Encyclopedia Titanica

George Thomas Macdonald Symons

Titanic Lookout George Symons

George Thomas MacDonald Symons was born in Weymouth, Dorset, England on 23 February 1888. He was the son of Robert James Symons (1867-1939), a steamship fireman, and Bessie Newman (1868-1933). Both his parents hailed from Dorset and had married in Weymouth in 1887.

George was one of thirteen children, one of whom died in infancy. His known siblings were: John (b. 1889), Bessie (b. 1891), Mabel (b. 1893), Florence (b. 1895), Robert James (b. 1897), Phillis May (b. 1899), Alice Irene (b. 1901), Walter Henry (b. 1906), Violet Hildegard (b. 1907), Sadie (b. 1909) and William Arthur (b. 1911).

George first appears on the 1891 census when he and his family were living at Beleris (?) Lane, Melcombe Regis, Weymouth. He and his family were living at 5 Hartlebury Row, Weymouth by the time of the 1901 census. By the time of the 1911 census George was still at home with his family, now living at 55 Franchise Street, Weymouth and he was described as a seaman.

When he signed-on to the Titanic, on 6 April 1912, George gave his address as 55 Fanshaw Street, (Southampton). His last ship had been the Oceanic. As a Lookout he received monthly wages of £5.

George survived the sinking, escaping in the controversial Emergency Lifeboat 1 which carried only twelve occupants and of which he was put in command.

Loohout George Symons

Titanic lookout George Symons in c.1921
(National Archives, courtesy of Michael Poirier)

George returned to England and continued to work at sea. He was married in Weymouth towards the end of 1912 to Mary Jane Bolt (b. 1890 in Weymouth) and settled in Southampton. The couple had two daughters, Dorothy May (b. 1915) and Joan (b. 1918).

George and his family later lived at 6 Morland Road, Shirley. He died on 3 December 1950. He is buried at Hollybrook Cemetery, Southampton (section A6, plot 71). His widow passed away on 12 September 1956.

Both George's daughters died in Southampton, his daughter Dorothy (later Mrs Stanley Pearce) in 2006 and his is daughter Joan (later Mrs Norris Massey) in 2004.

References and Sources

Agreement and Account of Crew (PRO London, BT100/259)
United States Senate, Washington 1912. n° 806, Crew List
United States Senate (62nd Congress), Subcommittee Hearings of the Committee on Commerce, Titanic Disaster, Washington 1912
Wreck Commissioners' Court, Proceedings before the Right Hon. Lord Mersey on a Formal Investigation Ordered by the Board of Trade into the Loss of the S.S. Titanic

Research Articles

Captain Laurence V. Wade Titanica! (2003) Lookouts : The Human Perspective
The role of the lookouts on the Titanic from the eye of an experienced seaman.
Senan Molony Titanica! (2008) 12.45am - A Time to Go!
What time did the first lifeboat depart the Titanic?

Newspaper Articles

Sheffield Daily Independent (18 May 1912) IMPORTANT TITANIC WITNESSES
Search archive online

Comment and discuss

  1. Denise Lennen

    Does anyone know anything about the rest of his life? Thank You, Denise Lennen

  2. Brandon Whited

    A biography is available on this site. Also, the book "Titanic Voices" has some information about him. Cheers, -B.W.

  3. Jessica Jackson

    Jessica Jackson

    Hi, I've only just joined so that's why I'm so late in posting! Denise, did you find out anything else? And does anybody know where he was buried? I read it somewhere but can't remember it! Also, he came from a town near where my nan lives. If anyone knows anything then that'd be great, and how do I access the biography? Ta! Jess

  4. Fiona Nitschke

    Hello Jessica, All of the biographies on Encyclopedia Titanica can be accessed through the main page:

  5. Jessica Jackson

    Jessica Jackson

    Hi Fiona, thanx, and you're right, that's how I started researching George T.M. Symons in the first place! I just can't remember how I found out other stuff about him...not very internet friendly yet!

  6. Arne Mjåland

    The obituary about Symons may answer a few of the questions. Here it is from Southern Daily Echo in December 1950: SYMONS, George -6 Morland-road, Shirley, Southampton, suddenly on December 3 (late Ordnance Survey) Service, St James Church 2.30, Thursday followed by interment at Hollybrook Cementery, Funeral from above adress."

  7. Dark Angel1125

    George Symons was united with his brother Jack when the Carpathia rescued Titanic survivors. Jack worked amongst the crew. They both later served with the Allies during WWI and were once again thrust together following action in Gallipoli, and latterly Turkey, where they also came across their brother Bob whom suffered shrapnel wounds. When Carpathia was torpedoed by German U-55 on July 17, 1918, the brothers experienced a "rescue reversal". George Symons was a "crewman" aboard the HMS Snowdrop which picked up survivors during the wartime Carpathia disaster. He died in 1950 and is buried at... Read full post

  8. Charlie Persil Symons

    My name is mark William symons and George Thomas McDonald symons was my great uncle has anybody got anymore information on the family history regarding my great uncle

  9. James Nicholson

    George was my grandmother's brother. Jack Symons does not appear in the list of the Carpathia's crew held by the National Archives. There may be some confusion over this story unless someone has any evidence.

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Titanic Crew Summary

Name: Mr George Thomas Macdonald Symons
Age: 24 years 1 month and 21 days (Male)
Nationality: English
Last Residence: at 55 Fanshaw StreetSouthampton, Hampshire, England
Occupation: Lookout
Last Ship: Oceanic
Embarked: Southampton on Saturday 6th April 1912
Rescued (boat 1)  
Disembarked Carpathia: New York City on Thursday 18th April 1912
Died: Sunday 3rd December 1950 aged 62 years
Buried: Hollybrook Cemetery, Southampton, Hampshire, England

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