Mr John Simmons was born in Leigh, Kent, England in early 1872, later being baptised on 10 March that same year.
He was the son of George Simmons (b. 1835 in Kent) and Mary Ann Evans (b. 1833 in Surrey) who had married in 1857. One of eight children, his siblings were: Emily (b. 1858), Alice Ann (b. 1859), Eliza (b. 1862), Florence (b. 1863), Mary Ann (b. 1866), Joseph (b. 1869) and Fanny Olive (b. 1878).
John first appears on the 1881 census when he and his family were living at an unspecified address in Leigh, Kent and his father was described as a cricket ball maker, the family later showing up on the 1891 through 1911 census returns living at The Green in Leigh. John would follow his father into the cricket ball making trade, working for Messrs Duke & Son of Penshurst, Kent and he would be described as an unmarried cricket ball maker on the 1911 census.
Simmons boarded the Titanic in Southampton on 10 April 1912 as a third class passenger (ticket number 392082, which cost £8, 1s), describing himself as an unmarried general labourer. His exact destination is not known and he was lost in the sinking, his body not among the recovered. An unidentified contemporary newspaper gives some clues, accurate or otherwise:
...Mr John Simmons from the village of Leigh, near Tonbridge was also on the Titanic. Formerly a cricket ball maker with Messrs Duke and Son of Penshurst, Mr Simmons was making his way to America with Mrs Helen Toomey from Tonbridge who had secured a new position with the Bishop of Indianapolis...
Ellen Toomey was a passenger on Titanic and was of Irish origin but she was indeed bound for Indianapolis, albeit travelling in second class. The link between Simmons and Toomey has not been established.
Both his parents continued to live in Leigh; his father died in 1920 and his mother the following year. They are buried in Leigh Churchyard and John is remembered on their headstone:
In Loving Memory Of
Died 31st October 1920 Aged 87
Mary Ann Simmons
Died 7th March 1921 Aged 88
Jack, Son of the above
Drowned on the Titanic
Gavin Bell, UK
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