John Wesley Woodward


Stephanie Jenkins

I have clicked newsgroups, but in fact found you from a feature in the 'Oxford Mail' (local evening newspaper) that sang your praises. Your website is so clever, and easy to use. I have been trying to find out where in Windmill Road the Titanic cellist John Wesley Woodward lived, as there is no record of any houses called 1 and 2 The Firs, which is where you say he lived. Where did you get all your information? Only one criticism: you keep spelling Magdalen College with an 'e' at the end in the entry for John Wesley Woodward; it only has an 'e' if it is in Cambridge.

Stephanie Jenkins
Oxford, England

Brian Meister

Hello Mickey,

Thank you for posting your concern about the
Woodward headstone. There are, unfortunately,
several examples of crumbling gravestones that
I have seen in my considerable Titanic/Lusitania
headstone search.
I hope that the instinct that called you
to bring this fact to light, will also call
you to transcribe the inscription on the
stone and post it here before it is lost
forever. I am sure that Phil Hind will add
it to his biography.

Iain Stuart Yardley

Well bugger me, I never knew John Woodward was born in West Bromwich. I knew about the three Davis brothers and James Lester but this one seems to have passed me by. Thanks Mickey, I'll pay a visit to West Brom, only "up the road" the next time I have a day off.



Mick Thornes mickey

Woodward headstone in heath lane cemetery west bromwich reads as follows;in loving memory of joseph woodward, roland ernest son of above fell asleep 11 september 1893, also john wesley woodward beloved son of above who went down with the titanic playing nearer my god to thee april 15th 1912 aged 32 yrs. The rest of the stone is already illegible

Iain Stuart Yardley


On Saturday I tried to locate the memorial to Titanic musician John Wesley Woodward in West Bromwich. I walked about three miles in boiling hot sunshine before arriving at the gates of Heath Lane Cemetery. I took one look and decided that maybe today wasn't the day I was going to find it. The cemetery was huge and I didn't have a clue where to start looking. Another try this weekend, a bit better prepared.



Ernie Luck

When my wife and I spent a few days in Eastbourne, Sussex, last summer I noticed in the bandstand a memorial to John Wesley Woodward, one of the musicians on the Titanic.

There is not much information on him in the biography section and I thought I would investigate his background. I don't want to re-invent the wheel so I would be interested to hear if more is known of him.

Brian (Ticehurst) is, I believe, the expert on memorials so I would grateful, if he sees this, if he would comment.

Brian, We did take some photos or do you have some?
Brian J. Ticehurst

Brian J. Ticehurst

Ernie - Hi, Reference Mr. Woodward I have just added the below to Mr. W's Biography - please read it all and remember 'you did ask'.
By the way I do have plenty of photographs thanks.
Best regards Brian

Woodward, Jack Wesley. Lived at The Firs, Windmill Road, Headington, Oxfordshire. Occupation - Orchestra (Pianist).

(From Titanic Memorials World-wide - Where They are Located)
Named on the Musicians Memorial at the Old Library site, London Road, Southampton.
also named on the St Marys Church Musicians Memorial, St Marys, Southampton.
also he is mentioned on a plaque in the lobby of the Boston Symphony Orchestra (Symphony Hall) Boston, Massachusetts.
also remembered by a broken column memorial at Broken Hill, Australia.
also remembered by a Memorial Bandstand in Ballaratt, Australia.
also there is a painting by C. Robinson dedicated to the Titanic Musicians in Leeds City Art Galleries, Yorkshire.
also named on the Musicians Memorial in Liverpool Philharmonic Hall.
also there was a memorial to the bandsmen at the Institute of the National Orchestra Association, Archer Street, London, W, unveiled on the 17th July by Mr. Landon Ronald, Principal of the Guildhall School of Music.
also at Eastbourne, Sussex, opposite the Central Bandstand and Grand Parade there is a fine memorial to John Wesley Woodward, it has three panels, one shows the Titanic sinking, the second shows a portrait of Mr. Woodward, and the third has the inscription ''This tablet is erected as a tribute to the self sacrifice and devotion of John Wesley Woodward (formerly member of the Eastbourne Municipal Orchestra, the Duke of Devonshire's Orchestra and the Grand Hotel, Eastbourne, Orchestra) who, with others of the hero musicians of the ship's band, perished in the Atlantic through the sinking of the White Star liner, Titanic on April 15th, 1912''.
also there is a memorial tablet in St. Mark's Church, Dewsbury to the Titanic's bandsmen. It reads:
This tablet was erected over the Churchwardens' pew by Canon Rawnsley of Keswick School of Art, to the memory of the Titanic disaster off Cape Race, April 14th, 1912, in which 1,517 people lost their lives:
''With thanks to God for the memory of the brave bandsmen who perished at the post of duty on the steamship Titanic, 14th April, 1912''
Nearer My God to Thee
also named on a brass and wooden plaque in the Liverpool City Mission, Jubilee Drive, Edge Hill, Liverpool (this plaque was originally in the Beacon Hall, Wavertree Road, Edge Hill, Liverpool). The plaque reads:
To the Glory of God and in Memory of W. Hartley (leader), R. Bricoux, W. T. Brailey, J. F. C. (sic) Clarke, J. L. Hulme (sic) , G. Krins, P. C. Taylor, J. W. Woodward.
Musicians of the S. S. Titanic who lost their lives in the sinking of that vessel on 15th April 1912.
This Tablet is Erected by public Subscription
Nearer My God to Thee
There is a memorial plaque to Mr. Woodward in All Saints Church, Lime Walk, Headington, Oxford:
The Inscription reads:
ON APRIL 15 1912.
BORN SEPT: 11, 1879.

