Alfred Nichols was born as Albert William Stanley Nichols in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia in 1864 and he grew up on Lord Howe Island. He was the son of Thomas George Charles Nichols, a mariner and his wife Mary. Alfred reportedly left home at an early age and went to sea.
When Alfred, nicknamed "Big Neck," arrived in Britain is not certain. He was married in St Cyprian's Church, Edge Hill, West Derby, Lancashire on 2 April 1893 to Jane Porter (b. 7 September 1870, daughter of George and Robina Porter), a native of Mauchline, Ayrshire, Scotland. At the time the couple were resident of 46 Verdi Street, Seaforth, Lancashire and Alfred described himself as a seaman. The couple went on to have three children: Grace (b. 1897), Thomas Alfred L. (1899-1975) and Jane "Jean" Agnes E. (1903-1991).
(Daily Sketch 18 April 1912)
Alfred would be absent at the time of the 1901 census, likely at sea, but his wife and first two children are listed as living at 66 Chelsea Road, Litherland, Lancashire. The family moved southward to Southampton, possibly around 1907 to correspond with the shift of the White Star Line's main terminal to that city from Liverpool. They appear on the 1911 census living at 37 Oakley Road, Shirley and Alfred is described as a mariner.
Alfred was on board the Titanic for her delivery trip from Belfast to Southampton. When he signed-on again, in Southampton, on 6 April 1912, he gave his address as St. Cloud, Oak Tree Road, (Southampton). His last ship had been the Olympic. As Boatswain he received monthly wages of £8, 10s.
After the collision Nichols led a team of six seamen to open some of the lower gangway doors to load lifeboats, since he and the seamen were never seen again what became of them remains a mystery.
Nichols body, if recovered, was never identified. The following death notice appeared in an unidentified newspaper:
NICHOLS--April 15th, 1912, on the s.s. Titanic, Alfred Nichols, the deeply beloved husband of Jane Porter, Mauchline, Ayrshire, Scotland. Deeply mourned by his sorrowing wife and children. Gone but a little time before us. Scotch (sic) and Australian papers please copy.
Alfred's widow and children were assisted financially by the Titanic Relief Fund. What became of Jane Nichols is not certain.
Gavin Bell, UK
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