Encyclopedia Titanica

Cancelled Passages Aboard Titanic

Passengers that cancelled their tickets for the Titanic


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Cancelled Passages Aboard Titanic

Who Redeemeth Thy Life from Destruction

At 1:30 p.m. on Thursday, April 11, 1912 Titanic departed her anchorage off Roches Point near Queenstown, Ireland, turned, and set a southerly, then westerly course into the Atlantic Ocean's gentle swells.

David Blair
A reshuffling of the senior officers aboard Titanic saved the life of David Blair, who was first assigned as Titanic's second officer
(Courtesy of Rosanne MacIntyre)

As can be best determined, there were aboard at this point 2,228 persons – 1,320 passengers and 908 "working" crew. The figure of 2,228 was reached after minute examination of records and lists prepared by Titanic's owners and the official governmental bodies who investigated her loss. These data, some of which have surfaced only during recent years, reduce to a fraction of a percent the possibility of inaccuracy. Yet, based on past and present experience, probability for error continues to exist.

It is not within the scope of these lines to describe how the figure of 2,228 was determined. What shall be examined is one reason why, for many years, the "total aboard" varied between 2,201 and 2,340, depending upon which of several sources were consulted.

Cancellations by passengers, transfers, and last-minute desertions by crew account for a major discrepancy in preliminary lists. Many accepted these early lists as irrefutable fact. Even after it was clearly demonstrated they had never been aboard, some passengers' and crew members' names persisted on published lists. Thus far, canceled bookings for more than 50 passengers have been authenticated, mainly in newspaper stories at the time of the disaster. Names of crew who deserted, failed to join or transferred prior to the voyage appear on a list compiled for the British Board of Trade.

John Pierpont Morgan
J. P. Morgan, owner of International Mercantile Marine, parent company of the White Star Line, canceled his booking aboard Titanic at the last moment.

One name not appearing on the crew list is David ("Davy") Blair, who had come over from Oceanic to join Titanic at Belfast as second officer. Perhaps because the White Star Line wished him to have the experience of serving aboard a liner it was rumored he would one day command, the company's management through its marine superintendent – had Olympic chief officer Henry Tingle Wilde transferred to the newer vessel. Blair did serve aboard during the trip from Belfast, but when Wilde joined Titanic at Southampton a disappointed Blair returned to Oceanic.

Saturday, April 6 a majority of Titanic's crew signed on for the voyage. On sailing day, April 10, the men who had signed on reported aboard, passed muster and were divided. They then were dismissed to stand by for departure. Men who signed on but did not report for muster were classed as "Failed to Join." Those who came aboard, stood muster, then left the ship and failed to return by sailing time were regarded as "Deserted."

Prominent here on the crew list are the three Slade brothers, whose rounds of Southampton's waterfront pubs, their encounter with a recalcitrant dockside train and an officer who refused to lower the gangway have become part of Titanic lore. But what of "Junior Assistant 4th Engineer" Haveling's transfer on sailing date? Why? and to where?

We know that steward P. Kilford left because he was sick; but what was the "Consent" by which Sims and Burrows left?

Most remarkable of all stories of those who "missed" Titanic sailing is ship's fireman Thomas Hart, whose name does appear on the sailing list. Signing aboard at Southampton on April 6 with the rest of the "black gang" was a man who produced a Certificate of Continuous Discharge that bore Hart's name. The man was listed as "lost" and Hart's grieving mother began to make arrangements for her supposedly-drowned son's memorial service. One can scarcely imagine her shock and joy when, on May 8, her son walked into their Southampton home. Hart, it seems, had gotten drunk after signing for the voyage. His discharge book had been stolen and used by another to sign aboard. Following the theft, Hart walked about Southampton in a confused state, too ashamed to return home. Expediency finally overcame fear and shame. It was never determined who stole Hart's book, used it, and was lost.

Passengers who canceled bookings are more numerous, their reasons more diverse than the firemen, stewards and trimmers of Titanic crew who were left behind.