(From the Eastbourne Gazette April 21st 1912)
Woodward - April 14, J. Wesley Woodward, a member of the Titanic orchestra, and formerly 'cellist in the Eastbourne Municipal Band and the Duck of Devonshire's Eastbourne orchestra.

(From: Mansion House Titanic Relief Fund Booklet, March 1913). Case number 685. Woodward, Martha, mother. Woodward, Herbert Edward, Brother. Both Class F dependants.

(From The Oxford Times, Saturday, April 20, 1912)
Local Passengers on the Titanic
Among those it is feared have lost their lives on the ill-fated vessel, is Mr. Wesley Woodward, of Oxford. Mr. Woodward was the youngest son of Mr. Woodward, of Headington, and a brother of Mr. T. W. Woodward, the well-known tenor singer of Magdalen College choir, living in Oakthorpe Road, Oxford. Mr. Wesley Woodward left Oxford about a fortnight ago to join the Titanic as a member of the ship's orchestra. He had previously made several journey across the Mediterranean, so that he was quite a seasoned sailor. He was well-known as a cello player, having appeared in several solos and string quartet's, notably with the Misses Price and Mr. H. M. Dowson. A few years ago Mr. Woodward became attached to the White Star Company's liners, and has been with them ever since. He was recognised as one of their most able musicians, and is exceedingly popular with everyone with whom he came into contact. He was 32 years of age, unmarried, and devoted to his mother.

(From the Oxford Illustrated, Wednesday, April 24, 1912).
MR WOODWARD was the youngest son of Mrs Woodward of Headington, and a brother of Mr. T. W. Woodward, the well-known tenor singer of Magdalen College Choir, living in Oakthorpe Road, Oxford. Mr. Wesley Woodward left Oxford about a fortnight ago to join the Titanic as a member of the ship's orchestra. He had previously made several journeys across the Atlantic, and three across the Mediterranean, so that he was quite a seasoned sailor. He was on board the Olympic, sister ship to the Titanic, when she collided with HMS Hawke, and had a narrow escape of losing his life, for he was in the cabin with three colleagues just where the Hawke struck, and it was only with the greatest difficulty that a rescue was accomplished. He was well-known as a ''Cello player'', having appeared in several solos and string quartets, notably with the Misses Price and Mr. H. M. Dowson. A few years ago he left Oxford to take up a position in the Duke of Devonshire's band at Eastbourne. When that enterprise fell through some three years ago Mr. Woodward became attached to the White Star Company's liners, and has been with them ever since. he was recognised as one of their most able musicians, and was exceedingly popular with everyone with whom he came into contact. He was 32 years of age, unmarried, and devoted to his mother who lives at The Firs, Windmill Road, Headington. Oxfordshire. UK.

Probate Report: Woodward, John Wesley, of ''The Firs'' Windmill Road, Headington, Oxfordshire. Administration: London 6th June, 1912 to Martha Woodward, Widow. Effects £1195.3.5d.

(From The Free Press, West Bromwich April 26th 1912.)
The Titanic Fund
During the last week it has transpired that one of the bandsmen on board the Titanic was a man named J. W. Woodward, who was born and educated at Hill Top, West Bromwich.
Woodward's father was at one time manager of the Hill Top Foundry, and Woodward as a boy attended the Hill Top Wesley Sunday School. Subsequently, the family removed to Oxford, where some of them still live.
Afterwards the deceased removed to Liverpool. He was the 'cellist of the Titanic band.
We therefore may reckon that five of the sons of West Bromwich were among the victims of the disaster. A week ago we published a short list of subscriptions, and intimated that we should be glad to receive and forward to the Lord Mayor of London any further contributions that might be made to the fund for the widows, orphans, and dependants of the men who perished in the disaster. We have since received the following: Mr. and Mrs. Donald Miller 10s 0d.

