John Edward Simpson

Dr John Edward Simpson

(Daily Sketch 20 April 1912)

John Edward Simpson, 37, was born in 1875 at Belfast. His father was John Simpson, M.D., their family home was at 76 Pakenham Place, Belfast. Simpson, who had five sisters, studied at Royal University of Ireland, Royal Belfast Academical Institute and Queen's University Belfast. It was from the latter that he received his degree.

In 1905 he was married to Annie Edith Peters of Astley, Lancashire and lived at The Old Chestnuts, Tottenham Road, Hornsbury. The couple had a son, John Ralph (who died on 25 March 1961 in London).

John Edward Simpson had troubles with his health, so he decided to go to sea, when he realized that the sea climate would be better to him. He served for some years as medical officer with the Peninsula and Oriental Steamship Company and finally White Star Line. Before he signed-on the Titanic he was on the Olympic. He signed-on on 6 April 1912 as assistant surgeon to Dr O'Loughlin his monthly wages were 9. On board he was responsible for the second and third class passengers.

Simpson was a captain of the Royal Army Medical Corps. On 9 April 1912 he wrote a letter to his Regiment (1st Volunteer Battalion of the Duke of Cambridge's Own [Middlesex Regiment]), noting that he won't be able to carry out his duties for some time.


From Captn. J.E. Simpson R.A.M.C. T.

To The Adjutant 1st (F.S) Btn. Middx. Rgt.

I have the honour to request that I may be permitted to transfer to the unattached list of R.A.M.C. T. officers as owing to professional duties as Ship's Surgeon in the White Star Line + am prevented from carrying out all my duties in the R.A.M.C. T. for some time.

I have the honour to be Sir your obedient servant

J. Edward Simpson Captn.

On April 10th before the ship sailed Dr O'Loughlin and Simpson examined the crew muster sheets with Captain Maurice Harvey Clarke, the Board of Trade immigration officer, to ensure a healthy crew was aboard. Just one of the many formalities which had to be completed before the maiden voyage could begin.

Before arriving at Queenstown he wrote another letter to his mother, where he mentioned that money was stolen from his trunk.

Dear Mother

I travelled from Liverpool on Monday by the 12 o'c train + arrived on Ward at 10 p.m. feeling pretty tired. I am very well + am gradually getting settled in my new cabin which is larger than my last. This seems all the time as if it were the Olympic + I like it very much. I am a member of the Club now which is an advantage Be sure to let me know how (new page) father gets on with his club. I was glad to get away from Liverpool as usual + don't intend to go up for a month or two. I found my two trunks unlocked + 5 or 6 dollars stolen out of my pocket-book. I hope none of my stamps have been stolen. Did I have my old portmanteau when I borrowed the kit bag? I think not

With fondest love


After the collision, as the water reached C deck, Simpson stood with Dr O'Loughlin, Purser Herbert McElroy and Assistant Purser Reginald Barker. For a brief time they were joined by second officer Herbert Lightoller. The second officer was sweating from his work at the boats and Simpson joked 'Hello, Lights, are you warm?'.

During lowering of lifeboat 14 he gave 5th officer Harold Lowe an electric torch with the words: "Here is something that will be useful to you".

John Edward Simpson died in the sinking. His body, if recovered, was never identified.

Crew Particulars of Engagement

Stephen Cameron (1998) Titanic: Belfast's Own, Wolfhound Press Dublin, ISBN 0-86327-685-7
Mariner' Museum (1998) Titanic, fortune & fate:, Letters, Mementos, and Personal Effects From Those Who Sailed On The Lost Ship. Simon & Schuster, New York.

Hermann Sldner, Germany

Articles and Stories


Washington Herald  (1912) 


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