Memorial to a well-travelled man who lost his life in the Titanic disaster
Alfred G Rowe was born in Peru, one of John James and Agnes Rowe’s seven children. His father was a successful merchant involved in trading and shipping between Liverpool and Chile. Alfred was brought up in England, but had certainly inherited his family’s wanderlust. After two years in the family business and education at the Royal Agricultural College in Gloucestershire, he moved to Donley County, Texas and with the princely sum of £500, started a ranch with two of his brothers, Vincent and Bernard.
As a rancher, Alfred flourished and got on well with the cowboys he employed, who thought him an honest man of high business principles. He also contributed greatly to the Texas community he lived in and even chose to become a US citizen while living there. In 1901, he married Constance Ethel Kingsley (a cousin of the priest and novelist Charles Kingsley who wrote The Water Babies) and by 1910, the family had moved back to England. However, Alfred returned to Texas to visit his ranch a couple of times a year.
For his last trip, he booked passage in first class accommodation on the brand new passenger liner, the Titanic, embarking at Southampton on Wednesday, 10 April. But he wasn’t impressed with the mighty ship – four days into the journey, he wrote to his wife, saying the ship was “too big” and “a positive danger” after a near-miss with the SS New York. The letter was posted in Queenstown, Ireland, the last port of call before it set off for New York, and only reached his poor wife after news of his death.
Accounts report that when the Titanic began to sink, Alfred refused a place in a life raft, declaring himself a strong swimmer. He made it as far as a floating hunk of ice, but died of hypothermia before his body could be recovered by the cable ship, the Mackay-Bennett. He was buried at Smithdown Road Cemetery on Tuesday 14 May, 1912 and an impressive family memorial marks the spot. His heartbroken wife gave birth to their fourth surviving child five months later and named him after his father. She eventually sold the Texas ranch to one of his hired cowboys, whose heirs still own parcels of the original land today.
Louise McTigue is a freelance writer and researcher, writing on behalf of Sarsfield Memorials.