Captain Smith's Finances

Sam Brannigan

Sam Brannigan

Hello all.

I noticed on one of the plethora of sites about the Titanic (an excellent one about his and Ismays homes in Liverpool....sorry can't find it at the moment!) that Captain Smiths estate on death was worth somewhere in the region of £3500.

Granted, this was a fair sum of money in 1912 but still not as much as may have been expected from one of the most highly paid mariners in the world (his basic salary was £1250 with a $200 "no collision" bonus).

To put it into perspective, Chief Engineer Bell, who was on a lesser salary, had spend around ten years less at sea and who had three more children than Smith, left a will of £6457 2s 10d.

This has got me thinking as to whether EJ had expensive tastes and what his life on land was like. There doesn't seem to be much information other than he liked fine cigars. Perhaps he had a social life on both sides of the Atlantic befitting his status at sea. Or was Bell simply very frugal?

Any thoughts much appreciated as usual!

Kind Regards

Sam, Maybe the difference in estate value lies in the fact that Joseph Bell married into money? His widow, Maud, was very comfortable in her own right before her marriage. Their home, "Barnton" in Belvidere Road, Great Crosby, was much superior to that of Smith's, especially when he lived on Marine Crescent which is about half a mile from Bell's home. Another Officer in question is Henry Tingle Wilde, whose wife Polly was also well established before her marriage and who left a very substantial sum in her will. Within a matter of some eighteen months, Wilde managed to decimate it to under £7000.
Whilst we view £3000 odd pounds as small fry today, it was, in those days a huge amount when the average working man's wage of between £2 and £4 is taken into account.
Thank you for your reply Geoff.

It seems that Bell and Wilde had wonderful wives in the financial sense as well as the emoional!

It would be interesting to find out how Wilde decimated the inheritance; he is such an enigmatic figure and it might also give some idea as to his character because he is a suspect in the alleged officer suicide.

Thank you also for the information on Chief engineer Bell's financial history. I wonder what the normal state of affairs in the late 19th century/early 20th century was for an officer who wished to wed. What "class" of lady and what sort of money could he expect to wed in to?

Kind regards

Sam, I have my own theories about Wilde's financial affairs but do not wish to start a thread here about them - also for his reasons for being on the ship in the first place email me privately if you so wish.