William Stephen Faulkner was born in Oxton, Birkenhead, Cheshire, England on 31 March 1877. He was the son of Samuel Faulkner (1852-1931), an iron turner and a professional cricketer, and Harriett Elizabeth Jenkins (1858-1928). His father was a native of Birkenhead and his mother from Southampton and they had married in Liverpool in 1875. His cricketer father was later a steward of the Birkenhead Constitutional Club.
William was the eldest of ten children, two of whom died in infancy. His surviving siblings were: Henry Victor (b. 1879), Beatrice Helen (b. 1882), Harriet Maud (b. 1884), Charles Frederick (b. 1890), Florence Mary (b. 1892), Mildred Muriel (b. 1894) and Lester (b. 1896). His brother Charles would also go to sea and would be a member of the crew on board SS Republic in 1906 when that liner collided with the Italian steamer Florida and sank.
William first appears on the 1881 census whilst living with his grandparents William and Jane Faulkner at 24 Bright Street, Birkenhead. His parents and younger brother Henry were listed at an address in Oxton Village. The 1891 census has William and his family living at 24 Mornington Street. William, aged 14, had already left school and is working as an office boy. William later went to sea, working for the Pacific and Booth Lines before joining the White Star Line.
He was married in Birkenhead in 1899 to Sybil Isabel Beams (born circa 1870 in Ewell, Surrey, England) and they would have four children, three living past infancy: Frank Victor (1900-1983), Leonard Henry (1903-1976) and Eileen Marie (1906-1975).
The 1901 census shows that William is absent from home but his wife and first child are living at 76 Woodville Road, Birkenhead. He would be absent again from the 1911 census, his family then living at 16 Mounsey Road, Birkenhead.
When he signed on to the Titanic, on 4 April 1912, William gave his address as 16 Mounsey Road (Birkenhead). His previous ship had been the Celtic. As a first class bedroom steward he could expect to earn monthly wages of £3, 15.
On the night of the sinking William was assisting to fill and lower the aft starboard lifeboats. He was reportedly handed the infant Trevor Hudson Allison, a first class passenger, whilst the child's nanny Alice Catherine Cleaver was assisted in lifeboat 11. William, with a child in his arms, was permitted to follow suit. Following rescue by the Carpathia, and during the voyage to New York, Faulkner was reportedly the only person whom Alice Cleaver would let visit the orphaned child.
Faulkner returned to England and continued a career at sea into the 1920s. He settled in Liverpool and died there in 1949 aged 72 having been widowed in 1941.