The Unnamed Pilot of the Titanic

E

Elaine Booth

Guest
The Unnamed Pilot of the Titanic
Elaine Booth - elaine01@charter.net


The Pilot mentioned in the excerpt below; but not named, is Henry James Evans (1865-1938) (my great-grandfather). He was a Master Mariner and a White Star pilot from 1889 - 1919. I have a picture of him from a newspaper clipping, boarding the Titanic in Queenstown. This information and the clipping is from an album that belonged to his son William Worrall Evans (1900-1995) who was a twelve-year-old boy at the time, and remembers his father as the Pilot and found the newspaper picture. The Pilot was the last one to leave the ship before it sank. We have found no written records naming him as the pilot. My grandfather frequently mentioned the fact that his father was the last one to get off the ship before it sank and that the sinking of the Titanic was very much a matter of family discussion at the time. The picture of Henry Evans from the newspaper and other pictures of him that are part of the family album may be requested. The files are too large to be attached.

Extract of Titanic Chronology Compiled by Addision Hart Posted on Wednesday, 4 April, 2001 - 3:34 pm: --this is a one day excerpt from the chronology - Thursday, April 11th

The first full day at sea on Titanic's maiden voyage. The Titanic was moving at a speed of 21 knots that morning. Early that morning, the ship's compass was upgraded. Soon she passed the Daunt Light Vessel and brought aboard the Pilot. An emergency full dress rehearsal was held with the alarm bells sounding and watertight doors closing. . .

At 11:30, the ship was lying at anchor in Queenstown harbor as the tenders America and Ireland arrived alongside. The press was allowed aboard and onto the Officers' Promenade Decks. One reporter got Capt. Smith and Purser McElroy to pose next to the Captain's Quarters for a photograph. The First Class Promenade Deck was full of Irish linen merchants. . .

At 1:30, the anchor was raised and the ship left, stopping once at the Daunt Light Vessel to drop off the PILOT. She left, passing the Old Head of Kinsale on her way through St. George Channel.

Does anyone have other information or references about this Pilot? I would be interested in anything that might be found.
 

Inger Sheil

Member
Dec 3, 2000
5,342
34
208
Elaine, have you contacted Senan Molony, author of the Irish Aboard Titanic? He's done a tremendous amount of work in Queenstown/Cobh related material and may be able to contribute more information to your research.
 
E

Elaine Booth

Guest
I have not contacted Senan Molony. Henry Evans was not Irish. The White Star line sent him to Queenstown to pilot the Titanic and he then returned to his family in Wallasey, Cheshire, England. If someone has an email address for Senan Molony, I will contact him. - Elaine

Posted by Inger Sheil on Monday, 8 March, 2004 - 11:04 pm:

Elaine, have you contacted Senan Molony, author of the Irish Aboard Titanic? He's done a tremendous amount of work in Queenstown/Cobh related material and may be able to contribute more information to your research.
 

Inger Sheil

Member
Dec 3, 2000
5,342
34
208
Hallo again Elaine! I realise Evans was not Irish, but the work Senan has done on the local connections extends to those who worked in Queenstown/Cobh. He's done a lot of work on material regarding this period in the Irish port, so there may possibly some data there. I'll send you the email address privately.
 

Dave Gittins

Member
Apr 11, 2001
4,952
204
193
An erratum note on the page listing publication details in Father Browne's Titanic Album gives the pilot's name as John Cotter. This seems to refer to the pilot who brought Titanic into the anchorage. I suppose another pilot might have taken her out. I'd like an expert to look at the newspaper photos to verify that the ship shown is Titanic.
 

Bob Godfrey

Member
Nov 22, 2002
6,046
57
208
UK
In Cobh (Queenstown) the local historians seem to be in no doubt that the pilot for the Titanic was John Cotter, and it's his photograph that is on display at the Heritage Centre. He was a Cobh resident and had, like all pilots, an intimate knowledge of the hazards to navigation in his own particular area of service.

Henry James Evans, who lived at Grove Rd, Wallasey, was a White Star pilot who guided ships into and out of Liverpool. In 1913 he was even involved in a shipwreck, but one far less exotic than the Titanic. After piloting the Suevic out of the Mersey estuary, he hitched a ride back on the Liverpool Corporation garbage hopper Beta which was returning from a dumping trip. There followed a collision first with a small fishing boat, then while picking up the survivors the Beta was itself struck by the passenger liner Ambrose. Both the smaller vessels sank with the loss of 12 lives; Evans was one of 3 survivors taken from the water by the Ambrose.

Evans had worked for White Star since 1901 and had considerable experience. But did that include experience of the Queenstown area? If so, maybe he had been sent to offer extra support as a pilot of large vessels rather than as replacement for Cotter as the pilot with the essential local knowledge.
 
E

Elaine Booth

Guest
Thank-you for your additions to the history of Henry Evans. I have copies of these newspaper articles as well, which were in my Grandfather William Evans album. I had often wondered why he would be sent to Queenstown to pilot the ship out. I like your theory as to being a "supportive" pilot. The only "proof" we have is a picture of Henry boarding the Titanic at Queenstown, from a newspaper. My grandfather never mentioned "another pilot". - Elaine
 
E

Elaine Booth

Guest
I will try to attach the newspaper photo to this. The date was written on as April 12, 1912, but the paper is not identified. The original, which appears to have been covered with a plastic, may have been in the Maritime Museum. William Evans, Henry Evans son, frequently corresponded with someone there, who sent him photocopies of newsclippings, etc. The title under the picture states "Embarking on the Titanic at Queenstown last Thursday. This was the last port at which the ill-starred vessel called." Someone (probably Wm Evans) then added the typewritten name [not part of the original article] below the individual in the foreground "Henry James Evans" "White Star Pilot." [I do have a larger picture of this, but due to the website constraints on attachments, I had to make it small.] I have other family pictures of Henry Evans, and I have no doubt it is the same person.
 
