Encyclopedia Titanica

Frank Burness

Delivery Crew Fireman

Mr Alfred Francis [or Frederick?] Burness,1 known as Frank, was born in Lisnaskea, Co Fermanagh, Ireland around 1856. He was the son of David Burness, a Presbyterian land steward originally from Scotland, and the former Mary Anne Miller who hailed from a Church of Ireland family in Derry. Burness described himself as Church of Ireland in later records and he is known to have had at least four siblings. 

Later settling in Belfast and working as a commercial traveller, Burness was married on 19 July 1877 in May Street Church to Emily Edgar (b. circa 1858) of Co Down. The couple relocated to Scotland and whilst there their first two children were born, Alfred in May 1878 and Evaline in September 1879. The family returned to Belfast where their third child was born in October 1881, Charles. Whilst in Belfast, Frank began a long career at sea, working as a fireman on ships operating mainly from Irish ports. 

Frank and Emily lost both their sons less than two months apart in early 1890; their baby Charles succumbed to measles and Alfred to tuberculosis. In March 1894 their daughter Evaline died from tuberculosis, aged just fourteen.

By 1901 Frank and Emily lived at 21 Collyer Street in north Belfast; the 1911 census has the couple living at 15 Trafalgar Street, although Frank was unlisted at the time. 

With his previous ship being the Dunmore Head, Burness joined the Titanic as a fireman at Belfast for the delivery trip to Southampton where he then disembarked.

He continued working at sea and was also with the Royal Navy Reserve.

Frank Burness spent his final days living at 11 Kendal Street in Belfast; he died there on 1 September 1939 and was buried three days later in City Cemetery (plot B 153). His widow Emily died in March the following year.


  1. Most records give his middle name as Francis; his marriage record gives his middle name as Frederick. 


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Titanic Crew Summary

Name: Mr Frank Burness
Nationality: Irish
Religion: Church of Ireland
Marital Status: Married to Emily Edgar
Occupation: Fireman
Last Ship: Dunmore Head
Embarked: Belfast on Friday 29th March 1912
Disembarked: Southampton
Buried: Belfast City Cemetery, Belfast, Ireland on Monday 4th September 1939

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