ROWE, Joseph William

Petty Officer Joseph William Rowe
108569 Leading Boatman, Royal Navy

Joseph was born at Somercotes, Alfreton, Derbyshire on 8th April 1863 son of William Rowe a grocer born Alfreton and his wife Catherine (nee Severn) born in Ilkeston. In 1871 the family was living at Alfreton North Road, Somercotes. Joseph had brothers and sisters John, Ann, James, William and Hannah.

On the 12th May 1879 aged 16 years Joseph joined the Royal Navy as a boy class 2, training aboard HMS Impregnable. His first posting was aboard HMS Champion a fourth-class corvette and the 1881 census lists her as positioned on the night of Sunday 3rd April, 1881 at Elmina, Gold Coast, Ghana, West Africa. Just a few days later on the 8th April Joseph reached the age of 18, his naval service of 10 years became reckonable and he was promoted to Ordinary Seaman. His record describes him as 5’5″ tall with brown eyes and dark blue eyes.  He served aboard HMS Royal Adelaide & HMS Cambridge as well as many other vessels, including Britannia, Liffey and Triumph. In July 1889 he was promoted to Leading Seaman.

In 1890 Joseph married Elizabeth Jane Walters at Plymouth, Devon. On the night of the 1891 census Elizabeth was living at Charles, Plymouth with their baby son Charles who was then a year old. On 8th April 1891, on his 28th birthday, Joseph signed up for a further 10 years service and his rank was changed to Boatman, it seems with the Royal Naval Coastguard Service.  His description on his naval record was also changed at this point, he had grown by an inch to 5’6″ and now had grey eyes, auburn hair and was slightly freckled. It also noted he had a ring fastened on his 2nd finger left hand. In June 1891 he was posted to East Cowes on the Isle of Wight.  For the next 9 years he served in various coastal locations within the UK such as Totland, Cuckmere, Newhaven, Gosport and Warsash. It seems that his wife Elizabeth was able to join him and the birth places of their children give clues to their whereabouts during this period of service. Daughter Mabel was born in Plymouth, Edith at Alum Bay (IoW), Joseph Arthur at Totland Bay (IoW), William and Albert Henry at Newhaven.  In 1901 Joseph and his family were living at 4, Coastguards Houses, Gosport, Hants his occupation given as a boatman Coastguards, Royal Navy. In 1902 Joseph, having served 21 years service from age 18, was awarded a naval pension and in October 1903 he joined the Royal Fleet Reserve.  It is possible that he continued to work as a coastguard for several more years as  son Arthur was born at Warsash in 1906.

By 1909 Joseph and Elizabeth had moved to Somercotes and a daughter named Dorothy was born there. In 1911 they lived at Market Place, Somercotes and Joseph was employed as a commercial traveller selling beer and spirits as well as being a Naval pensioner. Sometime between 1911 and 1915 the family moved to Sedgwick Street, Jacksdale.

At the outbreak of WW1 Joseph had returned to shorebase Victory I and from 1914 to 1916 and served as part of the Berry Head, (Brixham, Devon) War Signal Batallion, guarding the coast and headland. He was demobolised in December 1917, aged 55 and awarded a war gratuity.  Joseph was a recipient of the British War Medal.

Three of Joseph’s sons served in WW1, Joseph Arthur, William and Albert Henry and are also listed on the Jacksdale War Memorial. Joseph died in 1941, aged 78 and his wife Elizabeth died in 1942, aged 74, both are buried at Westwood, St. Mary’s.