The Brown and Rush families are warm friends. They had planned a big feast on the arrival of their loved ones, but they now fear that their joy will be turned to grief." - Detroit Times, 17 April 1912
Rush and the Goldsmiths were also acquainted with Thomas Theobald and became friendly with other British passengers during the crossing. Whilst aboard young Alfred celebrated his 17th birthday on Sunday 14 April.
On the night of the sinking Alfred Rush made it to the upper decks, keeping close to the Goldsmiths. Mrs Goldsmith and her son Frank left the ship in one of the later boats (either collapsible D or C) but Alfred and Mr Goldsmith had apparently been prevented getting close, as Mrs Goldsmith related:
"Frank and Alfred were close to the rail on the deck below as we were lowered past it, but we were all so dazed that we hardly said a word, just waved our hands. I thought then they would be able to get away on another boat or raft." - Bay City Tribune, 24 April 1912
The wait for news on both sides of the Atlantic was exasperating for family and friends. Alfred's sister-in-law Eliza Rush recalled her own brush with death when, three years earlier, she had been a passenger aboard the Empress of Ireland when in October 1909 that vessel stuck an iceberg:
HOW IT FEELS TO HIT ICEBERG
Mrs Charles Rush gives her experience while crossing the ocean
DETROIT, Mich., April 17--The experience of hitting an iceberg in mid-ocean while you are sound asleep in your berth is not a very pleasant one declares Mrs Charles Rush, who with her husband, are anxiously awaiting news of Alfred Rush, 16, her brother-in-law, who was a passenger on the Titanic.
"I was crossing on the Empress of Ireland in 1909 when we hit an iceberg during the night while a few days out of Montreal," continued Mrs Rush, telling of her experience. "We all rushed on deck in our night clothes."
"All was confusion. The women started praying and everyone was nearly frantic with fear. The officers finally calmed us and the men were set to work at the pumps while the women were locked below decks. Our wireless operator got in touch with other vessels soon after the accident and the other boats kept company with us while we limped into the nearest port."
"I can only hope that Alfred was regarded as a child when the lifeboats were filled," said Charles Rush today, while awaiting news from New York. "It will surely kill mother if he is lost. He was the only one left to her. We sent for him to come here as times were so hard in England and I thought he would have a better chance in this country." - New Castle News, 17 April 1912
The young boy that Charles Rush left behind in England was now a young man, his gender and class of travel further straightening his circumstances; Alfred Rush had died in the sinking and his body, if recovered, was never identified.
Charles Rush and his wife remained in Michigan; he died in St Clair on 24 February 1936 aged 55 following a stroke. His widow Eliza died in 1958 and they are both buried in Woodmere Cemetery in Detroit.