E

Elaine Booth

Guest
Henry James Evans Embarking on Titanic from the tender out of Queenstown. He later disembarked.
85395.jpg
 

Bob Godfrey

Member
Nov 22, 2002
6,046
57
208
UK
There's a slightly cropped but much clearer image from this photograph in Don Lynch's Illustrated History, page 38. It seems that Mr Evans did meet with Captain Smith on that occasion. Certainly the two men would have known each other well. Perhaps Mr Evans was there as a well-wisher, but it could be that he was despatched to Queenstown to pass on some confidential information or company orders. I'd like to have been a fly on the wall in that meeting!
 

Inger Sheil

Member
Dec 3, 2000
5,342
34
208
Just a thought, Elaine, but you may be able to find out a bit more about Evans in the CR10 files in the Southampton Archives. Copies are also held on microfiche at the PRO in Kew, England. These were compiled at the end of WWI, and as you say Evans was a WSL pilot up until 1919 he might just be included.
 
E

Elaine Booth

Guest
I live in the USA. Is there anyone out there that might have access to the CR10 files in the Southampton Archives. Copies are also held on microfiche at the PRO in Kew, England. I am not familiar with the record sources in England.
 

Inger Sheil

Member
Dec 3, 2000
5,342
34
208
Elaine, you may need to do some digging in the archives on this board - the question of tracing maritime ancestors has come up before. The case of a pilot would be somewhat different, however, as crew agreements etc would probably not be relevant to your work. The CR10s, however, cover (theoretically) should cover him...coverage is fairly broad across the occupations connected with the field, and I'm sure I've seen pilots in there.

As far as tracking maritime records held in another country goes, unless someone comes forward and offers to do it for you gratis, you may need to pay a proxy researcher. The CR10s are an easy look up in either Southampton or the PRO, however. I'll have a scout around and see if I can also find any other records that might be relevant.

You may want to think about research in his local newspapers around significant dates in his life (birth, death, marriage, the sinking etc). Pilots often came from local seafaring families with a tremendous store of local knowledge. British Newspapers are stored at the British Newspaper Library in Colindale, England. The online catalogue can be found here:

http://www.bl.uk/catalogues/newspapers.html

Again, you may need to look at hiring a proxy researcher if you can't do this work yourself or find a volunteer - it can be expensive and time consuming.
 
E

Elaine Booth

Guest
Inger, Thank-you for the information and for your help. I have Henry Evans ancestry back several generations and have made connections with several "cousins" in GB. I am looking for information relating to his lifetime and the his activities. I wanted to follow-up on the "Titanic Story" that my grandfather told. I have several newspaper articles and photocopies of books that my grandfather collected from friends at the Maritime Museum.
 
E

Elaine Booth

Guest
Henry Evans is the man in the bowler hat and suit in the foreground of the lower right hand quadrant.
 

John Murphy

Member
Aug 14, 2005
3
0
71
I have just found this posting and have decided to respond in the hope of finding out more about my family history.
My grandmother told me that her Grandfather was the pilot of the Titanic. She sad that his name was Whelan. He was a former White Star officer (possibly a Captain) who had retired from the sea because his wife died and he had to return to the family home in Queenstown to look after his children. She said he knew Captain Smith well, having previously piloted the Olympic.
Any of you who have visited Cobh (formerly Queenstown) will know that Cork harbour is a natural harbour with a narrow inlet. Queenstown is in fact on an island linked by a causeway and a disused railway bridge. Large liners had to be turned within the harbour before heading out to sea. My Grandmother said that her grandfather was the expert on Cork Harbour having given evidence to a Royal Commission on the harbour in London in 1905. As he had previously turned the Olympic in Cork Harbour it is unimaginable that anyone else would be asked to turn the Titanic, certainly not someone from another port. My grandmother could remember the night of the sinking and sitting in the family kitchen with her grandfather waiting for news. Great,great grandad was reassured that his friend would be safe but he replied, "No, he is the sort of man who would go down with his ship".
I do not wish to dispute any other names offered in this group. My grandmother is now, sadly, departed herself and I have no way of checking any of this information. I would be most grateful to anyone who can tell me anything about this Captain Whelan, or whether I have got the name wrong or confused my grandmother's account.
My grandmother's maiden name was Sullivan, her married name was White (she married a Royal Marine based in Queenstown before moving to Plymouth) and my mother was born in Queenstown before its name was changed.
Any information or confirmation, of clues as to how to confirm this information, gratefully received.
 

Bob Godfrey

Member
Nov 22, 2002
6,046
57
208
UK
Hallo, John. There certainly was a John Whelan working as a pilot for Cork Harbour in the last quarter of the nineteenth century and quite possibly still active in 1912. If so, he might well have piloted Olympic at some time as he is known to have worked with White Star liners. As far as I know there is no evidence that anyone other than John Cotter piloted the Titanic at Queenstown. Ships of this size were far too big to enter the harbour, by the way - they anchored outside and were loaded from tenders. So that part of the story at least sounds like a mix of different memories.
 

Bob Godfrey

Member
Nov 22, 2002
6,046
57
208
UK
Just found, on a French language website, this reference to the Titanic leaving Queenstown:

A 13 heures 30, l'ancre est levée pour la dernière fois, avec l'aide du pilote du port, John Whelan.
(At 1.30, the anchor was raised for the last time with the assistance of the port pilot, John Whelan.)

I'm on the case! Watch this space.