That Murdoch hometown website


Adam McGuirk

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May 19, 2002
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Hey, I'm sure some of you all have been to the website that the people from his hometown of created. Well, in there they talk about how it made them mad when James Cameron had Murdoch commit suicide. Then they start throwing stuff of how it was definitely Wilde who committed suicide. In a way there saying it is definitely Wilde, yeah it has to be Wilde, that is just because he is not from our hometown. I'm sure that if that was the place where Wilde was from then they would say it was Murdoch, not Wilde who could have done it. I think it is unfair the way they say it has to be Wilde, not the hometown hero. There is strong evidence that Murdoch could have commited suicide. The William Murdoch they knew wasn't the William Murdoch who had the guilt of being partly responisible to ramming his ship in to an iceberg. Does anyone else agree?
 

Inger Sheil

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Dec 3, 2000
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Adam -

The Dalbeattie website has its flaws - many of which I've discussed in person with the author. I was at one point asked to assist the site's webmaster in editing the historical material, but feel that I couldn't in all conscience contribute to a site that argues either for or against a specific individual. But just a few points to correct you on.

The site does not 'definitely' say it was Wilde who committed suicide. That he was a candidate was an hypothesis thrown out by the site author, who suggested that the circumstances of 15 April 1912 compounded with grief over personal tragedy might have given him a motivation. The site's author has since modified his stance on the ideas on this, although intriguingly new evidence has recently surfaced that does speak to Wilde's state of mind in the period preceding the maiden voyage.

I disagree that there is 'strong evidence' that Murdoch could have committed suicide - I believe that most evidence relating to a purported suicide is vague and doesn't allow for the agressive advocacy of one candidate above another. Susanne Stormer, William Murdoch's biographer, will shortly be publishing a work that touches upon the question of how 'guilty' Murdoch might have felt in respect to the accident (i.e. how much personal responsibility he felt), but all such lines of thought constitute a post-mortem psych analysis that I find extremely dodgy given how little we know of the mental make-up of Murdoch. There is, in the form of Lightoller's testimony and correspondence, evidence that Murdoch was not the officer who committed suicide. Can you point to any evidence that Murdoch felt guilty enough to committ suicide? I doubt it - there is only supposition to base this on, a flimsy ground indeed. As is the statement that the William Murdoch of the morning of April 15th, 1912 was not the William Murdoch that his family, friends and acquaintances had known.

As I say, I'm against the aggresive advocacy of any one candidate - be that Murdoch, Wilde or anyone else. The evidence, as presented on Bill Wormstedt's site, does not sustain any such position. Considerable hurt has been inflicted on the Murdoch family, not only through Cameron's movie (in which the suicide allegation was coupled with bribery and an 'accidental' shooting, both of which are pure invention), but also by the follow-up attempts to push Murdoch as the candidate. I dislike seeing this as much as I would dislike seeing Wilde or his family undergoing the same treatment.
 

Dave Gittins

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Apr 11, 2001
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So much hangs on the Rheims letter describing the suicide. I'd still like to see the original instead of relying on a translation. Has the text ever been made public, preferably in facsimile?

If all the accounts of shootings are to be believed Titanic must have outdone the siege of Glenrowan. (Inger will know what I mean!)
 
Sep 20, 2000
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Inger wrote: "... intriguingly new evidence has recently surfaced that does speak to Wilde's state of mind in the period preceding the maiden voyage."

Hi, Inger: Can you elaborate further on this development? I'd like to look into it myself, if it's available in a published form. Thanks.

John
 

Inger Sheil

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Dec 3, 2000
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Lol! But was that really Dan Kelly, Dave ;-) ? (What's a body burned without recognition without a switcheroo theory, eh?). Still hoping to get the latest book on the Kelly outbreak, available widely here in the UK - would make good reading for the plane trip tomorrow.

The Wilde source hasn't been published yet, John. Senan Molony recently uncovered it, and it will be appearing in the next issue of the WSJ. No smoking gun (either literally or figuratively) I hasten to add - but it is suggestive of how little we know about the private lives and possible motivations of these individuals, and how misleading our suppositions can be.
 
Dec 4, 2000
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As both a former newsman and someone who has never investigated the Murdoch suicide allegations, I find one aspect of this ongoing debate curious...

