Mr James McAnespie 1 was born in Co Armagh,2 Ireland (believed to have been in the village of Loughgall) in 1860. Hailing from a Roman Catholic family he was the son of Michael McAnespie, a sailor, and Ann Heaney and was baptised on 8 April 1860.
Giving his address as Great Edward Street and described as a sailor, McAnespie was married to warehouse worker Martha Donnelly (b. circa 1860) of Belfast’s New Lodge Road in that city’s St Patrick’s Church on 29 June 1881. The couple would go on to welcome fourteen children, all but one surviving early childhood.
The couple’s children were: James (b. September 1882), Margaret Ann (b. May 1884), Michael (b. February 1886), Henry (b. November 1887), Edward (b. May 1890), Catherine (b. circa 1892), John (b. June 1893), Martha (b. November 1895), Patrick (b. May 1897), Henry (b. circa 1898), Ellen (b. March 1900), Gerald (b. August 1903) and Mary Ellen (b. November 1905). The first child born named Henry died aged seven in January 1895 as a result of gastroenteritis.
During the early 1890s McAnespie is recorded as working as an able seaman aboard the ships Armagh and Donegal.
By the time of the 1901 census the McAnespie family was living at 3 Bruslee Street in north Belfast and James was described as a shipyard rigger. In the following census the home address was 21 New Lodge Road. Despite being described as a rigger, he still worked aboard the occasional ship.
McAnespie’s ship prior to Titanic had been the Olympic. He joined Titanic at Belfast for the delivery trip to Southampton where he then disembarked.
In later years James made a return to sea as an able seaman, although he had shaved a few years from his age. Described as standing at 5’ 10” and having brown hair, blue eyes and a fair complexion, both his arms were decorated with tattoos.
James McAnespie died in Belfast on 14 November 1931 at the age of 71. His widow Martha died on 28 November 1939.