FiremanStoker Charles Decker

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Martha Iannone

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My great grandfather Charles Decker was on the Titanic from Belfast,where he lived, to Southampton, where he disembarked. What would be the reason why some of the crew left the Ship.
 
Dec 2, 2000
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Easley South Carolina
Sounds to me like this man was simply part of the delivery crew. These people made their living by ferrying ships from one point to wherever the owners wanted her, then they would leave and the permanent crew would come aboard and take over.
 

Dave Gittins

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Apr 11, 2001
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Michael is correct. The nucleus of the victualling and deck crews joined at Belfast and stayed on for the New York voyage, but the firemen and trimmers were what were called 'runners', who went home after doing the delivery voyage. I believe they took a train to Liverpool and a ferry to Belfast.

Sadly, this perfectly normal arrangement has been misrepresented by Robin Gardiner as part of his stupid conspiracy 'theory'.
 
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colin brawley

Guest
Charles Decker was my great grandfather. He had planned leaving titanic in the usa.He was involved in a fight with another stoker and ended up with a black eye.So he left titanic at Southampton.His eldest son had already gone to america and when word reached there of the sinking he thought his father had drowned. Charles, his wife and ten of his children emigrated to the usa and he died there in january 1955 aged 94.
 

Noel F. Jones

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May 14, 2002
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"Michael is correct. The nucleus of the victualling and deck crews joined at Belfast and stayed on for the New York voyage, but the firemen and trimmers were what were called 'runners', who went home after doing the delivery voyage. I believe they took a train to Liverpool and a ferry to Belfast.

Sadly, this perfectly normal arrangement has been misrepresented by Robin Gardiner as part of his stupid conspiracy 'theory'."


In my experience the established practice was to open a 'run' Home Trade Agreement for the coastal passage. This would necessarily close at the destination port and foreign-going Articles would be opened for the ocean passage.

Which begs the question:-

Do we know where the deep sea Articles were opened, Belfast or So'ton? If the latter then none of the crew would classify as 'runners'.

Noel
 

Dave Gittins

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Apr 11, 2001
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Part of the signing on list is reproduced on page 58 of Belfast's Own. It looks the same as the list used in Southampton.

It's a rather weird document. Captain Haddock, then in charge, plus Haines, Wynn and other seamen, signed on 25 March 1912, at Southampton. At the bottom of the same page,. Lightoller, Murdoch and Blair sign on 2 April 1912 at Belfast.

According to Stephen Cameron, quite a number of people who were obviously on board, notably galley staff, never signed on at all. It seems the whole affair was rather informal.

The documents are held in the Public Records Office, Belfast, TRANS 2A/45/381A
 

Noel F. Jones

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May 14, 2002
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In the absence of specific information to the contrary I distinctly get the impression that the crew lists available here are ‘office copies’ typed up after the event either in the shore office or on board while on passage Belfast-So’ton. Such lists are needed by the owner for inter alia the disposal of allotments and advances and as a basis for personnel records.

Apropos ‘runners’, an Act of 1835 stipulated a differentiation between ‘home trade’ and ‘foreign going’ Agreements and furthermore required that a fair copy be rendered to the newly-created Registrar of Merchant Seaman. The original document necessarily being taken to sea, this amendment provided a record against the eventuality of loss of ship. This and intervening legislation was consolidated in the MSA 1894 which would have been in force in 1912.

Running agreements (note: not agreements for ‘runs’, rather agreements for multiple voyages) were introduced in 1851 under the Mercantile Marine Act Amendment Act. In 1873 a further amendment brought into being agreements for a maximum period rather than for an intended voyage.

It needs to be determined therefore which of the above four categories of agreement was opened for the Belfast-So’ton passage.

Furthermore, on the above, I would assume that taking a person to sea in any capacity without benefit of articles, passage ticket or conveyance order would be an offence under the prevailing legislation.

I do not know for how long crew agreements were archived by the Registrar but I would have thought an agreement high-profiled by such a celebrated casualty would have been retained in perpetuity as inter alia an audit of mortality and entitlements to compensation etc. (Of course we have to consider the possibility of destruction of documentation by such as fire, flood and enemy action).

In this connection, I would surmise that the Titanic Disaster Fund must have been founded upon such reliable documentation.

Unless the questions posed by the above are answered it cannot be determined that the lists of crew available here can be 100% relied upon. What is their provenance and do we in fact know if the Registrar’s copies have survived?

Noel
 
Apr 12, 2005
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The actual crew list for the Titanic's journey from Belfast to Southampton is held at the Public Record Office in Belfast, reference Trans/2A/45/381/c - I have looked at this original document several times and am in possession of photocopies of certain sections of it.

