William Owens was born at Great Homer Street in Liverpool, England on 11 August 1889 and baptised in St Peter’s Church on 26 August. He was the son of Robert Owens, a carter, and Elizabeth Ann Roberts.
The 1891 census shows the family living at 115 Great Homer Street but by 1901 William and his elder brother Edward were living with their maternal grandparents Richard and Ellen Roberts at 29 Clement Street and both were described as labourers. He went to sea as a teenager, working as a trimmer aboard a number of different ships, including Artist and Saxonia.
William was married in All Souls’ Church, Vauxhall in May 1910 to Frances Brew (b. 1890) and their son Robert was born three months later; the family appeared on the 1911 census living at 33 Eccles Street, Liverpool and Owens was described as a ship’s trimmer for Cunard.
In April 1912 Owens was serving as a trimmer aboard the eastward-bound voyage of the Carpathia when that ship rescued the survivors of the Titanic.
William Owens returned to working at sea after the Titanic disaster, later returning to work aboard Saxonia. He and his wife had more children and he later left the sea to work as a general labourer; by 1939 the family lived at 50 Highgate Street in Liverpool.
William Owens died in Liverpool in January 1959 and was buried in Anfield Cemetery (plot 268, section 17) on 3 February 1959.