Brook Holden Webb was born in Kirkdale, Liverpool, Lancashire, England on 30 March 1862. He was the son of William Brookholding Webb (1822-1864) and Margaret Holden (1824-1900). His father may have come from Herefordshire, but his exact background is uncertain. His mother Margaret was a native of Liverpool and had married William Webb in Liverpool in 1849. He had three known siblings: Maria (b. 1850), William Alfred (b. 1856) and Julia (b. 1859).
The year before Brook's birth his family were recorded on the 1861 census living at 66 Salop Street, Kirkdale, Liverpool. At the time of his baptism on 21 February 1864 in St Peter's Church, Liverpool, his father was described as a mariner. His father died only days later after suffering a heart attack whilst at sea.
(Daily Sketch 18 April 1912)
Brook first appears on the 1871 census whilst he and his family were living at 44 Salop Street. His mother had become a seamstress to support her family. Brook went to sea a few years later around 1875, seemingly working continuously for the White Star Line and by the time of the 1881 census he is listed as an unmarried steward on board S.S. Brittanic, then docked at Birkenhead. His mother was still listed at 44 Salop Street.
Brook was married in Liverpool on 4 October 1883 to Ada Alice Woods (b. 1863 in Liverpool, daughter of William and Catherine Frances Woods). The couple are known to have had four children: Brook Holding (1885-1961), Hamilton (1886-1973), Gladys (b. 1888) and Leslie (1890-1969).
The 1891 census shows Brook and his family living at 4 Millfield Road, Walton, Liverpool and he was described as a mariner. Brook was widowed within weeks after this census when his wife Ada died aged 28 during childbirth to a son named Albert Charles, who also passed away.
Brook continued to work at sea, leaving his children with helpful relatives or as boarders at different addresses. On the 1901 census he is absent, but his children are scattered around different addresses, his daughter, Gladys, for example a pupil at a school in Walton and his son Brook at 31 Salop Street, the home of his paternal aunt Julia Webb Davis and her family.
Brook was remarried in Liverpool in mid-1905 to Alicia Brennan (b. 1878 in Liverpool) and the couple had three children: Eileen (b. 1905), Alicia Margaret (1906-1982) and John Brook Holding (1910-1991). The family continued to live in Liverpool until around 1907 when they moved to Southampton, the White Star Line having relocated their main port to that city. The family were listed on the 1911 census living at 33 Hanley Road, Shirley and Brook was described as a ship's steward for the White Star Line.
Brook was on board the Titanic for her delivery trip from Belfast to Southampton. When he signed-on again, in Southampton, on 4 April 1912, he gave his address as 33 Hanley Road, (Southampton). His last ship had been the Olympic. As a first class steward he received monthly wages of £3 15s.
Webb died in the sinking. His body, if recovered, was never identified. His estate, worth only £10, was not settled until 1928 and was administered to his widow.
Brook's widow Alicia returned to Liverpool and was remarried in 1926 to Daniel John O'Brien, but what became of her thereafter is uncertain.
References and Sources
Agreement and Account of Crew (PRO London, BT100/259)
Particulars of Engagement (Belfast), Ulster Folk and Transport Museum (TRANS 2A/45 381)
Gavin Bell, UK
Articles and Stories
New York Times (1912)