(From the Eastbourne Gazette, April 24th 1912)
One of the best known among the hero musicians of the Titanic was Mr. J. Wesley Woodward, son of Mrs. Woodward, of The Firs, Windmill Road, Headington, Oxford, who was one of the violoncelle players of the Duke of Devonshire's Eastbourne Orchestra. Mr. Woodward who was a native of Hilltop, West Staffordshire, was an experienced musician, and although he was only a little over 30 years of age he was qualified to take a leading position in any orchestra.. A brilliant soloist he had a very extensive repertoire, and his services were always in request when chamber music had to be performed.
He first came into prominence as a member of the Eastbourne Municipal Orchestra, afterwards joining the Von Leer Orchestra, at the Grand Hotel Eastbourne. As a member of the Duke of Devonshire's orchestra he won the reputation of being one of the most useful members of that well-known combination, the dissolution of which was a source of keen regret to the inhabitanta. On leaving Eastbourne Mr. Woodward proceeded to Jamaica where he gave some chamber concerts and won much appreciation as a soloist. Like other artista who visit the island, he experienced great hospitality and kindness, his sunny disposition rendering him a favourite wherever he went.
Mr. Woodward was deeply interest in engineering, and spent hours in a workshop where he constructed motors and other appliances. Probably his liking for mechanical pursuits had something to do with his decision to obtain an appointment as a member of the orchestra on an Atlantic liner. The first position he filled afloat was on board the Olympic; and he was on the steamer at the time she collided with HMS Hawke. At the moment when the two vessels struck each other, Mr. Woodward and a friend were playing draughts in the next cabin away from the actual point of contact, and he sated that they were so little alarmed that they continued the game. During the past winter Mr. Woodward had been on the Cunarder Caronia, which sailed from Liverpool to New York, and then commenced a series of voyages from America to the Mediterranean, proceeding as far east as Alexandria. Returning to England, he joined the orchestra of the Titanic, but his intention was to quit the sea at the end of the coming summer and seek an appointment in the Devonshire Park Orchestra.
Mr. Woodward thoroughly enjoyed his life on board ship, and the opportunities he had of visiting New York where he made many friends. He had a very high opinion of the Americans as lovers of music. A skilful amateur photographer, he never threw away a good opportunity of securing a really interesting picture. When he was at one of the Mediterranean ports he snapped an Arab in the act of shaving a boy's head outside a Mosque, and the Mussulman manifested the indignation prompted by the well-known scruples of his co-religionists.
Mr. Woodward was unmarried, but was engaged to a young lady resident in London. One of his brothers is the leading tenor in the choir of Magdalen College Chapel, and the fact of his filling this appointment caused the deceased's mother to take up her residence in a suburb of Oxford.
He was a young man of an extremely agreeable and modest bearing, amiable, good-natured, of a sunny disposition, and an easy, equable temper that secured him many friends. He was a licentiate of the Royal Academy of Music, and his 'cello playing was always marked by refinement and musicianship; on several occasion he exhibited brilliant qualities as a solo excentant; but he excelled rather as an orchestral player than as a soloist. His orchestral playing was uniformly sound, steady and reliable; while these same invaluable qualities, conjoined with much natural taste and a cultured style, enable him to appear to utmost advantage in chamber music. He was a through and conscientious musician, whose playing, whether in solos or concerted work, was always interesting and always enjoyable. When the Duke of Devonshire's Orchestra broke up Mr. Woodward decided to accept an engagement with the White Star Line after he had taken a brief trip to America; for the change and variety of these trans-Atlantic journeys appealed to him, and he found that his health had gained considerably by the sea voyages.
In one of the short intervals between these crossings I saw him recently, and I remember he spoke in the highest terms of appreciation of the work he was engaged upon; he did not, of course, intend to remain permanently in this kind of employment; but he enjoyed the luxurious trips to and from America, and he was extending his experiences in useful and pleasant distractions. Fortunately there was no premonition then of the final catastrophe that these experiences were fated to lead to; he was full of hope and life and spirits, looking forward confidently to the future, and quite content with the present. To his relations and friends, and to all who knew him, grief at this young musician's death must ever be tinged with a glow of pride at the manner of it. The name of Wesley Woodward will never now be forgotten.
During his residence in Eastbourne Mr. Woodward resided with Mr. George Stevens at Leathorpe, Upper-avenue; and on the occasion of his recent visits deceased called to see Mr. William J. Read (leader of the Duke's Orchestra), Mr. Peilgen, jun., Mr. S. Wardingley and others. There was a very close friendship between Mr. Woodward and Mr. Read on account of their association with the Midlands.
It may be stated that as a teacher of the 'cello, Mr. Woodward met with considerable success.

