Ismay after Titanic

Kathy A. Miles

Former Member
Does anyone know where there is any reputable info on Ismay? I'm trying to find out if he sailed on White Star ships after Titanic, and if so what?
Thanks much,
Kathy
 
Kathy:
Two sources come to mind.
1) Check the Ellis Island website.
http://www.ellisislandrecords.org
2) There was a lengthy multi-part article written about Ismay that was published in "The Titanic Commutator" in the 80's. It lasted about a dozen issues. Reprints of the magazines are still available through the Titanic Historical Society.
 

Mark Baber

Staff member
Moderator
Member
Hello, Kathy---

Ismay's only transatlantic voyage after Titanic was his return from New York on Adriatic in May 1912, after testifying before the Senate Inquiry. Source: Oldham's The Ismay Line.

The Commutator articles that Mike H. mentions are by Wilton Oldham, the author of The Ismay Line. I believe, but am not 100% sure, that those articles are a distillation of the book, which is long out of print and kind of tough to find.

MAB
 

Kathy A. Miles

Former Member
Thanks, I had looked around but didn't find any references that I trusted on him. He's a curious guy is old JB. His wife certainly loved him. But I've read enough stuff about him to know he had his nasty side along with a caring side (such as when he donated to that orphanage.) Actually I would like to have met him.
Thanks again,
Kathy
 

Ian Bland

Member
He is certainly an interesting character. I also think it would be fascinating to know more of his life. After all, he hardly got a fair trial!
He was depicted by the media as cold and selfish, but I don't think ha was as cold as made out. The disaster got to him in a big way. I suppose now, we would say that he may have suffered from post traumatic stress disorder, but in 1912 he was just a 'brute'. I often think he got a raw deal from history.
 
Ian, I have to agree with you regarding Ismay's treatment. The sort of reaming he got is quite a testement to the fact that there is nothing new about trials by media. I think it was his wife that said "The Titanic ruined our lives."

Cordially,
Michael H. Standart
 
Alas, the Titanic ruined a lot of lives, some rather permanently.

Ismay was probably no where near as good as his obituary and a lot better than his depiction in the press.

--David G. Brown
 

Kathy A. Miles

Former Member
I think Ismay got a bad deal also. He was a businessman, not an engineer or deck officer. I wouldn't expect him to have the same sense of duty as the others. Given the human's sense of survival, seeing an empty seat on a descending lifeboat, it makes sense to get in. What was one more life going to prove?
I do think he had a nasty side at times though. I read in one of my Titanic books, it might have been Titanic Voices, about an encounter between Ismay and one of the band members. Apparently they had had a minor complaint about something regarding their pay, and in retaliation, Ismay made the situation worse.

I've seen no evidence that he tried to cover anything up and I think he was terribly devastated by the loss of life. I just don't see him as somone "Press hungry" enough to condone going headfirst through ice. I think it was standard practice then and Ismay simply didn't interfere.

I find far more wrong with the bahavior of people like the Duff Gordons' lack of tact.
 
As I understand the situation with the band, a union leader (I don't know whether it was a seaman's union, or a musician's union) approached Ismay sometime in early 1912 complaining that the bandmembers on White Star ships were receiving less that union wage. Ismay replied that if the bandmembers weren't happy with their wages, White Star would simply carry them as passengers rather than crew members. Thus while they received a shilling from White Star (indicating that they were under the Captain's command), they were also booked as second class passengers. Their salaries came from another company (I believe it was called Messrs. Black) that acted as an agent for them and, as I recall, had the nerve to bill Jock Hume's family after the sinking for alterations made to his uniform. I believe that Walter Lord discusses the situation in one of his books--you might try "The Night Lives On."

In any event, Ismay drove a hard bargain. Wonder if he could save Enron?
 

Mark Baber

Staff member
Moderator
Member
Or, take a look at a thread here called "Passenger Research: Musicians." On 4 October 2001 I posted an article from The New York Times dealing with the musicians' status.

MAB
 

Ian Bland

Member
Perhaps we could start the Ismay fan club. When I was in Liverpool a couple of weeks ago, I just happened to notice that there are some offices to let in the old White Star building. If we get some members, we could use it as the headquarters.................
 
Ismay Fan Club??? Sounds like an interesting plan. Would you appoint a president?
Re: Ismay's bad temper. I wondered if this may be due to his diabetes. I am fairly certain that the amputation, stroke and his eventual death was in part from it. Some of those with diabetes are known to have short, snapping tempers where they fly off the handle at seemingly little provocation, just due to their sugar being out of whack. Unfortunately I have not been able to pin down when he first was diagnosed with it.
Colleen
 

Kathy A. Miles

Former Member
I suspect that one role that the diabetes played was to make him more defensive. In those times, and sometimes now, something like diabetes was seen as a weakness. From what I have read about his father, he didn't exactly sound supportive. I personally feel that Ismay was a compassionate person, but defensive because he may have felt he was always being judged (likely from his father.) I have a few close friends with diabetes and it does affect their personalities. They have days when they just don't feel well and are more sensitive, add to that a time when treating diabetes was nowhere near what it is today and it's a virtual recipe for moodiness.

Kathy
 
Good points Kathy.
Judged by his father? More like the whole world. The cartoon of Ismay walking by, looking behind him and everyone whispering "That's Ismay" sums it up pretty well.
I'll have to look at what was actually done for diabetes in the early years, to get a better idea, but my dad has been a diabetic for 20 years, and I have seen much in the way of ups and downs, infections, sickness, gangrene, surgeries, and amputation.
Colleen
 

Kathy A. Miles

Former Member
I agree he was judged much too harshly by the entire world, but I think being judged by his father was perhaps the hardest for him to take. It's pretty awful to have your parent disapprove of you and judge you as incompetent. The stuff I've read about his father makes me think Ismay's father was a jerk. He may have been farsighted when it came to passenger liners, but he had no clue how to deal with people.
I really wouldn't be surprised that if we could meet Ismay, we'd think he was a really nice, smart guy. He might have some inferiority issues, but I think he did the best he could.
It's easy to judge him, very easy. But if we were in the exact same situation, how many would also take an empty seat in a boat? I'm not trying to say that he did this heroically, "oh I"ll be a hero and survive and fix Olympic and Brittanic." But human nature has a strong will to survive, and seeing an empty seat in a boat while standing on a sinking vessel, that's pretty hard to pass up.

Whether or not it was his duty to go down with the ship can be debated over and over. The bottom line is all it would have accomplished that I see is just another body. I think Mersey pointed that out.
Kathy
 
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