Mr John O'Connor 1 was born in Southampton, Hampshire, England on 22 December 1882 2.
He was the son of William O'Connor (1853-1918) and Ann Cushen (3) (b. 1860). His father, a dock labourer and stevedore, was Irish, hailing from Queenstown, Co Cork whilst his mother was English-born (4). They were married around 1878 and went on to have seven children, with five surviving infancy. John's known siblings were: Margaret Ann (b. 1881), Mary (b. 1884), James Michael (b. 1886) and Ellen Bridget (b. 1891).
In the year prior to John's birth his parents and elder sibling Margaret appeared on the 1881 census, then living at 1 Simnel Street, Southampton. John appeared with his family on the 1891 census, then living at 4 Brewhouse Court, St Michael, Southampton and they were still present there by the time of the 1901 census, although John was absent from the family home by that time and was listed elsewhere. He had joined the Royal Navy and that year's census shows him as a crewmember aboard the St Vincent, then docked in Portsmouth; when he left the Navy and joined the merchant service is not known. His mother had died sometime prior to 1901 and his father never remarried. John, his father and younger sister Ellen appear on the 1911 census living at 9 Tower Place, Bargate Street, Southampton and he is described as a fireman for the White Star Line.
John joined Titanic on 10 April 1912 and was taken on as a substitute for a crewman that did not sail with the ship. When he signed-on, on the same day, he gave his local address as 9 Tower Place, Southampton. His previous ship had been the Olympic and as a trimmer he received monthly wages of £5, 10s.
On the night of the sinking, John became one of several men who survived by standing atop the upturned collapsible B before being rescued by other lifeboats.
John later returned to England and continued his career at sea and is not believed to have ever married. He remained living in Southampton and died there in 1934 aged 50.
- Birth registered as Connor and appears under that name on census records.
- He would give misleading ages during the course of his life; when he signed on to Titanic he gave his age as 25 and his circa 1919 crewman's card gives his birthdate as 22 December 1884. His birth was registered in the first quarter of 1883. Census records also give misleading information about his age, however, but the 1891 census seems to confirm that he was born in 1882.
- Née Welsh? The 1891 census shows her mother, Ann Cushen, living with the family. As no definitive record for the younger Ann's birth can be traced this causes further difficulties. A marriage registered in Southampton in 1878 between a William Connor and an Ann Welsh could be the correct couple and it is possible that Ann's parents were never married, she therefore being officially named as Welsh and colloquially as Cushen.
- Birthplace unclear; early census records give her birthplace as London whilst the 1881 and 1891 census records give her birthplace as Hull, Yorkshire.
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