The temporary crew were enlisted in Belfast in the normal way and I quote from the front sheet - 'the said crew shall be on board this steamer on Monday morning, 1st April 1912; firemen at four o'clock, and seamen at six o'clock, and from that time until she is safely moored in one of the Southampton Docks they shall perform all work required of them by the Officers in command without any further payment than is entered against their names. Firemen to clean down after arrival and as may be required. Food and bedding will be provided on the way round to Southampton, also tickets for the return journey to Belfast.' Added on the the end of this paragraph in a lighter pen is the following, 'Five shillings per day to be paid for detention in Belfast Lough, commencing from mid-night, Monday 1st April 1912.' This was because the ship was stuck in port because of bad weather.

There then follows the listing of crew, starting with the Captain downwards, I assume in order of importance as the firemen and stokers appear towards the end of the document. I have a copy of pages 8 & 9 which shows data regarding 20 of the firemen. In the left hand column the name of each crew member is entered and as each person boarded ship he marked an 'X' beside his name, one man Stewart Rowan has a line through his name and the entry 'failed to join' added.

The next columns state for each man- his age, nationality/birth place/ name and date of last ship sailed on/ capacity in which he was engaged/ place of signing on as crew/ wage agreed/date and place of discharge and wages paid. As each crew man left the ship he again made his 'X' beside his name and the last 2 columns report on the character of each person. Everyone on page 8 & 9 have V.G. (very good) stamped 'for ability' and 'for good conduct'.

The Public Record Office in Belfast hold the ORIGINAL 'Particulars of Engagement' documents for every ship that started it's journey from Belfast from 1864 onwards whether it was engaged in 'Home Trade Only' or if it was a 'Foreign-Going Ship', these are not office copies. The Belfast - Southampton journey was considered a home trade run and therefore it is only this part of the voyage that is kept at the Public Record Office in Belfast, it does not hold the crew agreements for the Titanic's journey from Southampton, probably because it was considered a completely separate journey. The particulars of agreement/crew lists were required to be kept at the port of original departure for each journey and I assume that the Titanic's documents should have been somewhere in Southampton but because these are such famous documents I assume they are now kept at the National Archives at Kew.
 
Dec 6, 2000
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Hello Siobhan,

Yes, Titanic's documents are at the National Archives at Kew. - If you have not already seen them typed copies are on this web-site under: People; Other Groups; Crew Signing-on Sheets.
 

Noel F. Jones

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May 14, 2002
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"...'the said crew shall be on board this steamer on Monday morning, 1st April 1912; firemen at four o'clock, and seamen at six o'clock, and from that time until she is safely moored in one of the Southampton Docks they shall perform all work required of them by the Officers in command without any further payment than is entered against their names. Firemen to clean down after arrival and as may be required. Food and bedding will be provided on the way round to Southampton, also tickets for the return journey to Belfast.'"

So we may safely take it from these customised preambles (officially sanctioned endorsements) to an original document that it was a Home Trade agreement opened on form Eng 4 and that the intended venture was a 'run' between Belfast and So'ton.

It necessarily follows that a Foreign Going agreement was opened at So'ton on form Eng 1 and that the running crew were either 'repatriated' as per contract or were individually re-engaged for the ocean voyage.

It further follows that the document archived at Belfast is not to be relied upon for matters relating to the subsequent casualty.

Thank you for your respective inputs.

Noel
 
Apr 12, 2005
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Yes, this was a home trade run. The form itself is titled,

'Eng.6.
For 80 Men.
HALF-YEARLY AGREEMENT AND ACCOUNT OF VOYAGES AND CREW OF A SHIP ENGAGED IN THE HOME TRADE ONLY, and Official Log Book for a Vessel exclusively employed on the Coasts of the United Kingdom.'

My Great grandfather, John Quinn, was a member of this temporary crew (a fireman) and the family story is that he tried to sign on for the journey to the USA but the crew for that trip had already been signed up in Southampton. He returned to Belfast.
 

Noel F. Jones

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May 14, 2002
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Eng.6?

The 'half yearly' is in agreement therewith, so is the combined log book; but form Eng.6 was prescribed for home trade vessels of less than 200 gross tons(you'll understand that hereafter follows several exclamation marks).

Furthermore, the regulations require the expired document to be rendered to the shipping office within 21 days of a half-year day, that is, June 30 or December 31, whichever is the more appropriate. In the case of Titanic this is a abject nonsense; runners want their money pronto.

Form Eng.6 is a form of vessel-specific running agreement: could it be that some tyro superintendent was confused between running agreements and 'runs' and reached for the nearest document that fulfilled his perceived requirement?

And why was it thought necessary to endorse the document for an augment of pay due to a weather delay on passage? On an Eng.6 that would be a redundant exercise.

It seems to me that this running crew were engaged on the wrong documentation and the plot is thickened to that extent...

Noel