Mr John Burns was born at Bridge Street in Downpatrick, Co Down, Ireland on 26 August 1880.1 He was the son of James Burns, a labourer, and Jane Kearney.
In April 1896 Burns joined the Royal Navy, his first ship being the Caledonia. He eventually rose to become an able seaman and with an excellent record of conduct was discharged in January 1907. That same month he joined the Royal Navy Reserve and served for five years before he was discharged in January 1912.
With his address stated as 7 Albertbridge Road in Belfast, Burns was married in that city’s St Matthew’s Church on 26 September 1901 to Sarah Crowley but they are not believed to have had any children.
Burns’ ship prior to Titanic had been the Thelma. He joined Titanic at Belfast for the delivery trip to Southampton where he then disembarked.