Numerous stories are told of people who were booked on the Titanic but, for one reason or other, failed to travel on her. Some are true, the vast majority are probably untrue. Quite a few of these claims probably relate to passengers who had trips cancelled on other ships because of the coal strike in 1912, but because the Titanic was not full when she sailed most of these claims can be discounted.
Reverend J. Stuart Holden
The Reverend J.Stuart Holden, rector of St. Paul's Church, Portman Square, London, was booked on the Titanic to sail from Southampton of 10 April 1912 , he is mentioned on the Herbert Cave Passenger List and would have occupued cabin D-11. Unfortunately for her, but perhaps fortunately for him, his wife fell ill before his departure and Rev. Holden cancelled his trip. His boarding card recently came to light in Liverpool.
George Washington Vanderbilt
Mr George Washington Vanderbilt (1862-1914), grandson of shipping and railroad magnate Cornelius Vanderbilt, and creator of Biltmore Estate in Asheville, NC booked to occupy a first-class cabin. However, they changed their minds at the last minute and sailed on the Olympic, but sent most of their baggage along with his personal valet Fred Wheeler, who boarded the Titanic as a second-class passenger at Southhampton. Wheeler perished in the disaster.
It is not clear why the Vanderbilts changed their minds about sailing on the Titanic. According to a New York Times article dated April 30, 1912, they did so at the urging of Edith's mother (Susan Dresser), but since she had died in 1883, this cannot be correct. It is possible that the Times confused Edith's mother Susan with Edith's sister who bore the same name, but there is no way of knowing for sure. The Biltmore Estate Archives contains a letter from George Vanderbilt's niece, Adele Sloane Burden, expressing her relief in learning that her aunt and uncle had changed their minds and were safe. Early newspaper reports had placed Vanderbilt among the missing passengers.
New York Times, April 30, 1912
Sue Clark, USA (Research Assistant, Biltmore House, Asheville, NC)
Seaman: Sam Parks
Mr Sam Parks is not listed in either the US Senate's crew list, or the White Star crew list. In Walter Lord's A Night to Remember, he is mentioned as helping Storekeeper Jack Foley in finding an axe, to chop down a sounding spar which was preventing Lifeboat 4 from being lowered.
Walter Lord (1976) A Night to Remember. London, Penguin. ISBN 0 14 004757 3
Bill Wormstedt, USA
Third Class Irish Passengers
The following have been occassionally listed as passengers but their names do not appear on the passenger list.
Concannon, Mary [? Canavan, Miss Mary]
Flynn, Master Patrick
Noel Ray, Eire
Seaman: ? McAuliffe
In Walter Lord's A Night to Remember McAuliffe throws a razor blade to Saloon Steward James Johnson so that he could cut the falls to lifeboat 2 as it cast off at 1:45. As he did so he called out 'Remember me at Southampton and give it back to me!'. Despite his apparent confidence of rescue McAuliffe was lost in the sinking. McAuliffe is not listed in the sign-on sheets and his identity remains a mystery.
Chief Night Baker: Walter Belford
Walter Belford is not listed and there was no position of chief night baker on the Titanic, he could have been cook William Barnet Bedford. However a Walter Belford from Itchen, Hampshire is mentioned by Walter Lord. He claimed to have been in the galley on D-Deck when the iceberg was struck, he knew all about it because the impact caused the tray of rolls he was preparing to fall off the oven and clatter to the floor. Belford stayed aboard the rapidly sinking ship until almost the last minute but he eventually decided to jump for it and leapt as far away from the ship as possible, he would later remark to Walter Lord how he could still feel the stabbing cold as he entered the water even forty years later.
Mr Jay Yates, an American, wrote the following note, which was later delivered to a New York Newspaper:
"If I am saved, inform my sister F. J. Adams of Findley Ohio, Lost. J. H. ROGERS.''
In fact Yates was never on board the Titanic and the note was a hoax. Yates wrote the note in New York and then had a woman accomplice pose as a survivor and deliver the note to the newspaper. Yates did this in order to make the police think he was dead. They didn't fall for the ruse, though, and Yates was captured a couple of months after the sinking. (He was wanted on federal charges connected with postal thefts.)
George Behe, USA
Jens B. Andersen
Jens B. Andersen was a Danish man who claimed to have worked as a fireman and was rescued. There is no information in the crewlist about him although there is reference to an able-bodied seaman J. Anderson.
Lolland Falster Folketinge, May 1 1912
Klaus Egvang, Denmark
Mr John Beattie Butler
The death of Mr. John Beattie Butler was reported in an Australian paper: The Advertiser (the south Australian daily paper), 29th December 1970, in an article entitled 'they sang as their ship sank', he was reported as the last surviving Australian crewmember of the Titanic. However, his name does not appear on the crew list.
The article contains a mixture of credible and incredible detail. In the article he gives accurate figures for some of the categories of crew and passengers lost. He says he was in a boat picked up by "Carpathian" (sic) at around 5-00 a.m.
He claimed a number of Salvation Army people gave up their places in the boats to those they said were less prepared to meet their Maker. They then sang "Nearer my God, to Thee". He refers to them as "Christ's Chosen". It is a fact that a group of Salvation Army members were on board, but they were not the 200 mentioned by Butler and at least some survived. It may not be coincidental that Butler spent his last years in a Salvation Army home.
