On The Subject of the Accuracy of Titanic's Passenger List

A few days ago I posted a message concerning two passengers, William Gillespie and Marius Peterson. I believe that there is sufficient evidence to question whether either man sailed. So far, nobody has replied either on list or privately. Perhaps I need to qualify my opinions.

I am aware that William Gillespie's mother received money from the Mansion House Fund, but to me that is not proof that he sailed, merely that he was believed at that time to have sailed. I am not aware of any documentary evidence that he did and the White Star Line contract ticket list shows that he received a refund. If this man sailed, why did he receive a refund?

The administrators of the Mansion House fund ultimately relied upon information obtained by the Registrar of Shipping & Seamen in London, when deciding who was entitled to receive money. The RGSS certainly conducted far-reaching enquiries in accordance with their legal responsibilities but their conclusion as to who sailed and subsequently died or survived was only as good as the information they were given at the time. One small slip and William Gillespie could have ended up in the wrong column, and his 'case' would have been closed -- died, no further enquiries. Again I have to ask - if William Gillespie sailed, WHY did he receive a refund and who therefore paid his fare?? Why is no payment shown in the White Star Line's financial record of tickets purchased? Did he travel gratis? If so, why?

Marius Peterson/en also received a refund, less a small amount representing the commission - in today's jargon, a 'booking fee.' There is no evidence that he sailed.. no body was found and his full identity appears to be unknown. I don't believe he set foot on board. No payment was made from the Mansion House Fund and again... if he did sail, why did he receive a refund and who paid his fare??

I'm not entirely sure why my original posting didn't receive a single response, when it seems to be such an important issue. I can't believe it is apathy! We are all in this together - it may be 90 years, but the research is still continuing and new information is appearing all the time. Is my opinion so ridiculous that it doesn't warrant a reply?

I am concerned that some of the problem may lie in the fact that anyone who does not possess a FULL copy of the Contract Ticket List from NARA, may not have the faintest idea what I am talking about!

If you have a small-sized copy, comprising only the passenger names, then you do NOT have the full document! The complete document comprises left-hand sheets with names and other information, and right-hand sheets containing the financial analysis. Both are vital. Anyone with a small sized left-hand sheet (normal office paper size....and I know there are a number of people who fall into this category who had earlier believed that they had the full document) does NOT have the full document. The left-hand sheet ends with a column headed 'refunds.' This column is vital! That is where I am obtaining the information that these people were given refunds. At least three of the most active writers/researchers on this message board have already discovered to their horror that they do not have a full copy! NARA clearly has supplied only what they considered people required, when fulfilling requests for copies of the Contract Ticket List.

Like I said, I recieved not one single reply to my original posting. We are all very busy people but I do feel that if we are accurately to represent this amazing and tragic story to the rest of the world then we have to be sure for ourselves exactly who died and who survived, and who we are not really sure about.

If you think I am wrong, please do write and tell me so! I'm very thick skinned! Surely we need to bounce ideas from each other, especially in cases like this. If you think I am totally, irreversibly cracked, please write and tell me that too!
Dear Debbie,

I am not altogether sure that I am convinced
that these men did not sail based on the fact
of the WSL booking list. I do, in fact, have
the entire booking list, left and right pages
and I see the point you are making about the
refunds having been posted.
However, there are only two people in 2nd
class who received refunds. One is Gillespie,
who is mentioned in Senan Molony's book about
the Irish who apparently convinced family and
friends that he was dead as they spared no
time is collecting funds for the family in
their bereavement. Disappeared without a trace?;
I don't agree.
The 2nd person was Mrs Amelia Lemore, at the
top of the same page; a survivor. This sort of
kills the theory that anyone who received a
refund did not sail, as I have plenty of
evidence placing her on board, and surviving.
Moving to Marius Petersen in 3rd Class,
the refund arguement really loses steam here
if you consider that several people received
refunds, and it looks to me that the non-
British subjects list is rife with figures
that resemble refund figures, i.e. 16.0 (pounds,
In conclusion, I wonder if there were not
at least a couple of other reasons for the
rebate. What if they switched classes at the
last minute? What if they had some other
consideration afforded them at the time.
Some could have been inconvenienced in some
way and offered a token rebate?
I have the Mansion House and American Red
Cross Relief Fund disbursement and case
histories logs, and both appear to have had
case workers who investigated the alleged needs
of the families left behind. I would find it
surprising that they would make rash judgements
concerning the survival of the people they
were investigating. In one case, a Frenchman
was determined to have lied about the conditions
of his entry into the US, and statements about
his deportation were included for the record.
In many cases, it seems that a seemingly
contemporaneous refund would not equate with
a weeks-long process of investigation.