The American steel magnate Henry Clay Frick engaged a suite in February 1912 but canceled when Mrs. Frick sprained her ankle during a Mediterranean cruise. J. P. Morgan took over the booking but canceled when business interests lengthened his stay abroad. The booking was then assumed by Mr. and Mrs. J. Horace Harding, but the couple was able to get an earlier sailing date aboard Mauretania. (The suite – B-52, 54 and 56 – finally received a tenant for the voyage when it was occupied by Mr. J. Bruce Ismay.)

Ambassador Bacon
Ambassador Robert Bacon and his family booked passage aboard Titanic, but their delayed departure saved their lives.
(Library of Congress photograph)

Another cancellation was Mr. George W. Vanderbilt and his wife Edith. Someone in his or her family objected to their sailing aboard the new ship, "because so many things can go wrong on a maiden voyage." They canceled on April 91 . Their luggage, in the charge of one of their servants, Edwin Wheeler, had already been sent to Southampton and placed aboard. There was no time to remove the luggage. Wheeler, booked as a second-class passenger, stayed aboard and was lost.

The United States ambassador to France, Mr. Robert Bacon, had reserved passage aboard Titanic for himself, his wife and daughter. But their departure was delayed by the tardy arrival of the new ambassador, Myron T. Hendrick. The Bacon family sailed April 20 on the maiden voyage of the S.S. France – an event saddened by Titanic's loss.

After consulting accommodation charts, several people canceled their Titanic passages when they discovered their cabins to be unsatisfactory: Colonel J. Warren Hitchens, Mr. and Mrs. J. Clifford Wilson and their daughters Dorothy and Edith canceled their Titanic bookings and sailed aboard Rotterdam instead. Frank Kind, a Philadelphia jeweler, rebooked aboard the North German Lloyd liner Washington, which departed April 7 from Cherbourg.

Mr. and Mrs. James V. O'Brien of Cleveland, Ohio, in Ireland to settle a lawsuit they had instigated, planned to sail for America from Queenstown aboard Titanic. Sixty years later, on her 100th birthday in 1972, Mrs. O'Brien recalled how their business lasted longer than expected and she and her husband switched to a later ship. Not only Mrs. O'Brien but her 14 grandchildren and 24 great-grandchildren were also grateful, in 1972, of the change.

Henry Clay Frick
Mr. & Mrs. Henry Clay Frick canceled their booking of cabin B-52 when Mrs. Frick hurt her ankle at Madeira while on a cruise aboard Adriatic. (Corbis-Bettmann)

On furlough from his mission in Sialkot, India, en route from Karachi to Boston by way of the Mediterranean and France, the Rev. Henry S. Nesbitt, his wife and five children had planned to sail to New York aboard the Majestic. When this ship's sailing was canceled by the coal strike, Thomas Cook's Paris agents assured the Nesbitts that the new ship Titanic would take her passengers on her April 10th maiden voyage. Arriving at London, the Rev. Nesbitt unexpectedly learned of a serious illness that had befallen Mrs. Nesbitt's father.

Several days of leisurely sightseeing were abruptly set aside. It was now essential that the family cross the Atlantic as soon as possible to reach the ailing man's side. After considerable trouble, caused by the Good Friday closure of the Cunard offices, they were able to make a last-minute booking on the Cunard liner Carmania, which had a Saturday, April 6 departure date. Traveling by the Cunard boat train to Liverpool where they hastily boarded Carmania, the Nesbitt family reached New York late in the afternoon of April 14, only to read in the following day's newspapers of the loss at sea of the liner on which they had planned to sail. Had not the merest chance enabled them to sail aboard Carmania, the Nesbitts would have been "automatically" transferred from Majestic to Titanic and might have suffered the privations of the disaster.

On exhibit at Liverpool's Merseyside Maritime Museum is a yellowed envelope whose black-and-red printing announces that it contains "First Class Passenger Ticket per Steamship..." (Then, written in fading brown ink): Titanic.