He described the efforts of Third Class passengers, locked below decks, to escape through locked portholes. He said some men offered bribes to get away and others disguised themselves as women.
He claimed to have returned to Australia, joined the army and served at Gallipoli. His basic military record shows that he joined up on 3 December 1914 and returned to Australia on 19 September 1916. His service number was 1708. He reached the rank of corporal in the 10th Battalion, Australian Imperial Force. This Battalion was among the first ashore at Gallipoli and Butler would have been with them.
He was born in Rosewater on the 24 March 1887 and died on 25 December 1970 he was cremated at Centennial Park on 30 December 1970. He left two children.
Dave Gittins, Australia
A grave in Aldinga, South Australia of Mary Janet and Colin McRae also records the fate of their children, and the third on the list bears this inscription: Alan 1889 - 1912 (missing SS Titanic). The name does not appear on any lists although there is an Arthur Gordon McCrae from Sydney, Australia who travelled second class and died in the disaster however Allan McRae, who was born at Aldinga on 19 March 1889 has no connection with Arthur Gordon McCrae so the story behind the inscription remains a mystery.
Wayne Starick, Australia
Dave Gittins, Australia
There has been speculation that Jack Johnson the American heavyweight boxing champion attempted to gain passage aboard the Titanic but was refused by a ticketing agent. However, the story is untrue.
In April 1912 Johnson was in the United States, probably in his hometown of Chicago, trying to arrange a title fight for that summer and preparing to open his nightclub there, Cafe de Champion, which opened in July. Johnson had spent the previous autumn in England and France fighting in exhibition matches, but returned to New York shortly before Christmas, 1911 aboard the Lloyd liner Kronprinzesen Cecille. A few days after "Titanic" sank he announced a fight with one Jim Flynn. This took place in Las Vegas on July 4th, 1912. Johnson returned to Europe in 1913. His biographer does not mention any trouble getting a berth on ships on White Star or any other line although it is mentioned in the blues "The Titanic" by Lead Belly.
Randy Roberts (1983 Papa Jack: Jack Johnson and the Era of White Hopes. New York, The Free Press, pp. 124-140
Dave Gittins, Australia
Andy Hall, USA
Mr C.Jowett is mentioned in The Oxford Chronicle (Berks and Bucks Gazette), 19th April 1912 (p.7) as signing on as a fireman, but his name is not listed. However they are probably referring to fireman Charles E.Judd.
In the Oxford newspapers a Prof. Glenthorne was reported as being a pianist with the orchestra.
Third Class Steward: Mr Rowland Winser
In the Oxford newspapers Mr Winser was reported as having written to friends prior to boarding the Titanic and of being lost in the sinking.
Josephine Johnson was travelling as a nursemaid/nanny for a doctor's family from New York. Members of her family believed she travelled on the Titanic perhaps because after leaving for New York they never heard from her again, however, her name does not appear in any passenger list and the identity of the Doctor is also unclear.
Samuel Harper, a correspondent of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, claimed to have been a secret service agent and to have survived the sinking of the Titanic by downing a bottle of Scotch
Lee McCubbins (or McCubbin) was living in London, and sent a post card to his mother indicating his newly aquired job as a crew member of the Titanic.
Robert Suczek, native of the Czech/Bohemian province in the Austro-Hungarian Empire, was a German-trained engineer and inventor. He lived in Europe at the time but had already been in the U.S. and had business affairs here.
Notified by telegram suddenly that business required his presence quickly in the U.S. he eagerly took the opportunity to reserve a first class passage on the Titanic which was due to leave the next day. Lacking cash to pay the full passage he arranged to have money wired from his bank in Brussels, Belgium, to the White Star Line's bank in Southampton which could notify the ship's purser by the newly active Marconi radio that the passage was paid.
Suczek embarked from Southampton and sailed with the Titanic to Cherbourg. But the radio brought no message of payment and Suczek was required to return then to Cherbourg with the harbor pilot. He sailed the next day on the Lusitania, and later heard news of the Titanic's fate. It is interesting to note that in his life, Suczek crossed the Atlantic 15 times by ship. The trip on the Titanic would have been his 5th. His last trip was in 1927. And though he lived until 1955, he never traveled by air.
Mr Alfred Franks Mr Alfred Franks of Edgbaston, Birmingham changed his mind after booking. A few days before sailing he took a boat from Liverpool instead.
Birmingham Daily Gazette, April 16 1912 - April 29 inc.
Alan Tucker, UK
Jerauld County Review
Thursday, April 24, 1913. Volume XXIL, Number 48. Page 1
"Almost sailed on the Titanic."
Martin Hansen, after a year's visit in Norway, returned to Wessington Springs last Friday. He crossed the Atlantic on The steamer Empress of Britain. His plans at one time were to return on the ill-fated Titanic, but for some reason decided to remain longer, thus escaping the Titanic tragedy. A person narrowly escapes many a tragedy and never knows it, nor why.
Martin Hansen's real name was Hans Marselious Hanson. His mother convinced him to stay longer. He had come to the U.S. when he was just 13. He died in 1961 at the age of 81. He left his mother, Two sisters, Katheryn and Marie in either Stevanger or Coppervick, Norway.
Sharon Johnson (grandaughter)
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Added to Encyclopedia Titanica Thursday 28th August 2003, last updated Tuesday 31st March 2015.