Edward Abbott was born in Liverpool, England on 24 April 1886. One of four children, he was the son of a Scots-born father, Edward Abbott, a general labourer, and the former Ann Milligan of Liverpool.
As a youth he worked as a shop errand boy but later went to sea and spent an early portion of his career as a steward aboard the Ivernia. In April 1912 was serving as a waiter aboard the Carpathia when that ship rescued the survivors of the Titanic disaster. Speaking several months after the event, Mr Abbott stated:
"…When at last we reached the spot day was just breaking, and the doomed monster was out of sight. We saw a light which all thought was one of the Titanic's, but this disappeared while we were yet a long way off. This light was probably the last seen of the vessel.
"As soon as we came near the wreck the speed was checked, and we crept along at a snail's pace, picking up survivors as we went. The first boat was one which had a couple of sailors on it, and they had erected a sail which brought them to our side. The other boats were rowed up to the ship. Those which could not come in were rescued by some of our boats which were lowered. All who were able climbed up rope ladders, and a basket with canvas sides and a wood bottom was lowered for the others.
In one of the rescued boats I counted eleven people; it should hold sixty. Some of the survivors were almost frozen. The cold was intense and none of them was dressed warmly most wore only a dressing gown…" —The Evening Independent, 6 September 1912
In August 1912 Abbott permanently settled in the USA, making his home in Massillon, Ohio where he became a naturalised citizen six years later. He was married on 1 October 1917 to Eva Brannan, née Milligan (b. 1874), a widow with two sons. Predeceased by his wife Eva in 1941, Abbott was remarried several years later to widow Cora Howenstine, née Bell (1876-1954) who also predeceased him.
Abbott worked for over thirty years as a grinder at the Union Drawn Steel division of Republic Steel Corporation until his retirement in 1951, after which he spent his time fishing and vacationing in Florida.
Edward Abbott continued to make his home in Massillon, Ohio until his death on 24 December 1957. He was buried in Massillon City Cemetery with his first wife Eva.