Mr Edwy Arthur West was born in Perranzabuloe, Cornwall, England on 20 November 1875.
He was the son of Edwy Alfred West (1829-1915), a customs clerk, and Elizabeth Mary Wheeler (1845-1915), natives of Gloucestershire and Suffolk respectively. His father had spent many years living in Lewisham, Kent and this is where he was married to Edwy's mother in 1863. The couple went on to have seven children, losing one in infancy.
Edwy's siblings were: Frederick E. (b. 1860), Mary Elizabeth (b. 1864), William Edwy (b. 1866), Frank Alfred (b. 1867) Edgar Louis (b. 1873) and Herbert Martin (b. 1881).
The family seemingly moved around frequently and prior to his birth are known to have lived in Hampshire, Kent and Essex. Edwy first appears on the 1881 census when he and his family are residing at Point in Feock, Cornwall. When the family appear on the 1891 census they are residents of Kenwyn, Truro and Edwy, then aged 15, is still attending school. Edwy had struck out by himself by the time of the 1901 census and he was recorded as boarding at 76-86 Rings Road, Portsmouth and he was described as an unmarried house furnishers assistant.
He was married on 12 September 1905 to Ada Mary Worth (b. 1879), a native of Truro. The couple moved to Bristol and their daughter Constance Miriam was born there in 1907. They later settled in Bournemouth where Edwy worked for the department store JJ Allen as a shop floor walker. The family appeared on the 1911 census residing at Livadia, 79 Paisley Road, Stourwood, Bournemouth and Edwy was described as a carpet salesman. Their second daughter Barbara Joyce was born later that year.
Deciding to strike out for a new life in America decisions were made by the family to travel to Gainesville, Florida and begin a fruit culture business. They purchased ticket number 34651, which cost £27, 15s, and they embarked Titanic at Southampton on 10 April 1912 as second class passengers. Whilst aboard it appears they became acquainted with Clear Cameron and Nellie Wallcroft.
Mrs West later recalled the events of the night of the sinking:
'We were all asleep when the collision took place, but were only jolted in our berths - my husband and children not even being awakened, and it was only the hurrying of passengers outside the cabin that caused alarm. The steward bade us all get up and dress thoroughly with plenty of warm things. Arthur placed lifebelts upon the children and then carried them to the boat deck. I followed carrying my handbag. After seeing us safely into the lifeboat Arthur returned to the cabin for a thermos of hot milk, and, finding the lifeboat let down he reached it by means of a rope, gave the flask to me, and, with a farewell, returned to the deck of the ship.'
The paper Mining World said of Arthur West:
'It is impossible to write without emotion of the conduct of this heroic Cornishman who unquestionably might have saved his life had he chosen to take the place that, we suppose, was subsequently occupied by one of the women saved. Of such heroes the world is not worthy. Arthur West may be one of the least known of the Titanic heroes, but none will deny him the distinction of being one of the noblest'.
Arthur had served as a chorister for many of his young years in Truro Cathedral and to mark his passing a memorial to him was placed within the Cathedral by his wife and daughters who, after the tragedy, returned to live in Cornwall.
His wife Ada, who had been pregnant at the time of the disaster, gave birth to a daughter on 14 September 1914 and she was named Edwyna Joan. Ada never remarried and died in 1953.
Both his parents remained living in Cornwall and died only months apart, both in 1915.
His daughters' education up to the age of 12 was sponsored by the Worshipful Company of Drapers; Constance never married and died in 1963. Barbara was married twice and died in 2007 aged 96, she being the last-but-one living Titanic survivor.
His daughter Edwyna, a Titanic survivor in her own right, was married in 1941 to Clarence Patrick Erskine-Lindop (1920-2001); he later became Permanent Secretary for the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Local Government in the Bahamas and he was made an OBE (Officer of the Order of the British Empire) in 1977. The couple are also believed to have spent time living in Manhattan. Edwyna died in Plymouth in 1969.
Articles and Stories
West Briton and Cornwall Advertiser (1912)