Mr. Albert Jackson Byington


Michael Poirier Collection/National Archives

Albert Jackson Byington, 40, was born on 22 January 1875 in Elmira, New York, United States.  He immigrated to Brazil in 1895.  He was a successful electrical engineer and imported the first electric motor to Brazil.  On 4 July 1901 he married Pearl Ellis McIntyre.  Pearl was born on 3 December 1879 in Santa Barbara d’Oeste, São Paulo, Brazil.

Byington’s ticket for Lusitania‘s last voyage was 46092 and he was in cabin B-26. On the day of the disaster, 7 May 1915, Byington was waiting for the elevator with Frederick TootalLady Margaret Mackworth, and David Alfred Thomas when the torpedo hit.

Here is what Tootal says about he and Byington in his 1915 testimony:

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(Q):  What did you then do?
(A):  I was talking to a lady who was waiting for the lift when it happened, also to another gentleman [Byington] who was travelling with me, and we both took her by the arm and started going up the stairs, and we got on to the next deck, the “C” deck, on the portside.  We then went aft with her to the companionway leading up to the boat deck, where there was a big crowd, and they were taking women and children first, and we put her on to that.

Tootal and Byington entered lifeboat #17, but the seamen lost control and the boat spilled.  Both men survived.

Albert Byington’s survival in the Lusitania disaster was detailed in The New York Times, Monday, 10 May 1915, page 2, where he is mistakenly listed as a British subject. The following is his account:

“It looks to me,” he said, “as if the Lusitania officials imagined that she was too lucky to be torpedoed. Instead of running 15 or 18 knots an hour, she ought to have been pushed to the limit, as that, we all understood, was one means of safety upon which she depended.

“Another point which I think out to be emphasized in that the Germans showed utter disregard for life by not giving time for the passengers to get off.

“No ships of any kind were in sight for ten or fifteen miles. The Germans had it all their own way. They could easily have allowed the Lusitania’s passengers ample time to get into lifeboats and row away before shooting their torpedo. There was no opportunity for anything to happen to the submarine if she were delayed. It shows that they didn’t care a rap about the loss of life in their murderous work.”

Mr. Byington jumped into a lifeboat which was filled with so many passengers that the ropes broke. As the boat fell into the water it capsized, and hearly all in it were drowned. Mr. Byington, who had a life preserver, swam to another boat. This later capsized. Then he got into another boat and helped to row it ashore.

Byington died around 1953 in São Paulo.  His wife Pearl died 6 November 1963 in New York.

Related pages


Albert Byington at the Mixed Claims Commission


Contributors:
Michael Poirier
Zachary Schwarz
Judith Tavares
Hildo Thiel

References:
“Attack Liner’s Handling: Passengers Ask Why She Didn’t Change Course and Run at Top Speed.” New York Times. Monday, 10 May 1915. Web. 6 August 2011. <http://query.nytimes.com/mem/archive-free/pdf?res=9A05E1D9123FE233A25753C1A9639C946496D6CF>.

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