Some years before the event that was to make him a hero, the not-yet-captain Arthur Rostron was exercising his sea legs as fourth officer in service of the RMS Umbria, another Cunard Line transatlantic passenger steamship. Around this time (sometime between 1900 and 1905), the Umbria was running round trip service between Liverpool and New York. Also aboard one of these voyages was Edward Bringhurst (1884-1939), only son of Edward Bringhurst, Jr., and Anna James Webb Bringhurst, who owned and lived at Rockwood, the Wilmington Victorian Gothic-Revival estate built by Quaker and successful banker Joseph Shipley, Jr. The Bringhurst family made frequent trips to Europe, often visiting their eldest daughter (Elizabeth “Bessie” Shipley Bringhurst Galt Smith) who lived in the North of Ireland.
Young Edward, approaching twenty, was an avid and accomplished amateur photographer who took thousands of photos during his lifetime. He took these candid photos of Arthur Rostron aboard the Umbria on one such transatlantic voyage. The photos are serendipitous (no other officers were photographed) and indicate a chance meeting of the young Delaware photographer with the future British captain and hero.Edward Bringhurst also took at least one transatlantic voyage on the RMS Lusitania in 1911, four years before the steamship was tragically torpedoed and sunk by Germany in World War I. In that earlier time, Bringhurst took a series of photos topside aboard the Lusitania, capturing various images above decks. [Captain Rostron also had Lusitania connections as a Cunard Line serviceman: He was made first officer of the ship in 1907 but was transferred (and promoted to captain) of another ship, the Bresica, the day before Lusitania’s maiden voyage.]
The Bringhurst family photographs, including additional images of the Lustiania, Umbria, and other steamships, can be accessed via the digital collection.
The finding aid for the Shipley–Bringhurst–Hargraves family papers also contains further information on photographer Edward Bringhurst and his prominent Delaware family.