Thanks to all, especially David, for their responses to my questions. I've got to move along, as I have a busy week ahead.
I should mention that the age of E J Smith is often referenced as he bing 59 years old. I have no idea where this came from as he clearly was born 27 January 1850.
So that is where that fallacy originated from. I had wondered why so many authors got it wrong!Smith gave his age as 59 when he signed on to Titanic. Oddly enough, he gave his age correctly when he signed onto Olympic the year before (he was then aged 61).
Maybe it was common for folks to lie about their ages back then. Could it have had something to do with retirement? By lying about his age E J Smith could work longer before reaching a mandatory age?
That's interesting. I didn't know that was issue in those days. I knew people would lie about there age in days gone bye but it was usually on the other end of the scale. As in young guys lying to get in the army/navy during wars. It was a practice that 15/16 year olds would write 18 on a slip of paper and put it in their shoe. That way they could swear they were "over 18". Common during the civil war or so I've read. But what you wrote does make sense. 60 in 1912 probably equal to an 80 year old today as far as life spans go.I doubt it. White Star were aware of Smith's age and he was already giving his age as 60 in 1910 when he signed onto Adriatic and then 61 in 1911 when he signed onto Olympic.
In later years, White Star had a policy of mandatory retirement at the end of the year in which the officer turned sixty. In 1929, for example, Olympic lost both her commander and chief engineer for this reason. However, that does not seem to have been the case in 1912. Had it been in force, Smith would have had to retire at the end of 1910 at the latest.