Encyclopedia Titanica

Captain Edward John Smith with Captain William Marchant Smith

Later Titanic Captain photographed with fellow officer

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Captain Edward John Smith with Captain William Marchant Smith
Captain Edward John Smith (left) Captain William Marchant Smith (right)

Captain Smith, later master of the Titanic and Senior Captain of the White Star Line, is seen together with William Marchant Smith, Marine Superintendent at New York of the White Star Line.

William Marchant Smith was born in Halifax, Nova Scotia on 6 May 1850 the son of William Alexander Smith and his wife Susanna Marchant.  On 26 July 1892 he married Ruth Metcalfe (1858–1919) at St Philips Church, Litherland, Lancashire, England.  They had three sons:  William Marmaduke Smith (1883–1933), Arthur Mayer Smith (1886–1967) and Robert Alexander Smith III (1887–1973).

William Marchant Smith retired in 1921 and died on 9 December 1932 in Hoboken, New Jersey.

CAPTAIN WILLIAM M. SMITH, port captain at New York of the White Star Line, has retired after 42 years’ contiguous service for the line, afloat and ashore, in the course of which he commanded some of its finest ships. His last official act for the line was to dispatch the Olympic on March 19 for Cherbourg and Southampton.

A pleasing feature of Captain Smith’s final days in the line’s employ was the presentation to him on March 12, by his associates at the White Star piers, of a handsome traveling bag, with toilet kit, mounted in silver.

Captain Smith is a native of Halifax, N.S., and was born in 1850, the son of an officer in the British Army. He commenced his sea service in 1868, and served five years apprenticeship on sailing ships engaged in the East Indian and Cape Horn trades, after a five year term on the training ship Conway. In 1878 he was appointed fourth officer of the White Star Liner Britannic, engaged in the Liverpool-New York service.

Between 1888 and 1899 Captain Smith commanded in turn each of the White Star Line ships in trans-Atlantic passenger service, the list embracing the Arabic,
Tauric, Teutonic and Majestic. He also served in the Pacific.

His first command was the Arabic, which he took in 1888 to Hong Kong, under charter to the Oriental & Occidental S.S. Co., operating between the Orient and San Francisco. He was transferred in December, 1899, to the Oceanic, also in that service. On that ship he had Nelly Bly as a passenger from Hong Kong to San Francisco, on her record-breaking trip around the world.

Captain Smith remained in the Pacific trade until 1895. He officiated at the launching of the second Oceanic in 1899, and in June of that year was appointed Marine Superintendent at New York of the White Star Line. — Shipping, 25 March 1921 (Vol. XIII), p. 36


Capt. W. M. Smith is dead in Hoboken

Had charge of troopships here during war and saw Gen. Pershing Off to Front.

Quit Sea after 36 years

Served as Marine Superintendent of White Star Line until he retired in 1921.

Captain William M Smith, for 22 years the marine superintendent of the White Star Line in New York, died yesterday at his home, 922 Bloomfield Street, Hoboken, in his 83rd year, after an illness of several weeks.

Captain Smith was one of the best-known figures along the Chelsea waterfront and during the world war had control of the arrival and departure of the troop ships and munition ships taking supplies over to England and France. One of the ships which captain "William," as he was popularly known, loaded and saw depart was the Baltic, in April, 1917. When General Pershing and his staff left with the first contingent of American troops for the Western front.

He was born in Halifax N.S., and served his early days in the "bluenose" clipper ships, starting at the age of 14. He joined the White Star Line in 1876 when the Germanic, the crack ship of the fleet, was put into service. He spent several years sailing from San Francisco to Japan and China and commanded the single-screw steamer Gallic.

In the China seas he was known as "Typhoon Bill" because of the skilful and daring seamanship he displayed bringing his ship safely through the storms in far Eastern waters while much larger vessels were kept at anchor in Hong Kong Shanghai and Kobe.

He gave up the sea after 36 years in 1899 to become a marine superintendent of the White Star here and held that position until March 1921, when he retired. His youngest son, Captain Robert A. Smith, is master of the Panama Pacific liner California, now on her way from San Francisco to New York. Another son, Arthur M. is in the shipping business in Liverpool, England. Captain Smith's eldest son, William, had not been heard from for many years and was believed by his father to have died. — New York Times, 10 December 1932, p. 15

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Encyclopedia Titanica (2022) Captain Edward John Smith with Captain William Marchant Smith ( ref: #698, published 17 November 2022, generated 2nd December 2022 03:27:14 PM); URL : https://www.encyclopedia-titanica.org/captain-edward-john-smith-with-captain-william-marchant-smith.html