William Albert Watson was born in Islington, London, England in mid-1897 and his birth was registered in Islington in the September quarter of that year. He was the son of Henry "Harry" John James Watson (b. 1869) and Mary Agnes Hayes (b. 1872). His parents were both native to London and had married in Islington in 1889. They had five children: Ada Ethel (b. 1890), Mary Agnes (b. 1892), Harry William (b. 1894) and Horace (b. 1899).
William first appears on the 1901 census as a visitor with his father and sister Ada at the home of his paternal grandparents William and Eliza Watson who lived at 36 Balmoral Road, Willesden, Middlesex. William's mother appears to have died sometime around 1901 although his father is listed as married on the census. His father is described as a sanitary inspector and following the death of his mother he was remarried in 1905 to Muriel Annie Lambourne (b. 1884 in London) and they went on to have a child, Vera Muriel, in 1906. By the time of the 1911 census William and his family are residing at 23 Oakley Road, Southgate Road, Canonbury, Islington, his father still being described as a sanitary inspector and William himself as a schoolboy. He perhaps left school in the summer of 1911 and went to work at sea.
When he signed-on to the Titanic, on 4 April 1912, he gave his address as 23 Oakley Road, Islington. His last ship had been the Olympic. As a bell boy he received monthly wages of £2. He was one of two 14-year-olds working on the Titanic, the other being plate steward Alfred Hopkins, and therefore was one of the youngest members of the crew.
Quartermaster Sydney Humphreys reported that during the sinking the bellboys were herded to their regular posts in the main cabin entry and taken in charge by a leading steward and ordered to remain there so as they did not get in the way. Humphreys said that the boys waited patiently around before they were released and later saw them smoking and joking with passengers.
William Watson died in the sinking. His body, if recovered, was never identified.
William's father and stepmother had another child in 1917, a daughter named Edna. They relocated to Dartford, Kent and his father passed away there in 1942, followed by his stepmother Muriel in 1952.
References and Sources
Agreement and Account of Crew (PRO London, BT100/259)
Chicago Inter Ocean, Sunday, April 21, 1912, p. 4, c. 3
Gavin Bell, UK