EJ's Parents & Half-Siblings


Keith Lassner

1. EJs mother Catherine was married to a HANCOCK prior to marrying Edward. Correct?

2. I've read that EJs father was married before, too. Is this true and does anyone know the full name of his bride?

3. EJ was an only child. However, what were the names of EJs half-siblings from his parents other marriages?

Many, many thanks! I'm trying to unravel a bit of oral tradition that places EJ in our family tree.
I'm not too up on EJ, but the following information comes from his biographer, Gary Cooper:

His mother was born Catherine Marsh circa 1809. In 1831 she married a potter named George John HANCOCK, by who she had two children, Joseph and Thirza (Cooper points out an interesting coincidence - the similarly named Thirra Hancock, daughter of a John and Catherine Hancock, was born in the same place - Wolstanton - six days after Thirza was born on 1 January 1836).

Joseph Hancock died of heart disease c. 1893.
There still is never any postings on EJ's father. That enchanted titanic site lists him as dieing in 1885 yet Catherine is living with Thurza and family in 1880 and is listed as a widow. People don't even have the right father for EJ so how can anyone find his "other" half siblings.... they do exist.
Yes, Catherine Smith nee Marsh was married to John Hancock on 13th March 1831. The couple appear to have had three children: Joseph born c.1832 (no definate records) , John born or at least baptised on 6th February 1834, who must have died young as he never appears again. Then there was Thirza born on 1st January 1836. I have recently corresponded with a genealogist on the Thirza/Thirra conundrum, he believes that they were one and the same person, the earlier baptism of Thirra on 7th January may have happened if the girl child was sickly and seemed unlikely to survive, hence a hasty Anglican baptism. She may have then rallied and was rebaptised (and the name corrected) ten days latter in a Primative Methodist baptism. This was, I am told, quite a common practice in Victorian times. Alternatively they may have been twin girls, but there are no further records of Thirra after this, so if such a girl existed she died young, though I have yet to find proof of this.
I too have read that E.J.'s father had contracted an earlier marriage, but I've never found any evidence of this. In the 1841 census, Edward and his younger brother George were still unmarried and living with their mother in Well Street, Hanley. A few days later their mother died from dropsy and a couple of weeks later on 2nd August 1841, Edward Smith married Catherine Hancock. On the certificate Edward said he was a bachelor and there is no reason to believe otherwise.
I'm still trying to get my head around many of the twists and turns in Smith's family history, but the facts stated above come from either local parish accounts or birth, death or marriage certificates in my possession. Hope this helps.
Thanks Gary- very enlightening about the Hancocks. The collection of E.J. Smith's letters in Mystic have the Captain writing to his nephew Frank Hancock,who had a wife and three children -and was an obvious favorite of his Uncle. I wonder if Frank was the son of a sibling of George's- or maybe the son of Joseph, making E.J. actually a "half"-uncle? Frank lived in America, in the South for a time and eventually ended up in CT. Geneaology- gotta love it! The letters are here on Et and also here http://www.revdma2.com/letters.html
Fascinating those letters arn't they? According to the expanding Smith-Hancock family tree I have before me, Frank Arthur Douglas Hancock was born in Stoke on Trent in the December quarter (October, November or December) 1862. He was probably the son of E.J.'s half-brother Joseph Hancock, though I have not yet confirmed this. So, yes, in this case he would have only been a half-uncle, if such a thing exists. Joseph Hancock and his wife Susanna Wrench already had at least one child, George John Hancock, born 24th July 1858, there may be other offspring, but I've not found them yet.
The George Smith I mentioned in my earlier post was E.J.'s uncle, who also married and had kids, but Frank was not one of them, that would have made him his cousin. Not that we lack for these, indeed, there are a whole raft of Smith cousins who lived in the area during E.J's childhood. Captain Smith may have been an only child by the marriage of Edward and Catherine Smith, but he certainly did not lack for relatives on either side of the family.
Gary- yes I was thinking along those same lines. Yes, those letters are a goldmine and indicated for the first time, Mrs. Smith called her husband "Ted" and that he had such a good-natured and pleasant personality, also she referred to her daughter as Melville. So poignant was E.J.'s plaintive sentence about her being his only child. Mrs. Smith was certainly very pretty and looks significantly younger than her husband. She obviously adored him, which was heartening to read- "My Dear One"- I gather Frank and family moved up to CT from Savannah, but am not sure when or if they also lived elsewhere in between. I would love to know where that photograph of EJ in the white moroccan leatherette frame got to! What would we do without letters from the Past? Makes me worry about future generations and how email may kill historical detail of fascinating everyday life.
is ther any truth in a story that cpt smith had a liason with an unmarried lady
Hi Inger, Thanks for at last answering my long lingering question as to who Smith's biographer was? Do you know where to find access to it? Thanks-Rob Hauser
Not a problem, Rob. I'm afraid it's out of print now, so your best bets would be on-line second hand catalogues like Bookfinder or the ABE, or possibly interlibrary loan. Or you can ask Gary Cooper, the author, who has posted in this thread!
Hi Inger

Gary's book 'The Man who sank the Titanic' is still available on Amazon

Regards Ernie
Hello all,
I came across this site when trying to see where Captain Edward John Smith fit into my family tree. Apparently he his my great great uncle and is not included in the direct decent family tree in my posession. If you have ANY information on his parents, parents (his grandparents) please post!
Thank you so much.
Hi Samantha

As far as I know, Capt. Smith did not have any full brothers or sisters. Does your family tree
take you back to either his half-brother or half sister, the Hancocks?

The point I was making in my earlier post is that only descendants of the Hancock's could call him uncle, great-uncle etc. Now distant cousins, that would be a different kettle of fish, there is quite a few of those around.
i have a family tree but he isn't included on it. it must be his grandparents that are because the hancocks are not on it (i think). thanks for the post. i might be able to send you the family tree?.. i'm sorta new on this whole thing. a reporter in england stole our families death certificate (captain edward smith's)when my grandfathers mother was very sick. it was right about the time when they found it, so they found out we were of relation and decided to come and interview.