The descriptions of two people dead on the deck and then an officer sound more like the "Gunfight At The OK Corral" than a suicide scene. There are many anecdotes about armed passengers, so a Wild West shoot-em-up could have occurred. Yet, all of the focus is on an officer's alleged suicide.

I'm not trying to suggest anything with regard to these events. However, it appears that all of the reasearch has had suicide as its predetermined conclusion. Why? It is impossible to prove suicide until the possibility of homicide has been eliminated.

--David G. Brown
 

Kyrila Scully

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Apr 15, 2001
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David, you continue to astound me with the things you come up with. Now, that is a possibility I had not considered, but why not consider it? After all, Americans have had a love affair with guns since before the American Revolution, and people carried guns all the time in those days, so perhaps a passenger may have fired a handgun either at the officer or at the crowd, perhaps panicked and hit the officer by mistake or perhaps even a ricocheted bullet struck an officer. The plot thickens and I look forward to see where this study goes from here.

Kyrila
 
Dec 4, 2000
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Whoa podner! I'm not trying to write a wild west scenario for the decks of Titanic. My only point was that suicide is only one possible explanation for the events described.

Early 20th century popular culture was in love with tragic endings. Parlor songs were often of lost loves, suicides, etc. (Think of that unfortunate pseudo-Irish song "Danny Boy.") The first thing that would pop into a writer's head would be that Murdoch committed suicide to recover his lost honor. And, that would pretty much have ended the inquiry.

Frankly, I have not seen enough factual evidence to prove anything except that rumors abound. Habeas corpus!

--David G. Brown
 

Tracy Smith

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Apr 20, 2012
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The Dalbeattie websites states: The Captain of the 'Californian, Captain Stanley Lord, was at one time an apprentice aboard the 'Iquique' and met William Murdoch.

Actually, Stanley Lord never served aboard the Iquique. He apprenticed aboard the Naiad. He first met William Murdoch in Rotterdam when both the Iquique and the Naiad were in port. Murdoch met Lord when he came aboard the Naiad for a social visit.
 

Adam McGuirk

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May 19, 2002
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One thing I didn't like about the site was the way they said that there was no way Titanic could of missed the iceberg so Murdoch did the best he could to slow the ship down when the collision came. They are basically covering up that if he wouldn't have reversed the engines then they might have missed the berg all together.
 
C

Cassandra Crowther

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This whole thing just keeps getting more and more and more fascinating as time goes on. Inger, will you please keep us abreast of developments, especially the info. from WSJ?
 
Dec 6, 2000
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Adam:

First, there is discussion that he may not have reversed the engines at all. As I recall it, it would make no sense for an experienced seaman to reverse engines, since it would alter the ability of the ship to turn.

Also, reversing the engines would have caused quite a lot of vibration in the stern of the ship - which was not reported by passengers or crew.
 
Dec 2, 2000
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As Bill said, the question of whether Murdoch actually reversed the engines is a highly debatable one. There is very little supporting evidence for it from first hand sources. Hitchens alluded to it...albit reluctantly in the British Inquiries. And Boxhall's testimony is ex post facto in that he said he heard Murdoch saying that to Captain Smith. To my knowladge, nobody from the engine room backs it up, and several who were on watch lived to offer testimony.

Murdoch may have intended to do such at some point. There's no way of telling, but I'm convinced that he never got the chance. Had the ship reversed engines, the cavitation of the screws would have raised a racket that would have been both memorable and deafening. Having served on ships with much more advanced screw designs then anything that existed in 1912, I can testify to that from personal experience.

That in the end is yet another oddity in the Titanic's story. The chain of events that killed the ship breezed by so quickly and so smoothly that most of the people aboard slept right through it!

Cordially,
Michael H. Standart
 
Dec 2, 2000
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Adam, you might want to check out some of the technically oriented folders and threads for discussion on that. You might also want to check out the White Paper that David Brown and Parks Stephenson wrote on the subject at http://home.flash.ne t/~sparks12/wp.html

After that, you might want to read over David Brown's book which is titled "The Last Log Of The Titanic". IMO, both the White Paper and the book do an excellant job of pointing out the problems of the sideswipe theory which is still much en vogue

Cordially,
Michael H. Standart
 
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Cassandra Crowther

Guest
Yes, that's a great book, and my kudos to Capt. Brown for a fascinating look into what may well have happened.
 
Feb 21, 2003
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Um...Michael, I just now tried Clicking onto that link, but got an error page instead. Are you sure it's a still working page?
alert.gif
 

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