Rev. Holden's Titanic Ticket
Reverend Holden's Titanic Envelope
Because Reverend Holden's wife was taken ill, their tickets, once contained in this unique envelope, were never used.
The reverend framed the envelope with the inscription, "Who Redeemeth Thy Life from Destruction" and retained it for years after the sinking. (Merseyside Maritime Museum)

Also written in the same fading ink at the envelope's top right edge, is the name of the passenger for whom the ticket was intended: "Rev. J. Stuart Holden." Yet, one searches in vain for the name and ticket number that was so surely issued.

J. Stuart Holden
Rev. J. Stuart Holden's wife became ill, causing him to change his travel plans
(Courtesy of Martin Leggett)

Having received his ticket, the Rev. Holden – vicar of St. Paul's Church, Portman Square, London – was preparing for his departure to America aboard Titanic to speak at the Christian Conservation Congress (a six-day convention opening at Carnegie Hall April 20) when his plans were interrupted by his wife's sudden illness. On April 9, one day before sailing, the Rev. Holden postponed his trip to stay at his wife's side. He returned his ticket, but retained the envelope in which it has been delivered. The envelope was subsequently framed, and in gratitude to God for his miraculous escape, Rev. Holden penned in his own hand on the matte within the frame, an expression of faith and thanksgiving.
From Psalm 103, verse 3, the phrase not only speaks for Rev. Holden, but represents the unspoken thanks for all who, for one reason or other, were not aboard Titanic when she departed Queenstown on Thursday, April 11 at 1.30 p.m. with 2,228 persons aboard, or among the 1,523 lost less than 85 hours later. "WHO REDEEMETH THY LIFE FROM DESTRUCTION."

The Rev. Holden was not the only clergyman planning to attend the Christian Congress who did not sail from England aboard Titanic.

George Vanderbilt
George W Vanderbilt did not sail aboard Titanic on the advice of family. Photo taken c. 1900).

According to an article in The New York Times April 20, 1912, two other European speakers who had been invited to speak at the convocation also canceled their passages aboard Titanic maiden voyage when forced by circumstances to change their plans: Archbishop Thomas J. Madden, of Liverpool, and the Rev. J.S. Wardell Stafford, Fraternal Delegate of the Wesleyan Churchof Great Britain to the six-day evangelical rally.
(This is the same Christian rally which the British editor, William Thomas Stead had been invited to address. Mr. Stead did not cancel, and was lost in the disaster.)

To Date Only About 6,000 Were About to Take
Titanic But Changed Their Minds
It's certain that two boats the size of Titanic could not carry the crowds that 'just missed taking' the lost ship.
To date 3,482 Americans, 2,950 Britons and 476 scattered, all more or less prominent, have entered the "Just Missed It Club."
It appears that 4,965 of these had engaged passage, but canceled their reservations before the Titanic sailed. Of this number, 899 had premonitions of disaster. The rest were in Paris and couldn't break away.
Of the balance, 732 are glad they were not aboard at the time, as they surely would have come home on the Titanic.
Firesides of future generations are sure to be thrilled by grandfather's story of how his paternal ancestor 'just missed it...
Milwaukee [Wisconsin] Journal, April 19122

Thus was the matter of "missed" passages on Titanic somewhat jocularly dismissed by an American newspaper in April 1912. However, the fact does remain that there were a number of people who, for one reason or another – including some who were hired, had actually received tickets or confirmed their passage – did cancel their trips.

As noted, among the crew, some, such as the three Slade brothers, had their passages canceled for them. Thomas Hart did not sail as a crew member, but "Thomas Hare" did; fireman John Coffey made it part way, as far as Queenstown, before deserting.

Charles Ross
Charles Ross sailed aboard the Carmania three days before Titanic's maiden voyage.

A number of passengers did not sail because they were delayed by business or personal reasons. One passenger, already booked (and his name on the passenger list) missed the sailing because his car broke down on the way to Cherbourg.

According to the August 8, 1912 Daily Independent of Monessen, Pennsylvania, after writing to friends that she would sail on Titanic's maiden voyage, Miss Maude Powell changed her mind and remained a bit longer in England. She had been medical missionary in Peking, China for six years. She sent a letter to her American friends advising them of her change in plans, but somehow the letter had gone astray, and they believed her lost. U. S. immigration records confirm she ultimately sailed from Southampton aboard the Kronprinz Wilhelm on July 3, 1912, arriving in New York one week later.

