News from 1913: Ismay's Resignation from White Star


Mark Baber

Staff member
On 31 December 1912, after months of speculation, Bruce Ismay's resignation from the Presidency of IMM and the Chairmanship of White Star was officially announced in London. This article appeared the following day.

The Times (London), 1 January 1913

It is now officially announced that Mr. J. Bruce Ismay will retire from
the presidency of the International Mercantile Marine Company as from
June 30 next, and that he will be succeeded by Mr. Harold Sanderson, who
has been associated with the undertaking since its formation. The
International Mercantile Company, sometimes known as the "American
Shipping Trust," is the combination which was incorporated in 1902 to
acquire the capital of various British shipping companies, a scheme of
which Mr. J. Pierpont Morgan was the moving spirit. It now controls
the White Star, Red Star, Atlantic Transport, and the Dominion and
American lines.

The announcement of the impending resignation of Mr. Ismay follows
various rumours on the subject which have been current during the past
few months. The facts, it is stated, are that Mr. Ismay intimated in
February last his desire to retire from the position in favor of Mr.
Sanderson. Arrangements were then made for the change to take effect as
from June 30 next and for Mr. Sanderson to take six months' leave of
absence from January 1 before assuming office.

The change will necessarily include Mr. Ismay's resignation of other
positions, such as the chairmanship of the White Star Line, but he has
consented, on his resignation taking effect, to continue a member of the
board of directors of the International Mercantile Marine Company and of
the British Committee, of which the chairman is Mr. E. C. Grenfell, and
the other members are Lord Pirrie and Mr. Harold Sanderson. Mr. Ismay
will continue to act as chairman of the Asiatic Steamship Company and of
the Liverpool and London Steamship Protection Association, and as
director of the London and North-Western Railway, the Liverpool and
London and Globe Insurance Company, the Sea Insurance Company, and the
Pacific Loan and Investment Company.


Mr. J. Bruce Ismay is the eldest son of the late Thomas Henry Ismay,
J.P., D.L., founder of the White Star Line, and was born at Liverpool
in 1862. He was educated at Elstree, Harrow, and Dinard, and upon
leaving school entered the office of his father's firm (Ismay, Imrie,
and Co., managers of the White Star Line), where he served five years'
apprenticeship, shortly after completing which he went to New York as
the agent of the White Star Line. It has often been said that both Mr.
Ismay and his father could get cargoes and make profits when their
competitors were losing money. Whilst resident in New York he married,
in 1888, Julia Florence, daughter of George R. Schieffelin. Returning
to Liverpool early in the nineties, he was admitted a partner in the
firm of Ismay, Imrie, and Co., and on the death of his father, in
November, 1899, became chairman of the White Star Line, being elected
president of the International Mercantile Marine Company in 1904. Mr.
Ismay fostered, with the advent of the White Star cadet ship Mersey in
1908, a scheme for a high-class training of officers for the mercantile
marine, and he has taken a close interest in the auxiliary forces; in
order to encourage service in these forces, he has granted to members of
the staffs of the White Star and other lines under his control an extra
week's holiday annually for camp training, being the first shipowner to
show his sympathy with the movement in this manner. He is also
interested in Mr. Alfred Mosely's educational scheme, to which he has
given practical support by arranging liberal rates of passage for
British and American school teachers, enabling them to exchange visits
with the object of fostering the development of education.

Belonging to a family who have been shipbrokers for generations, Mr.
Ismay has both hereditary and developed skill in the planning of large
vessels, and an extraordinary memory enables him to retain a grip of
detail. He has the reputation of being an austere man, but his
colleagues and subordinates have discovered in him a capacity for
helping them in a quiet way, while his unostentatious generosity is also
well known.


At the time that the Titanic was lost Mr. Ismay was subjected to some
criticism for not waiting on board until the vessel foundered, but with
this criticism Lord Mersey, in the course of his report on the loss of
the vessel, expressed his complete disagreement.


Mr. Harold Arthur Sanderson was born at Birkenhead 53 years ago, and
spent the earlier part of his commercial career in New York, eventually
becoming senior partner in the shipping firm of Sanderson and Son there.
In 1895 he came to Liverpool as general manager of the White Star Line,
and was made partner in the firm of Ismay, Imrie, and Co. some few years
later. In addition to his connexion with the White Star Line and the
International Mercantile Marine Company, Mr. Sanderson is also Chairman
of the following companies: Shaw, Saviil and Albion Company (Limited),
George Thompson and Co. (Limited), the British and North Atlantic Steam
Navigation Company (Limited), and the Mississippi and Dominion Steamship
Company (Limited). He is also a director of the International
Navigation Company (Limited), the National Steamship Company (Limited),
and the Liverpool and London Steamship Protection Association (Limited).