Mr Ednser Edward Wheelton was born in Walton, Liverpool, Lancashire, England on 31 March 1884 (1).
Ednser was the son of William Thomas Wheelton (b. 1853), a mariner, and Sarah Capper (b. 1852) who both hailed from Cheshire and who had married in Lancashire in 1882, producing three children: John (b. 1879) (2), William Thomas (b. 1887) and Ednser.
Ednser first appears on the 1891 census of England; at the time he and his family were living at 9 Inman Road, Litherland, Lancashire. He was still at home at the time of the 1901 census, aged 17 and unmarried but with an unspecified profession and living at 39 Mount Pleasant, Waterloo, Liverpool. The seafaring family may have relocated to Southampton around 1907 to coincide with the move of White Star Line from Liverpool to that port and Ednser shows up on the 1911 census living at Norwood House, Bellemoor Road, Shirley, Southampton with his family and he is described as a seafaring steward.
When he signed-on to the Titanic, on 4 April 1912, Ednser gave his address as Norwood House, Bellemoor Road, (Southampton). His last ship was the Olympic. As a first class steward he received monthly wages of £3, 15s.
At the time of the collision, Ednser was asleep and thought the ship had dropped a propeller. He was just about to go back to sleep when he heard someone shouting, "Water-tight doors!" and he was then ordered to fit his lifebelt and go to his boat station. After pulling his trousers over his pyjamas and donning an overcoat and slippers, he went to lifeboat 5 (7?), which he assisted in filling with passengers. He was then ordered to the B deck storeroom to get supplies. On his way, he saw Thomas Andrews opening doors to cabins, looking for passengers. Retrieving a box of biscuits, Wheelton returned to the Boat Deck to find boat 5 (7?) gone. He then assisted at boat 7 (5?). One incident he recalled was Bruce Ismay helping women and children into the boats and trying to regulate the lowering of the lifeboats. He was so intense in these actions that Fifth Officer Lowe snapped at him. According to Wheelton, "Mr Lowe told Mr Ismay to get the Hell out of it because I was the steward who stood in back of Mr Ismay."
After working boat 7 and boat 9, First Officer Murdoch sent Wheelton down to A deck to No. 11, which was by this time hanging on the davits. He got into the boat as Murdoch, standing on the rail on the top deck, called down, "Women and children first!" Shortly after that, Wheelton testified that "I shouted to Mr Murdoch 'The boat is full, sir'. He said 'All right. Have you got your sailors in?' I said 'No, sir'. He told two sailors to jump in the boat." After being lowered into the water, they rowed about 300 yards off. "We pulled toward a light but we didn't seem to get any closer to it. A lady back of me complained of the cold and I took my coat off and gave it to her."
Wheelton later reported there had been no boat drills on the Sunday. At the finish of his testimony at the U S Senate Hearings, he added: "I would like to say something about the bravery exhibited by the First Officer, Mr Murdoch. He was perfectly cool and very calm."
Ednser continued to work at sea into the 1920s and beyond and remained in Southampton, losing his mother in 1921 and his father in 1927. He later retired and settled in Lichfield, Staffordshire, apparently having never married. He died on 1 May 1949 aged 65.
- He later gave his birth date as 31 March 1883
- Born as John Capper in Congleton, Cheshire in third quarter of 1879
References and Sources
Agreement and Account of Crew (PRO London, BT100/259)
United States Senate, Washington 1912. n° 806, Crew List
United States Senate (62nd Congress), Subcommittee Hearings of the Committee on Commerce, Titanic Disaster, Washington 1912
Articles and Stories