There were 18 third-class passengers, booked at Queenstown, who did not board. Some cancellations (most not noted here), were apparently based on various psychic forebodings.

Clergymen appear to have done especially well in missing the boat: Rev. J. Stuart Holden, Rev. Henry Nesbitt, Rt. Rev. T. J. Madden, Rev. J. S. Wardell Stafford. All were spared to carry on God's work in greener pastures.

Transferring to earlier or later ships; pending business or judicial dealings; personal or family problems; desertion; inadequate accommodations . . . Regardless of the cause, there were a number of bona fide cancellations for Titanic's 10 April departure from Southampton.

For those who chose not to travel, for those who could not or would not go, it was a time of gratitude and thanksgiving, a time of reflection – a time of acknowledgement to the Supreme Being "who redeemeth thy life from destruction."

Passengers who cancelled bookings aboard Titanic

  • ADELMAN, Mr. and Mrs
    New York Evening Mail
  • ANDERSON, Mr. and Mrs.
    Walter New York Evening World
  • BACON, Robert, wife and daughter
    New York Times
    U.S. Ambassador to France, was delayed by late arrival of his successor, Myron T. Hendrick. Changed to the France, which departed France on her maiden voyage 20 April 1912.
  • BILL, Mr. and Mrs. Edward W.
    London Daily Mirror, 18 April 1912
    Mrs. Bill had a dream of Titanic being wrecked; they sailed on Celtic instead.
  • BOND, Mrs. Florence and maid
    New York Evening World
  • CARLSON, Frank
    Walter Lord, The Night Lives On, p. 46
    Driving to Cherbourg, his car broke down and he missed the boat. However, his name remained on passenger list.
  • CRAIG, Norman, KC, MP
    New York Evening World
    Had booked cabin C-132
  • DAVIES, S. P.
    Minneapolis, MN Morning Tribune, 20 April 1912
    Of Winnipeg, Manitoba; canceled because illness forced him to take an earlier ship.
  • EASTMAN, Miss Annie
    New York Evening World
    Had booked cabin D-31
  • FRANKS, Alfred
    Birmingham [England] Daily Gazette, 16 April 1912 Changed his mind after booking. A few days before 10 April, took a ship from Liverpool instead.
  • FRICK, Mr. and Mrs. Henry Clay
    New York Times
    Booked for suite B-52; canceled when Mrs. Frick hurt her ankle at Madeira on a cruise aboard Adriatic.
  • HANAN, Mr. and Mrs.
    New York Evening World
  • HARDING, Mr. and Mrs. J. Horace
    New York Times
    Booked suite B-52 after it had been given up by Henry Frick and J.P. Morgan; canceled and took Mauretania instead
  • HART, George
    New York Evening Mail
  • HITCHENS, Col. J. Warren
    Philadelphia Inquirer
    Could not get suitable accommodations
  • HOLDEN, Rev. J. Stuart
    New York Times, 20 April 1912 (et al)
    Vicar of St. Paul's, Portman Square, London. Canceled 9 April due to wife's illness.
  • JENKINS, Dr. J. C.
    New York Evening World
  • KIND, Frank
    Philadelphia Evening Bulletin
    Booked from Amsterdam, saw accommodation plan at Paris, canceled. Transferred to NDL Washington, departed 7 April 1912
  • LANCASTER, Charles
    (per New York Times: Head of Liverpool Chamber of Commerce)
  • LAWRENCE, Arthur
    New York Times
    Was booked for cabin E-37
  • LEWIS, Mr. and Mrs. Carlton P. (? Charlton; ?Charles T.)
    New York Times
    Were booked for cabin D-32 (see WOOD)
  • MADDEN, The Rt. Rev. T. J.
    New York Times, 20 April 1912
    Archbishop of Liverpool, England
  • MELODY, Mr. A.
    New York Evening World
  • MIDDLETON, Hon. J. Conan
    New York Evening Mail
  • MORGAN, Mr. John Pierpont
    New York Times
    Booked suite B-52. Was delayed by business (suite then booked by Mr. and Mrs. J. Horace Harding).
  • NESBITT, Rev. Henry S., wife and five hildren
    Self-published pamphlet
    Re-booked 10 April 1912 Titanic departure to 6 April 1912 Carmania departure because of family emergency.
  • NORMAN, Maxwell
    New York Times
    From Boston. Changed to Oceanic
  • O'BRIEN, Mr. and Mrs. James V.
    Cleveland [Ohio] Plain Dealer, 14 June 1972
    Were in Ireland because of a lawsuit, which lasted longer than expected. Had to switch to another ship.
  • PUFFER, Mr. C. C.
    New York Evening World
  • ROBERTS, Mrs. Elizabeth Walker, and maid
    New York Evening World
    Saved as Mrs. Elizabeth Robert, and maid
  • ROSS, Sir Charles
    Toronto Globe, 17 April 1912
    Booked to return on Lusitania, whose voyage was canceled by coal strike. Could not wait for Titanic, re-booked on Carmania sailing 3 days ahead of Titanic.
  • STAFFORD, Rev. J. S. Wardell
    New York Times 20 April 1912
  • THOMPSON, Mr. and Mrs. Thomas, and son Harold (Pvt. correspondence)
    The Thompson family had to cancel their Titanic trip when their son was badly hurt while playing.
  • TURNER, Mr. and Mrs. George H.
    New York Evening Mail
  • VANDERBILT, Mr. and Mrs. George
    New York Times (et al)
    Canceled their passage 8 April 1912 when a family member objected to their traveling on a maiden voyage
  • WHITE, Mr. A.J.
    New York Evening World
  • WILKINSON, Miss Ada
    New York Evening World
  • WILKINSON, Mrs. S. George
    New York Evening World
  • WILSON, Mr. and Mrs. J. Clifford Philadelphia Inquirer
  • WILSON, Miss Dorothy and Miss Edith
    Philadelphia Inquirer
    Could not get the accommodations they wanted; Re-booked on the Rotterdam
  • WOOD, Mr. and Mrs. Frank P.
    New York Evening World
    Booked for cabin D-32 (see LEWIS)

