Mr Joseph “Joey” Thompson was born at 60 Tyrone Street in Belfast, Ireland on 18 January 1878. He was the son of Joseph Thompson, a Presbyterian stonemason, and Sarah Wilson, an Episcopalian and had a brother, Robert.
Thompson appears on the 1901 census living with his by then widowed mother at 15 Lewis Street in North Belfast and he was described as a house and ship painter.
Described as a painter, Thompson was married in the Trinity Presbyterian Church in Bangor, Co Down on 1 January 1903 to Susanna Kyle (b. 8 March 1874), a native of that town and the daughter of labourer Alexander Kyle and the former Catherine McClure.
Their son Alexander was born in April 1904, followed by Sarah Josephine in April 1906, Kathleen in September 1908 and Joseph in February 1912. The family appears on the 1911 census living at 52 Ogilvie Street in south Belfast and Thompson was again described as a house and ship painter. Their son Alexander died in May 1909 as a result of meningitis.
Joey Thompson—a well-known trades unionist and shipyard painters’ foreman—was part of the Harland & Wolff guarantee group of employees tasked with ensuring the smooth running of Titanic’s initial run. Thompson was the only member of the group to disembark the ship at Southampton and return to Belfast, escaping the fate of each and every other one of his peers who continued on the maiden voyage.
Sadly, however, Joey Thompson joined his fellow Guarantee Group members in death only a few years later. A valued employee at Harland & Wolff, around 1914 he was appointed foreman painter at that company’s works in Bootle, relocating there with his family.
Joseph Thompson spent the last three years of his life living in Liverpool but died in an accident at Bootle Works on 18 July 1917. His body was repatriated to Belfast where he was buried in Dundonald Cemetery on Sunday 22 July (plot E4 140).
BELFASTMAN KILLED AT BOOTLE. A distressing, accident, as the result of which a Belfastman lost his life, has occurred at Messrs. Harland & Wolff's woks at Bootle. The unfortunate victim was Mr. Joseph Thompson, who, while following his occupation as foreman painter, was struck by a steel wedge that by some means had become dislodged. He never regained consciousness and succumbed some three hours after the accident. Deceased had bees in the service of Messers. Harland & Wolff for a considerable period, and was employed at their Belfast yard for many years. An assiduous and conscientious worker his merit was recognised by his employers, and three years ago he was appointed foreman painter art Bootle Works. He was He was a well-known trades unionist, and was a former secretary of the Amalgamated Society of Painters, Belfast Branch. He leaves a widow, who resides at Walton, Liverpool. He was a son of the late Mr. Joseph Thompson and Mrs. Thompson. Bromley street, Belfast, and brother of Mr. Robert Thompson, Enfield Street. The body has been conveyed to Belfast, and the funeral will take place on Sunday from Bellevue, Cliftonville Circus, the residence of his brother-in-law, Mr. W. B. Brown - Belfast Telegraph, 21 July 1917
THOMPSON – July 18, 1917 Killed at Bootle Shipyard, Liverpool, Joseph Thompson, the dearly-beloved husband of Susan Thompson. His remains will be removed from his brother-in-law’s residence, Belvue, Cliftonville Circus, on to-morrow (Sunday), at 2.30 p.m., for interment in Dundonald Cemetery. Friends will please accept this intimation.
WILLIAM AND ELIZABETH BROWN - Belfast Telegraph, 21 July 1917
His widow Susanna returned to her native Bangor but died on 22 April 1922 and was buried with her husband.