Tommy Henderson ConfectionerBaker on White Star Line


Sean Bodie

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.

Sean Bodie

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.
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,
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:,CrewLists.html
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!
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?

Sean Bodie

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.

Sean Bodie

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!
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.
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.
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.
Ah, yes. Fair point Bob. I hadn't realised it was just passengers as I hadn't finished reading the link myself