Able Seaman Alfred Dougherty was born on December 5th 1884 and baptised in the Church of St George, Douglas, Isle of Man on January 5th 1885. Much of his adult life was spent at sea; on fishing boats, passenger ships and military vessels. His parents were both born in The Isle of Man; his father William Graham Dougherty in 1843 and his mother Ann Russel in 1849.
Alfred had 10 siblings, four of whom died in infancy and one when he was just 21 years of age. In 1881 the family was living at 17 Lord Street, Onchan, Douglas, Isle of Man. Alfred’s father was a Mariner. In 1891 when the census was taken, Annie Dougherty was with six of her children at 11 King Street, Onchan, Douglas. Alfred was at school and his big brother Alma Graham was working as an Errand Boy in the port. His father may have been at sea.
Alfred’s father passed away in 1894, at Ramsey Bay, and his mother in 1899. In 1901 at census time Alfred was 16 years old and working as a fisherman on the “Comrade”, ship No. 148, in the Isle of Man Fishing Fleet, based at Peel port. At the same time his sister Sarah was head of the household at their family home, 8 James Street, Douglas. She was looking after her younger sisters, age 11 and 14, their mother having passed away two years before. His elder bother William was also living there, working as a Tailor.
The Liverpool crew lists show that Albert was Able Seaman on the Saxonia in 1902 (previously on the Finlaggan) His address was 48 Wilburn Street, Liverpool. In 1908 he was still an Able Seaman on the Saxonia, living at the same address. The RMS Saxonia was a passenger ship of the British Cunard Line. Between 1900 and 1925, Saxonia operated on North Atlantic and Mediterranean passenger routes.
On January 29th 1907 Alfred married Esther Eleanor Creer, in Douglas, Isle of Man. The couple had five daughters: Kathleen born 1907; Margaret born 1909; Esther (Essie) born 1910; Sarah Anne (Sally) born 1912 and Ethel Elizabeth born 1915.
Alfred was called up on August 2nd 1914, stationed at Devonport. On September 19th he joined The Royal Naval Division, Howe Battalion. The RND participated in the defence of the Belgian city of Antwerp September 28th – October 10th 1914. Formed from surplus naval men, the RND was a unique formation in World War 1 and fought alongside the Army. Alfred was discharged to the Royal Navy Barracks, Portsmouth on October 27th 1914. Shortly after this, after a brief period at home on leave, he was posted to the Laurentic.
Alfred’s body was never recovered.
The 1914 Star was issued to his widow Esther on February 24th 1920.
Alfred is remembered in the WW1 book of remembrance, Church of St George, Upper Church Street, Douglas, Isle of Man, Douglas Town Hall Roll of Honour (1914-1918) and Douglas Borough War Memorial, Harris Promenade, Douglas, Isle of Man.
Alfred’s descendants have also commemorated him on a family memorial in the graveyard at Braddan, Isle of Man.
In loving remembrance of
who lost his life through the sinking of H.M.S. LAURENTIC
in Lough Swilly, off the Irish Coast, Jan 25th 1917,aged 33 years. R.I.P.
“One of Gods best”
Memorial stone, Braddan Church graveyard, Isle of Man © David Goldsmith
The Jack Clegg Memorial Database of Royal Naval Division Casualties of The Great War compiled by Jack Marshall.
Crew lists. 387 CRE. Liverpool Record Office, Liverpool, England.
Census Returns of England and Wales, 1881, 1891, 1901, 1911. The National Archives of the UK.
familysearch.org – Isle of Man Parish Registers, 1598-2009
Photograph of Alfred Dougherty kindly contributed by Peter Threlfall, WW1 historian on behalf of the Dougherty family.
Gravestone photograph courtesy David Goldsmith.