At Queenstown, in addition to the names of 115 adults and five children who boarded, there also appear on the list names of 18 people who did not use the tickets they had purchased for passage aboard Titanic.

It is interesting to speculate why these tcketed passengers did not board, and, if they had, who would have been saved and who would have added their names to the 1,523 lost.

Ticket number
Passenger Name Occupation
Jordan, Mary Spinster
O'Brien, Denis Farmer
Tyndon, James Farmer
Scanlon, James Farm Laborer
Gilligan, Margaret Spinster
O'Connell, Pat General Laborer
Dwan, Frank General Laborer
Thomas, Pat General Laborer
Callaghan, Nora Spinster
Jordan, Annie Spinster
{Courtney, Bridget Housekeeper
{Courtney, Margaret Infant
11 mos.
O'Sullivan, Michael Farmer
Dunne, Mary Spinster
Martin, Mary Spinster
Ryan, Pat General Laborer [adult]
Concannon, John Carpenter
Forhan, Delia Spinster


  1. On 30 April The New York Times reported that Edith's mother, Mrs. Susan Dresser, had expressed the objection. But Mrs. Dresser died in 1883. Edith Vanderbilt's sister, also named Susan Dresser, might have been the family's Cassandra.
  2. Quoted in Behe, George, Titanic: Psychic Forewarnings of a Disaster, Patrick Stephens, Ltd., Wellingborough, England, 1988.

Related Biographies

David Blair
John Coffey
James Hart
Joseph Bruce Ismay
John Pierpont Morgan
Edwin Charles Wheeler
Henry Clay Frick
Ambassador Robert Bacon
.J. Stuart Holden


John P. Eaton


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Comment and discuss

  1. Rachel33_slater

    Rachel33_slater said:

    I am interested in the cancelled ticket of Arthur Lawrence and if any other information is known about him. My great aunt said her friend arthur lawrence work or travelled on the titanic and died. I have seen the records for Arthur lawrence the steward but then came across this record.

