Tommy Henderson ConfectionerBaker on White Star Line


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Sean Bodie

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My Great Granddad, Tommy Henderson, was apparently a baker/confectioner for the White Star Line. An article in a Southampton local paper seems to confirm this fact. Family lore has it that he was scheduled to sail on the Titanic but contracted the mumps. He also apparently testified at the inquest into the sinking. I have searched in vain for information on this, so any help would be much appreciated.
 
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Sean Bodie

Guest
Hello Lester,
Thank you so much for the link. As I suspected, my Great-Granddad's name doesn't appear in either the British or American Inquiries.

Do you know if there is any way to confirm that he actually worked for the White Star Line?

This is very important to me on a purely personal level, so thank you for your quick response.
 
Dec 6, 2000
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Hello Sean,

You are welcome.

Sorry I have no idea. Hopefully someone who knows about those records will see your request and reply. It may be that such records may be held at the National Archives at Kew, which is near London. Where do you live?

With all good wishes for a successful search,
Lester
 

Bob Godfrey

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Nov 22, 2002
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Sean, you're right to suspect that elements of family lore have a tendency to 'grow in the telling' over the years. The Titanic carried the usual complement of two confectioners, and both were signed up about a week before the voyage so it doesn't look like either was a last-minute replacement for a sick man.

If you know for sure that Mr Henderon was a ship's baker and based in Southampton, it's more than likely that he would have crewed for the White Star Line on at least some of his voyages. If you want definite proof you'll need to be checking out the 'Agreements and Crew Lists' on file in the National Archive or at the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich. (Crews were signed on only for the duration of each voyage and do not appear in company personnel records).

Here's a link to some useful guidelines from Debbie Beavis:
http://www.mariners-l.co.uk/UKLogs,CrewLists.html
 
Jul 22, 2001
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Hi Sean

A quick look over at Ellis Island shows a 41 year old Thomas Henderson, originally from Scotland, sailing as Chief Baker on board the SS Lapland in June 1917. His was the only entry I looked at as there were so many Thomas Hendersons to choose from. If you are able to provide a place and maybe a rough date of birth for Mr Henderson we might find him on a census somewhere along with his occupation.

Good Luck!
 

Bob Godfrey

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Nov 22, 2002
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Well found, Emma. Looks like the same Thomas Henderson was a regular as Chief Baker on the Olympic in the early '20s, though he is described as English. Age mid-40s. Are we getting warm, Sean?
 
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Sean Bodie

Guest
Lester, Bob and Emma: Many thanks to you all for your kind assistance. I will do some more research on my end to nail down birth and death dates as well as residences etc. before I bother you further.

If this IS all just family lore,it will be a sad day for me. I have had a lifelong obsession with the Titanic, studying it since long before it was popular among my generation to do so. I viewed myself as a very lucky byproduct of a twist of fate that spared my Great Granddad (before he had had any offspring). As I have, over the years, attempted to validate these assumptions, my suspicions have been aroused. Now I would just like to know the truth.

PS Bob, I live in Alberta Canada now but I am from Poole in Dorset, originally.
 
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Sean Bodie

Guest
Bob, I hadn't noticed your latest post regarding a Thomas Henderson who was on the Olympic. The age does sound about right but the Scottish part may not add up. I am waiting for some more info on his birth place and date etc. Many thanks again to you and Emma and Lester!
 

Bob Godfrey

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Nov 22, 2002
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Well, I looked at several of his White Star crew listings and he was always shown as English, so maybe there was a clerical error on the Lapland sheet.
 
Jul 22, 2001
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Unfortunately for me(!) I am a bit addicted to Genealogy (I am a part time Family Tree Researcher) so I had a brief look on the 1901 census and found a 25 year old Thomas Henderson (unmarried), born St George in the East, working as a 2nd class domestic (is this a baker?) on board the Sparrow Hawk. Although this is a Royal Navy ship not a passenger liner.The Thomas who was 41 in 1917 would have been born circa 1876. If this is your man it gives you a bit more to go on should you want to research him further, but as you say you are awaiting more information on his birth etc.
 

Bob Godfrey

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Stewards, cooks, bakers etc were all rated in the Navy as 'Domestics'. A 1st Class Domestic would be a man who served an Admiral or Captain. All others would be 2nd Class, and their assistants 3rd Class.
 
Apr 2, 2007
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Ah, yes. Fair point Bob. I hadn't realised it was just passengers as I hadn't finished reading the link myself
happy.gif
 
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Sean Bodie

Guest
Many thanks again to you all. I have learned a great deal from you already.

I am still awaiting some solid evidence but preliminary inquiries to some family members and a review of an old newspaper article covering his 103rd Birthday in the "Alton Diary", indicate that-

Thomas Henderson was born about 1874 in Liverpool. Later on he was based in Southampton and worked for the White Star Line for 50 years until his retirement in the 1940's. The Alton Diary Article states that he was not just a confectioner but the White Star Lines' Chief Baker and Confectioner. He lived in Southampton, at a Place called "The Abbey, Beech" near Alton, a retired Seaman's rest home, until his death at around 104 years of age. The article also claims that he "gave evidence at the inquiry onto the disaster".

Does this info give us enough to be able to verify some of the assertions regarding his life?
 

Bob Godfrey

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Nov 22, 2002
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Sean, you can safely dismiss the reference to the Titanic Inquiry, but otherwise that certainly sounds like the Thomas Henderson who appears in the Ellis Island crew listngs mentioned above. He is listed as Chief Baker on various White Star liners sailing from Liverpool in the period 1917-1921, then mainly on the Olympic sailing from Southampton. I believe the Americans didn't keep records of arriving crews until they entered the War in 1917, so for earlier dates you'll need to use the other archives mentioned above.

I recommend that you obtain a copy of his CR10 seaman's registration card from the 1920s, which will provide his personal details and a photograph. You'll find an email contact link for the Southampton Archives Service here:

http://www.southampton.gov.uk/leisure/history/archives/default.asp
 
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Sean Bodie

Guest
Wow! Bob, thank you so much! This has been a real learning adventure. I am glad that at least some of what I thought I knew about my Great Grand Dad is true.
 

Nigel Ramsay

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Apr 1, 2008
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Hi,
I happened upon this website by chance, and oh boy! Tom Henderson was my Grandfather. Sean Bodie turns out to be not only my Godson,but my cousin too! I hadn't hear anything about him for many years, last seeing him as a baby at his Christening in 1965.

We are now in touch again from me seeing the entry on this website.

Just to put a couple of things straight:

Thomas Henderson was indeed the Chief Baker of the White Star Line. It's true that he was meant to go as Chief Baker on the Titanic but in fact a more senior Baker (a friend of his) went in his place. My Grandfather couldn't swim but the guy who went could.

Without that twist of fate, Sean wouldn't be posting on here nor me!

I have my Grandfather's CR10 as it happens, together with other material from those days.

Sean's Father (also a Henderson) was my Grandfather's son, Les Henderson, my Mother's sister. Tom Henderson lived with us in Southampton until he went to a Merchant Seamens home within an Abbey in 1970 after my Mother's death. He died in 1979, aged 104 and some months and is buried in the Monk's cemetery at the Abbey. I remained in contact with him until the end and indeed, my daughter was christened at the Abbey, where my grandfather held her, months before he died. He was an amazing example of living history, particularly with regard to the White Star Line.
 

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