James Chenoweth

Date of birth: 1888
Place of birth: Southampton
Regiment / Division: Royal Navy
Vessel: HMS Bulwark
Rank / Service No: Able Seaman, J/11117
Died: 26th November 1914, aged 26 years
Commemorated: Portsmouth Naval Memorial


Before the War 

James was born in 1888 to John Rogers (1855 – 1928) and Elizabeth Chenoweth (nee Ware 1859 – 1929 ). A birth record can be found for James for this year, but on his Navy records it showed 28th April 1886 so maybe he gave an incorrect date of birth. His parents were married in Southampton in 1882.


James’ siblings were:


Florence Elizabeth (1883 – 1968)


Ada (1885 – 1901)


Charles Ware (1887 – 1947) Shown as John on the census records. There is a birth record for Charles for 1887, but no birth records can be found for John Chenoweth. There are death records for both a Charles and a John, which have the same reference numbers.


Alice Maud (26/12/1890 – 1986)

Alice married John Ramsden (1881 – 1917) in Southampton in 1915. She married again in 1928 to Frederick Dabinett (1876 – 05/04/1950)


Mabel (1893 – 1893)


The 1891 census showed that James and his family were lodging at 28 Paget Street, St Mary’s Southampton, which was the address of Thomas and Jane Clarke. James’ father worked as a watchman in the shipyard.

When the 1901 census was taken the family had moved to 60 York Street, St Mary’s, Southampton and James’ father was now a merchant seaman.

On the 1911 census James’ parents, sister Alice and brother John were still living at 60 York Street. His father was in the same employment, Alice was a domestic servant and John was a labourer at an Oil Mill. James was serving in the Royal Navy and not recorded on this census. Florence was working as a domestic servant at 49 Murray Road, Wimbledon, London. Her employers were Henrique and Marian Cortes.



Military History


James joined the Royal Navy on 17th April 1905, service number SS 915. This number indicates that he joined as a Short Service Rating and he agreed to serve for 5 years.


He served as ordinary seaman on the following ships:


Victory I                        17th April to 17th July 1905

Magnificent                 18th July 1905 to 5th November 1906

Victory I                      6th November 1906 to 11th March 1907

Britannia                     12th March 1907 to 23rd February 1908


He was Able Seaman


Britannia                     24th February to 12th October 1908

Victory I                      13th October 1908 to 18th March 1909

Invincible                    19th March 1909 to 16th April 1910


Transferred to Continuous Service J11117


Invincible                    17th April 1910 to 27th March 1911

Excellent                     28th March to 30th September 1911

Victory I                      1st to 9th October 1911

Medina                        10th October 1911 to 15th February 1912

Victory                        16th February to 18th March 1912

Duke of Edinburgh            19th March 1912 to 2nd March 1914

Excellent                     3rd March to 12th June 1914

Bulwark                      13th June to 26th November 1914


James was killed by internal explosion of vessel off Sheerness HMS Bulwark. She was a ‘London’ class battleship and construction started in March 1899 and completed in 1902. After completing exercises in the North Sea, HMS Bulwark returned to Sheerness and was moored in Keyhole Reach.

On 26th November 1914 at 7.50am she was torn apart by an explosion and quickly sank. Only 14 men, of a complement of 750, were rescued. but five died as a result of their injuries at the Royal Navy Hospital at Chatham.


An inquest was held on the bodies of thirty men and the jury returned a verdict of ‘Accidental Death’.


The wreck lies in a restricted area, designated as a War Grave and marked by two buoys in the estuary of the River Medway.


James was awarded the 1914 Star. the Victory and British war medals. These were sent to his father.


He is remembered with honour on the Portsmouth Naval memorial, panel reference 2. This memorial is located on Southsea Common and commemorates approximately 10,000 sailors from The First World War.


Researcher: Jackie Chandler
Published: 28th October 2016


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