  2. Justin Castillo

    Justin Castillo said:

    Why isn't Milton Hershey on this list?

  3. Stringfield1

    Stringfield1 said:

    One of the family legends is that my grandmother was to sail on the Titanic but her daughter didn't pass the health check (scarlet fever) and she had to sail at a later date. There doesn't seem to be anyway to verify that information.

  4. Michael Guntli

    Michael Guntli said:

    According to a copy of the passenger list I printed off years ago- he wasn't even on the Titanic. To the best of my knowlege he wasn't even booked.

  5. Mistergreen_16

    Mistergreen_16 said:

    i have a grandmother that passed and missed the titanic how do i see a list of passengers who bought tickets but didn't show

  6. Dennis Degler

    Dennis Degler said:

    My grandmother, aged 29/30 at the time, Miss Edith Ellen Fayers of Bradford, West Yorkshire, missed the sail date. Her luggage, however, was still on board the Titanic when she sank. I have not been able to find her record on this site. Could you please help?

  7. John S. Gordon

    John S. Gordon said:

    my mother was sir charles ross' secretary in washington DC during 1936-42. i was unaware of his connection with titanic until now. i remember him as an extremely generous man, he gave me lots of toys. > jack

  8. Joe Cicak

    Joe Cicak said:

    My grandmother and her infant daughter purchased passage on the Titanic, but missed the boat when the train was late. I have seen the "Bill of Passage" I think it was called with the White Star flag emblem and engraving of the Titanic across the top and their names written on it as passengers. Their fair was $36.50 I believe. Her name was Marie Cicak. Her daughter was Katleen, or Katerina, or some other derivation of Katherine. Not sure why they are not on the list of those who missed the boat.

  9. Elderleigh

    Elderleigh said:

    "Transferring to earlier or later ships; pending business or judicial dealings; personal or family problems; desertion; inadequate accommodations . . . Regardless of the cause, there were a number of bona fide cancellations for Titanic's 10 April departure from Southampton." Is there any way to find out if there exists a list of people who tranferred to earlier ships? I too had an old family story that my grandfather missed the Titanic and with records I have found on Ancestry, I know he arrived in Nova Scotia on April 98, 1912 - one week to the day before the Titanic disaster. I would love to know if he was on some kind of transfer list or if this was more if a myth.

  10. Elderleigh

    Elderleigh said:

    Date correction - he arrived april 08 1912

  11. Gary Scales

    Gary Scales said:

    I am interested in finding a full list of people who had purchased tickets but did not board the Titanic for whatever reason. My great great grandfather (William Henry McAllister and wife Annie) was supposed to be on the ship but a few days (?) before the sailing one of his kids caught measles or chicken pox and they did not sail. Can't seem to find a complete list of cancelled ticket holders anywhere!! Help!!

  12. Indygirl

    Indygirl said:

    My mother Marie Bauer was to be on the titanic with her grandmother Mary Meier. She was 6 years old. Missed the ship. How can I find out why her name is not on the missed the ship list. Did they have to purchase tickets weeks before it departed?

  13. Dragnofly3387

    Dragnofly3387 said:

    I would love to find that out to. One of the rumors is that my Grandfather missed the Titanic and had to board a different ship.

  14. Robin Hodges Schwartz

    Robin Hodges Schwartz said:

    My great uncle's name was Aaron (Aron) Hodges. His obituary stated that he was scheduled to be on the Titanic but missed his connection. I'm looking for information if he ever purchased a ticket. Unfortunately Chief Machinist Aaron lost his life aboard a US Coast Guard submarine in 1927. Any information about his possible ticket would be greatly appreciated.

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Encyclopedia Titanica (2008) Cancelled Passages Aboard Titanic (Voyage, ref: #6066, published 6 April 2008, generated 13th November 2022 08:54:09 AM); URL : https://www.encyclopedia-titanica.org/canceled-titanic-passages.html