My silence on the issue was not out of
apathy or disrespect, Debbie. I am the proud
owner of your new book. Speaking for myself,
I waited until I had time to weigh what I saw.

Best Regards,

Brian Meister
Hello Brian

Thank you so much for your response. I was feeling incredibly lonely out here! It was a great pleasure to meet you in Southampton after our previous correspondence. It was such a pity that we didn't have time to talk for longer.

I have to correct you however, and after you have been so kind to me, I do feel bad about that

It's this old-fashioned British thing!

The 'refund' column is divided into three 'sub' columns which - for the non-Brits - signifies LSD...pounds, shillings and pence. Mrs Amelia Lemore did certainly receive a refund... but of only 16 shillings as did many others, so only a tiny proportion of what she originally paid. Certainly nowhere nearing the amount of her ticket cost. Almost certainly that can be explained away by a small reduction in the services or facilities that she received. It certainly doesn't represent a refund of her ticket money, or any significant part thereof. So, I don't have any problem with placing her fairly and squarely on board. Her refund was only a tiny amount and represented some small reduction in services on board.

You said:

Moving to Marius Petersen in 3rd Class,
the refund arguement really loses steam here
if you consider that several people received
refunds, and it looks to me that the non-
British subjects list is rife with figures
that resemble refund figures, i.e. 16.0 (pounds,

You believe that the 'refund' argument loses steam with the evidence of Marius Peterson. I disagree absolutely. We need to look at the exact amounts refunded and with the greatest respect Brian, I have to suggest that you are in error.

On one point I'll agree absolutely... a considerable number of people received refunds. However, the figures are 16 shillings, not 16 pounds. For the non-Brits among us.. in pre-decimalisation days, there were 12 pence to the shilling, and 20 shillings to the pound. That means that a refund of 16 shillings was almost inconsequential when considering the full price of a ticket. It certainly should not be construed as a signficant refund on the cost of a ticket.

Certainly I don't believe that a single rash judgement was made. I do believe however that despite all the careful enquiries, there was room for error. All my points need to be taken into account. My earlier posting reflected my disappointment that such important issues were apparently being overlooked. I have the greatest respect for your research, Brian, as you are already aware, and I greatly appreciate your input. We are all very busy people and I am very grateful for the time you have spared.
Debbie and Brian, this may be carrying coals to Newcastle, but I dug up some material that might help.

On a list prepared on April 10th and signed by Captain Smith, of passengers boarding at Southampton, William Gillespie is listed as contract ticket 12233. He is ticked off as second class.

On the same document, Marius Petersen (spelled Danish style) is listed as third class, contract ticket 342441. By his name there is only a dot, as if he failed to appear.

On a list of passengers prepared August 15th 1912, Gillespie is listed among the dead. Petersen does not appear. This seems to support Debbie’s contention that Petersen did not sail.

The documents show Gillespie as an Irish law clerk, aged 34. Petersen is shown as Danish born but a resident of England. He was a dairyman, aged 24.

For what it’s worth, Gillespie is listed as lost on the report of the US inquiry. Petersen does not appear at all.

How big a refund did Petersen receive? Was it practically all his fare? If so, it seems clear that he stayed home.

The value of the sixteen-shilling refund depends on who you were. It was more than a steward’s weekly wage and would have bought the same steward two pairs of boots. I wonder whether it represents the difference between a four-berth cabin and a six-berth, or something like that.
Hi Dave,

You refer to a Passenger List dated the 15th of August 1912. Is this a PRO document or some other List? If a PRO document can you please cite the document number? Also are you looking at a full Passenger List or a List of Deceased Passengers? If the latter I think that you will find that it is just that the name of Marius Petersen is slightly out of place. On 100/260 he is No 683; the other Petersens are on the previous page; numbers 675; 676; 677. On 9/920/201 which is dated 13 May 1912. he is also slightly out of place.

If a full Passenger List then as with both the US Senate [Petersen is on that List] and WS Lists Petersen should be listed in the Other Than Foreign [British] 3rd Class section; not the Scandinavian and Contintental [non-British] section.

