Samuel James Rule was born in Hayle 1, Cornwall, England in early 1854 and his birth was registered on the first quarter of that year. He was the son of Richard Rule (1806-1884), a master mariner, and Mary Phillips (1816-?). His father was Cornish and his mother Welsh, a native of Pembrokeshire.
Samuel had nine known siblings: Elizabeth (b. 1838), Richard (b. 1841), John (b. 1843), Henry (b. 1845), William (b. 1847), Charles (b. 1849), Davey Edwards (b. 1850), Mary Jane (b. 1853) and Frederick (b. 1859).
Samuel first appears on the 1861 census whilst living at Clifton Terrace, Phillack, Cornwall but was absent from the 1871 census whilst his family were at the same address. With the family still at the Clifton Terrace address on the 1881 census, Samuel was now listed as a ship's steward, having went to sea aged 14.
Samuel was married in St George's Church, Everton, Liverpool on 5 November 1884 to Catherine Mary Sale (b. 1857 in Liverpool) and they went on to have four children: Winifred (1887-1966), Nellie (b. 1890), Samuel Charles (1892-1918) and Alice Mary (1896-1978).
On the 1891 census Samuel, his wife and first two children are listed as living with his wife's mother and stepfather, Mr and Mrs William French, at an address in Walton, Liverpool and he was described as a ship's steward. His family are living at 14 Esmond Street, Walton at the time of the 1901 census but Samuel is absent, most likely at sea. At the time of the 1911 census Samuel and his wife were listed as visitors at 81 Atherley Road, Shirley, Southampton
When he signed-on to the Titanic, on 6 April 1912, Samuel gave his address as 81 Atherley Road, (Southampton). His last ship had been the Olympic. As a first class bathroom steward he received monthly wages of £3 15s.
On the night of the sinking, Samuel was rescued in aft starboard lifeboat 15. He later recounted:
'I was asleep when the cessation of the engines woke me'... 'The shock was so great, and I heard no crash, but the engines were going full speed astern, and I knew something was wrong. I got up and went upstairs, but as there was no commotion I went back and dressed. A few minutes later a messenger came down and said we all had to leave our cabins, that all had to be served with lifebelts, and the cabins were to be locked. I assisted in getting up some provisions and when I got on deck I saw they were preparing to lower the boats. Though placed on the boat deck, the provisions were never used. Mr Murdoch was in charge of my side of the ship - the starboard - and he directed the getting away of the boats without confusion. I helped to lower the boats - all the odd numbers were on my side - and I was told to get into No. 15 as one of the crew.
St Ives Times, 3 May 1912
Samuel Rule was brought back to England with other crew members on board SS Lapland, which docked at Plymouth on 29 April 1912. After a night's enforced stay by the Board of Trade he was released the following day at 1.30pm. He returned to Southampton on the 6pm train from Plymouth. Rule was a witness at the British Inquiry and was called on the sixth day, 10 May 1912, to answer 302 questions.
How long Samuel stayed at sea is not certain. He later lived at 34 Valley Road, Anfield, Liverpool and allegedly suffered mental illness in his few years after the disaster. He died on 15 April 1915, the third anniversary of the sinking. His wife died in Liverpool in 1945 aged 88.
The 1861 census gives his birthplace as Phillack, Cornwall.
References and Sources
British Census 1881
United States Senate, Washington 1912. n° 806, Crew List
Wreck Commissioners' Court, Proceedings before the Right Hon. Lord Mersey on a Formal Investigation Ordered by the Board of Trade into the Loss of the S.S. Titanic
Gavin Bell, UK
Steve Coombes, UK
Chris Dohany, USA
Brian Ticehurst, UK
Bill Wormstedt, USA
Articles and Stories
St Ives Times
Hayle Weekly Mail (1912)