Edward Sr's date of death


Sherry Tripp

Does anyone know for sure the actual date of death for the Captain's father? The 1885 listed on the Enchanted site is the wrong date but I haven't found anyone who knows the proper date yet. Would appreciate it.
The date is given as 29 December 1885 in Gary Cooper's The Man Who Sank the Titanic? (The Life and Times of Captain Edward J. Smith).

Is that the same date as listed on the site you've mentioned?
Yes, that's the date but it is wrong. EJ Smith's mother was living with her daughter and family in the 1880 Census and was listed as a widow so Edward Sr. was already dead. They were following the wrong Smith line.
This is the 1881 (not 1880) Census entry

Name Relation Marital Status Gender Age Birthplace Occupation Disability
Catharine SMITH Head W Female 71 Penkall, Stafford, England
William HARRINGTON Son In Law M Male 43 Pilsall, Stafford, England Machanical Engineer
Thyrza HARRINGTON Daur M Female 44 Tunstall, Stafford, England
Annie M.C. HARRINGTON Grand Daur Female 14 Hanley, Stafford, England
Edward HARRINGTON Grandson Male 7 Hanley, Stafford, England

Source Information:
Dwelling 7 Peel St
Census Place Runcorn, Cheshire, England
Family History Library Film 1341842
Public Records Office Reference RG11
Piece / Folio 3516 / 64
Page Number 12
Hello Sherry, yes you're right, the date is wrong. I've spent the last year or so going back through the Smith family background and have discovered quite a few discrepancies. The book was written mostly in the late 80's when I had nowhere near the amount of access to documents that I do now - no world wide web for instance - and most of the family info was culled from newspaper accounts. That will teach me.
Though I have not yet obtained the certificate, I believe that E. J.'s father died in 1867/68. Certainly that is the time when Edward Smith's name was replaced by his wife's in the local rate books and trade directories.
Sherry, I was going to post that I'd take the census data over just about anything else anytime, but fortunately Gary's already popped in to explain how the anamoly in his book came about. Thanks for the interesting update, both of you. I'll have to re-read the chapter on EJ's formative years with that new date for his father's death in mind.
Great to see that the work on EJ and his family is ongoing - I know you've mentioned you're still working on it, Gary, and there's been some good progress made. You must have an absolute nightmare with that surname - I know that tracking data on a 'Lowe' is awkward, even with known regional areas for GRO certificates (have always been grateful when it came to looking up a Boxhall or Lightoller).

Cheers for posting that Census data, Sherry.
Hello again Inger, yes still plugging away at it and I'm pretty pleased with what I have so far, but there are still many loose ends that need tying up. Actually the surname does not present too much of a problem in regard to Smith's immediate family as at least three generations appear to have lived in the same street, Well Street, for sixty or seventy years - nice of them! There are lots of Edwards, though, which muddies the water no end.
Good to hear that the Smith name hasn't proved such an obstacle, Gary - I know from looking at GRO indexes that if a birth/death/marriage occurs out of a district associated with a family, it can pose a difficulty! Jemma once glued me to a microfilm reader to help her run through several census returns for a couple of particular areas, copying every occurance of three surnames connected with a particular family so she could sift through them later.

One thing that interested me in your work was the Thyrza coincidence - these sorts of glitches seem to come up quite regularly. You come across a name (for example, Emma Harriet Quick, Lowe's mother) within the right estimated time frame, and it seems specific enough and geographically plausible enough, but when ordering up the certificate it becomes apparent that it's the wrong person.
I'm a little late in answering you Inger as I've just been on my hols.

Yes, that Thirza problem has nagged at me for some time, and I was discussing it a short time ago in another thread. There are two explanations to the puzzle One is that Thirra/Thirza were the same girl - a view voiced by a genealogist friend of mine. When he heard that they had the same birthday he noted that it was common for sickly children to receive a hurried baptism, followed by a proper baptism if they survived. The second explanation of the facts is that they were twins, but there is no death or burial data on 'Thirra' if she ever existed as a separate person. Plus, all this was pre-central registration by a year - talk about near misses - so no certificates. For the time being I'll employ Occam's Razor and say that the first and simplest explanation is probably the right one.

The biggest headache for me in regard to Smith's family history is that in 1842, serious riots in the Potteries destroyed most of Hanley's parish records when the parsonage was burnt down. The Smith's were Methodists, but pre-1837, they had to marry in the local Anglican church, so those records have gone up in smoke, like most of my own family's! Pre-1842, the Smith's family history should be marked 'here be dragons'.

So, it's a tough project tracking EJ's forebears, I certainly don't envy you tracing as many of the officers as you are. Is your Lowe research at book stage yet? You must let us know if it gets published.
It exists as a draft MS (two drafts, actually...) and I've been asked to submit sample chapters. I'll hopefully get around to doing that soon. Sympathies on the destruction of the parish records! The same thing happened to a good deal of early material relating to the Lowe family - the parish records were destroyed in the English Civil War, making it almost impossible to trace a rumoured link to William the Conquerer's family. As it is, the firmest early records are Elizabethan.

Very intresting angles on Thirra/Thirza! The joys of geneology, eh?
Re the above. I've finally obtained Edward Smith's (EJ's father's) death certificate. Edward Smith, died in Well Street, Hanley on 7th October 1864 from Phthisis (a form of pulmonary TB). He was 59 years old and had worked as a pottery presser - i.e., press-moulding pottery by hand. His step-daughter, Thyrza Harrington was the informant.

Edward Smith was buried on 11th October 1864 at Hanley Cemetary. The burial record describes him as 59 years old, but lists his employment as a grocer. The service was carried out by Rev. C J Slating. The grave was plot 21204 in consecrated ground. I've been down for a look, there is no gravestone, though I did find Thirza's and her husband's.
Good work Gary- I know how hard this stuff is to dig out sometimes. Is it Thirza or Thyrza? I also know how disappointing it is to rush down to the cemetery only to find -no stone! Sadly, that applies to more than a few Titanic people.
It's 'Thirza' in the early records, but 'Thyrza' in the later references and on the gravestone - probably looks cooler with a Y. Being an old stick-in-the-mud, I prefer the earlier version.
Hey Gary,

Have you ever thought about doing some kind of repackaged, expanded second edition? I sort of suspect that your book might sell much better in today's market, in the post James Cameron era. From what I've seen of the gift shop in that permanent Titanic exhibit in Orlando (near Disney), Titanic almost seems like a niche market. I bet if you got a publisher to make it into one of those coffee table books with giant glossy pictures, people would buy it. Just a thought. Rob H.