You ask about fares. For 2nd Class all berths except for the outside rooms on D-deck were 13 pounds per adult passenger. The outside rooms on D-deck were 13 pounds 10s.
For 3rd Class the fare system seems to depend on where you travelled from. This seems to mean that unlike 1st and 2nd Class rail fares were included in at least some of the fares. At least that is how I understand it. In case it helps for the Return Maiden voyage, I refer you to an advertizement in the Illustrated edition of ANTR. If you do not have access I can e-mail you a copy.

Outward bound according to an advertizement the fare from Southampton, London, Liverpool was 7 pounds 9s; from Queenstown 6 pounds 10s.
But since Petersen [who I understand came from London] originally paid 8 pounds 1s; it looks as if he was charged an extra 12s. But what for? - even a 1st Class Rail Fare from London was only 11s or 10s depending in the rate of the Ocean Fare.

In her book Debbie lists a refund of 6 pounds for Petersen.

I hope this helps.
Hi Dave (and hello again Lester)

Thank you for yours. May I explain a little about the Board of Trade list - the one signed by EJ Smith - and those ticks or dots. These marks are not a reliable indication of whether a passenger was on board, even though their presence is highly suggestive in many cases. Many other contemporary lists have similar marks, but a lot do not. Additionally, some of Titanic's passengers had earlier been booked on Olympic which sailed on 3 April - their names are ticked on Olympic's list though sometimes there is an additional crossing out or note of some kind. One example is Bertha Ilett, whose name is ticked on Olympic's list and nothing is added to the effect that she didn't sail. The other problem is that although Smith signed the Board of Trade list to the effect that it was a correct list of passengers on board, he seems to have done the paperwork a day earlier.. he wasn't alone in that; many of his colleagues did exactly the same. So the ticks and other marks are part of a different clerical checking process and weren't done as the passengers boarded.

Petersen's refund was 6 pounds 5 shillings. The Contract Ticket List has two separate columns for refunds.. both on the left hand sheets (but anyone with a small sized copy seems to be missing the second of the two columns). In most sheets, the printed wording in the first of the two columns - 'No. of Inland Ticket'- has been crossed out, and the words 'supplementary refunds' handwritten over it. Most of the 16/- (16 shillings) refunds appear in that column. The page including Petersen's entry has a 16/- supplementary refund noted there for Reynolds. But as well as Petersen,it also has two other refunds noted in the final column, which has a printed heading 'Refunds.' The Sage family received a refund of 8 pounds 16 shillings. I believe that is because some of the children were accidentally entered as adults and presumably charged accordingly. The CTL shows traces of partially erased marks in the 'A' (adult) column for William, Ada and Constance, later corrected, and I think refunded accordingly. Bevan comes next, with a refund for unknown reasons, of 16/- Unlike most of the other 16/- refunds, it appears in the main Refund column, not the 'Supplementary Refund' column.

Lester, you say:

"But since Petersen [who I understand came from London] originally paid 8 pounds 1s; it looks as if he was charged an extra 12s. But what for? - even a 1st Class Rail Fare from London was only 11s or 10s depending in the rate of the Ocean Fare."

When you get your right-hand sheets you'll see that there are columns filled in showing the amount of commission money paid, forwarding money, amount paid for board, and a column showing nett passage money. In Petersen's case, (and the others who also paid 8 pounds 1 shilling), 6/- commission and 6/- forwarding was included in the total ticket price. The amounts vary for other passengers. I imagine that the money which a passenger actually handed over was the advertised cost of the ticket, plus these additional variable amounts.


Dear Debbie,

Firstly, after having read my original post,
I realize that there are a couple things that
I need to clarify. I understand that the old
measurement of English money was pounds,
shillings, pence, and my reference to that in
the post was not for Petersen or any other
specific passenger, I was merely noting the
columns I saw.
Secondly, I am not sure that this "tick"
thing by the name means anything at all.
The accuracy of these lists are suspect when
I have personally seen Capatin Smith's signature
on a June 1912 sailing record!
As Lester points out, Marius Petersen's
name is on the deceased passenger roll, and
makes every list afterward from the Titanic
Inquiry in America to the register of deaths
at sea. I believe something with his ticket
was botched, or something happened that we
will never know, ever, and he went to his
death with the other 1497.
I wish this could be more clear, as I have
argued vociferously about this erroneous 2223
passengers and crew tally, but fear it will
take going to our final reward to get the

Would love to see what you find.....
thanks for the good read....

Hello. To the best of my knowledge, both Petersen and Gillespie were in fact on board. They are both included in the White Star Line passenger list, revised 6 June 1912. Marius Petersen, a Danish subject, was a dairy worker on his way to America.

Best regards,