William Gilbert


Darren Clossin

I just purchased a Titanic Relief Fund check that was made out to a Mrs. E. Gilbert. Does anyone know by chance if she was the wife/ daughter of 2nd Class victim Mr. William Gilbert? Thanks for any information you can provide.
Brian J. Ticehurst

Brian J. Ticehurst

Darren - Your are right Mrs. Gilbert, Second Class passenger was a benificiary under the Relief Fund - her case was handled by the Bristol Titanic relief Fund Committee - here is my print out on her:

Gilbert, Mr. William. Missing. Next of Kin - Mrs. Gilbert, Carleens, Breage, Cornwall. UK.
Aged 45 years.
(From: Mansion House Titanic Relief Fund Booklet, March 1913)
Number P. 39. Gilbert, Eliza, mother. received weekly pension.
Is mentioned on a stone in Breage Parish Church Cemetery, Breage, Cornwall. The inscription is:
With Thomas, Eliza Gilbert. Also of William, their beloved son who lost his life in the wreck of the Titanic April 15th 1912 aged 47 years.
There is also a stained glass memorial window to Mr. William Gilbert, it was originally in Carleen Chapel at Breage, Cornwall - the chapel is now closed and the window is in the custody of his nephew Mr. William Gilbert.

Mr William Gilbert. - from Steve Coombes
William Gilbert who lost his life on Titanic, aged 47, was from a family whose roots were located in the small hamlet of Polladrass and the nearby village of Carleen in the parish of Breage, some three and a half miles to the north-west of the Cornish town of Helston.
William was born in Polladrass in 1865. He was the son of Thomas Gilbert and Elizabeth (Eliza) Gilbert (nee Williams). His father was a miner who spent much of his working time in America, mainly in and around Butte, Montana. In his absence William's mother ran a grocers shop in Polladrass which she had taken over from her father-in-law Edward Gilbert who had died in 1879.
William spent his early years in Polladrass and when aged 2 his sister, Mary was born. After 10 years his brother Thomas was born. At about this time William was apprenticed to Mr Joyce of nearby Breage as a joiner and wheelwright. In due time Thomas also followed the same course.
In the mid-1880's William, his mother, brother and sister moved to live in a cottage in Carleen. This cottage was No 1 Gilbert's Row and had been built for William's father in the 1860's and had initially been occupied by William's great-uncle. This double-fronted cottage was built against three existing cottages which are still known today as No's 1 to 4 Gilbert's Row.
William, like his father, decided to seek work in Butte and subsequently secured employment there in a joinery shop. At about the same time his sister Mary moved there too and kept a boarding house at which William, his father and many other Cornish stayed. Mary was renowned for her Cornish pasties and saffron cake.
William returned to Cornwall on 1 January 1912 for a three month holiday to visit his mother and brother. Thomas was by then was running his own wheelwright business in Carleen also building such things as butchers wagons, traps and carts. William was due to return to America in the March of 1912 but stalled his return wishing to wait for the maiden voyage of
William travelled to Southampton and embarked Titanic on 10 April 1912. He was travelling 2nd class under ticket number 30769, which had cost him £10 10s. William did not survive the sinking, he was aged 47.
He has a memorial on the family gravestone in the cemetery adjacent to Breage parish church. The inscription reads, 'With Thomas, Eliza Gilbert.
Also of William, their beloved son, who lost his life in the wreck of the Titanic, April 15th 1912, aged 47 years.
From: Mansion House Titanic Relief Fund Booklet, March 1913: Number P. 39.
Gilbert, Eliza, mother. received weekly pension.
On 8 May 1912, twenty-four days following the loss of William his brother's wife, Annie, gave birth to a baby boy at No 2 Gilberts Row. He was immediately named William in memory of his uncle. Spending his early years living next door to his grandmother (William's mother) he was to hear much about the uncle he never knew. Some of his recollections which give an insight into William Gilbert appeared in a local publication 'Carleen - Then and now'.
''His main interests were electrical engineering and technical drawing. I have heard that he was very clever and had an intentive mind. He went to Truro one day to get some material for his experiments, he probably cycled to Nancegollan Station to get a train to Gwinear Road and then changed trains for Truro. He arrived home late at night but did not retire to bed until he set his electric motor in motion in his bedroom, the vibration on the bedroom floor awakened Granny Gilbert in the middle of the night. He was clever with his tools and loved a challenge, among the many interesting things he made was a model sailing boat and a violin. Granny would as a special favour let me look at the artefacts in Uncle's bottom drawer. I can remember the blueprints, violin bows, and his Freemason's Apron. The top right hand drawer was full of smaller items which meant nothing to me as a small boy. It was said that William was hoping to have one of his inventions patented in America, he believed perpetual motion was a possibility.
He was also a keen amateur photographer, he used the old-fashioned wood camera and tripod and glass negative plate, the dark-room was Granny's store room when she kept the shop, the long slate shelf was ideal for developing and printing.
It seems he was a confirmed bachelor but evidently had many female admirers. One was a Miss Eustace of Ashton, another lived in Helston, this young lady walked to Carleen twice in one day (Sunday) to see him. I hope Granny gave her a cup of tea.''
In these recollections he also mentions that William, on his many journeys to and from Cornwall regularly stayed at the Cornish Arms Hotel, 445 West 23rd Street, New York whose proprietor was a Mr Sid Blake. Sid was a Cornishman who prided himself on the 'home-from-home' service he provided to his fellow visiting Cornishmen. On 21 April 1912 he wrote to the Butte Tribune newspaper expressing his sadness in the loss of so many Cornish people, many of whom he had come to know personally. He made a particular reference to William Gilbert.

Next question? - Cheers Brian

Darren Clossin

Wow Mr. Ticehurst- Thanks for all that info! Glad my hunch was correct! Kind of an odd situation- his parents not only slept in different beds, but in different countries separated by the atlantic ocean!

By the way- My apologies to any English teachers on here for my mis-spelling of the word "victim" in the title of my post!
Jason D. Tiller

Jason D. Tiller

Staff member
No worries Darren, it's fixed.