(From the Eastbourne Gazette 1st May 1912)
Hero Musicians
Suggested memorial to Mr. J. W. Woodward
The Titanic Disaster
While the horror of the Titanic disaster is still fresh in the public mind, and the nation is contributing with an almost unexampled generosity to funds for the survivors and the families of the crew, would it not be as well to give a little thought to those who did not survive? This question finds some response in the feeling which has been expressed in several quarters that a memorials should be erected in Eastbourne to Mr. J. Wesley Woodward, a member of that heroic orchestra, who went down with the ship.
Such would be a fitting tribute to a gallant Eastbourne musician, and at the same time perpetuate the memory of the many other heroic deeds performed by the other brave men who perished on that occasion.
It may be mentioned here that the Belgians are already commencing a memorial in honour of the Belgian member of the Titanic's orchestra; and there Belgians set such an example it would be some reproach for Englishmen not to follow it.
A memorial to Mr. Wesley Woodward, who was so well known and so deservedly popular for so long a time in the town, would, we feel sure, be welcomed by all residents, musical and non-musical alike, to whom heroism and devotion to duty appeal as qualities deserving of honour.
The memorial should preferably be placed either on the Sea front or in the vicinity of the Devonshire Park; and the sculpture should be of a graceful and artistic character, symbolical of music, and above all, with no funeral features about it.
The cost of erection ought not to prove prohibitive, and the sum necessary should be subscribed without difficulty. The many musicians of reputation and ability in the town would not, we think, hesitate to come forward in support of any such scheme; and once the subscription is opened others would, unless we are greatly mistaken, extend a ready support also.
Nearly a quarter of a million pounds have already been subscribed to the Titanic fund. Without wishing to cast any reflections on the praiseworthy objects of the fund, we may be allowed to comment on a certain disproportion which naturally occurs to the practical mind between the amount and the number of widows of the crew who are mainly to benefit by it.
When one considers also that the legal compensation in each case will be (it is stated) an additionally £300 for each person, one cannot help thinking that these destitute widows will not after all fare so badly.
From a financial and not a sentimental point of view their position will probably be better now than before. Surely then a very small percentage of these collected sums might worthily be devoted to the erection of some fitting memorials to those who perished nobly with the vessel and left no destitute relations behind them?

Ernie Luck


You don't know too much about him then!! I am joking of course. The memorial at Eastbourne is suffering a bit due to it's proximity to the sea and being made of cast-iron panels. My impression was that it was not as well cared for as the Southampton memorials.

I got as far as finding John Woodward on the 1881, 1891, and 1901 census's this PM so I am glad I checked before doing anymore. Those newspaper articles are a mine of information.

Thanks very much for the information, both my children are musicians, my daughter, is a professional baroque chamber music player.

Regards Ernie


There is a memorial grave stone in heath lane cemetery west bromwich west midlands .for john wesley woodward

David Powner

Re: John Wesley Woodward

Family history relates that JWW was the father of Laura Ellen, conceived when he was playing in a string quartet in a Buxton hotel.

He is therefore very likely to be my maternal grandfather, and his own family may wish to know that he has descendants.

They may also wish to confirm the veracity of this statement by checking any genealogical data, or records of his whereabouts at the appropriate time.
Stanley C Jenkins

Stanley C Jenkins

John Wesley Woodward, the cellist in the Titanic's orchestra, is sometimes depicted in films such as A Night to Remember as a monocle-wearer, and I am wondering if this is accurate. The only picture that I can find does, indeed, appear to show him wearing a monocle in his right eye?
Stanley C Jenkins

Stanley C Jenkins

Thank you Bob. I think the actor who portrayed John Woodward in A Night to Remember wore a monocle, and indeed looked very much like the real John Wesley Woodward.
Encyclopedia Titanica

Encyclopedia Titanica

Philip Hind
Staff member
Ii is the most memorable scene from every Titanic movie ever made, the string ensemble who took their instruments on to the deck and heroically played on as the waves lapped around their ankles.

It's not just artistic licence from Hollywood directors there are plenty of eyewitness accounts to vouch for the fact that it actually happened when the ship went down in 1912 But for one Bristol teenager the scene is particularly poignant.

For 13 year old Charlotte Woodward discovered just last year that her own great great uncle was the cellist with the doomed ensemble.

John Wesley Woodward Charlottes great great grandfather's brother was just 32 years old when he went down with the doomed White Star liner. Now Charlotte has a unique opportunity to pay tribute to her forefather. She has inherited the musical gene and plays violin with the Bristol Schools Concert Orchestra one of the local school bands that has been chosen to take part in a special centenary remembrance concert | Bristol Evening Post