Alexander’s paternal grandparents were Alexander Stewart (1840–1897), a joiner, and Catherine Johnston (1845-1918).
The maternal grandparents were John Kennedy, born in Ireland about 1836, and a labourer, and his wife Elizabeth, born about 1840 in either Ireland or Edinburgh. In 1881 they lived at 32 Bunyan St, Ardwick, and John was a foundry labourer. In 1891 they lived at 9 Bunyan St. They had 3 children, Harry born in Meerkut, East India, about 1860, Thomas, also born in India about 1863 and Jane Elizabeth, Alexander’s mother. In 1881, Harry was a railway labourer. In 1891, Harry was a striker to a blacksmith and Thomas was an ironworks labourer.
John Stewart was born in Belfast about 1869 and died in 1928. Jane Kennedy was born in Manchester about 1874 and died on 9 April 1922. In 1891, at the age of 17, Jane was a brace maker. John and Jane married on 26 September 1894 at St Matthew’s church, Ardwick. John was a cotton goods salesman. In 1901 they lived at 9 Palmerston St, Moss Side, and in 1911 at 3 Matlock Avenue, West Didsbury. John and Jane later moved to 96 Lansdowne Rd, their address in 1914. They had 5 children, Dorothy (1896-1943), a clerk for a velvet manufacturer in 1911, Alexander, Harold (1900-1960), Robert (1909-1971) and Frank (1914-2001).
Alexander was born on 24 March 1897 and was baptised on 30 May 1897 at Holy Trinity church, Hulme. The family’s address was 1 Abbey Grove. He must have attended Cavendish Road Primary School as his name appears on their war memorial plaque. Alexander enlisted in the Royal Navy in April 1914 when he gave his date of birth as 24 November 1895, which would have made him 18 when in fact he was only 17. His service number was SS/4808. He served briefl y on two ships from 7 April to 30 July 1914. On 31 July 1914 he joined HMS Monmouth as an Ordinary Seaman. He died when the ship was sunk on 1 November 1914. He is commemorated at the Plymouth Naval Memorial, reference 2, in Devon.
HMS Monmouth and the Battle of Coronel
The armoured cruiser HMS Monmouth was built in Govan on the Clyde. She was launched in 1901 and completed in 1903. Completion was delayed by a collision with the liner Assyria in Glasgow harbour in March 1902. She was the lead ship of her class and served in the Channel Fleet and then at the China Station until 1913, when she returned home and was assigned to the reserve Third Fleet. At the start of the war she was recommissioned and assigned to the 5th Cruiser Squadron of Rear Admiral Archibald Stoddart on the Cape Verde-Canary Islands station. She was then detached and sent to the Brazilian coast to search for German light cruisers. She then went to the South Atlantic, joining Rear Admiral Christopher Cradock’s squadron to search for the German East Asia Squadron. After a fruitless search of the Tierra del Fuego area, Monmouth and two other ships were sent to search the Chilean coast. They encountered the Germans in the region of Coronel where Admiral Spee had his flagship, Scharnhorst. The German armoured cruiser Gneisenau shelled Monmouth and she later capsized and sank. The sea was too rough to attempt rescue and all 735 men were lost.