Engineer-lieutenant Hubert Augustus Sewell was Born in 1884, to Tom Wilson Sewell and Lavinia Quick Sewell (née Fox), of 34 Sandymount Drive, New Brighton. He was the second youngest of their eight children. His father, also an engineer, had been serving with the White Star Line since it had been formed and was for many years the Company’s Commodore Captain. Hubert was educated at the Liverpool Institute, and on leaving school served his apprenticeship with Messrs. Fawcett & Preston, of Liverpool. On completion of his apprenticeship, he entered the service of Messrs. Harland & Wolff, of Belfast, joining the White Star Line in 1906. He also became a member of the Liverpool Branch of The Marine Engineers Association.
Prior to the Laurentic being taken over by the Admiralty, Hubert had already completed two peace time voyages as the ship’s 3rd Engineer. When the Laurentic was taken over by the Admiralty, he was commissioned in the Royal Naval Reserve, and was given the rank of Engineer Lieutenant. In December 1916, he returned home from his second to last voyage, and married his fiancée, Miss Ethel Frecaut Burkinshaw, at St. James Church, New Brighton, Wirral. The couple moved to 9 Dudley Road, New Brighton. His new wife was to be widowed within seven weeks of them being married.
Hubert had been resting in the 1st Smoke Room with Engineer Sub lieutenant Heathcock and Lieutenant Pawley (both of whom survived the sinking), when H.M.S. Laurentic struck two mines. It is not known if he was killed by one of the two explosions, or if he died later on a lifeboat. His body was never recovered.
AN ENGINEER-LIEUTENANT LOST
Engineer-Lieutenant Hubert A. Sewell R.N.R., lost with the Laurentic, was for a number of years in the service of Messrs. Harland & Wolf Ltd, at Queens Island, from which he entered the White Star line in 1906.
Belfast Newsletter Thursday 1st February 1917
A LAURENTIC VICTIM.
NEWLY MARRIED NEW BRIGHTON OFFICER.
Engineer-lieutenant Hubert A. Sewell, who was the eldest and only surviving son of Mrs.Sewell, of 34, Sandymount-drive, New Brighton, and whose home was at 9 Dudley-road, New Brighton, is among those officially reported lost through the sinking of the White Star liner Laurentic.
Lieutenant Sewell, who was educated at the Liverpool Institute, was a son of the late Mr. T. Wilson Swell, who was with the White Star Line from its formation and was for many years the company’s commodore captain. He served his apprenticeship with Messrs. Fawcett and Preston, Liverpool, and then entered the service of Messrs. Harland and Wolff, Belfast, joining the White Star service in 1906. When the Laurentic was taken over by the Admiralty he was given his lieutenant’s commission in the Royal Naval Reserve.
It is a pathetic circumstance that Lieutenant Sewell’s marriage at St.James’ Church, New Brighton, took place only seven weeks ago. His bride widowed thus early, was Miss Ethel F. Burkinshaw, of a family well-known in the district. He was at home on the Sunday prior to the disaster.
Liverpool Echo 30th January 1917
Hubert Augustus Sewell is commemorated on the following local memorials:-
Wallasey Civic Memorial (Hospital)
Wallasey Civic Memorial (Roll of Honour)
Liverpool Institute School
The Plymouth Naval Memorial
The Marine Engineers Association war memorial plaque (now missing).
Census Returns of England and Wales 1891 and 1901: The National Archives of the UK.
General Records Office UK
British Newspaper Archive
British Commonwealth War Graves Registers, 1914-1918. London, England: Commonwealth War Graves Commission.
Principal Probate Registry. Calendar of the Grants of Probate and Letters of Administration made in the Probate Registries of the High Court of Justice in England.
We are grateful to Peter Threlfall, WW1 historian, who generously contributed biographical information on Hubert Sewell.