John Mathers

Mr John Mathers was born at 63 Charles Street South in Belfast, Ireland on 2 May 1887. Hailing from a Presbyterian family, he was the son of William James Mathers, a porter, and Margaret Cleary. 

He first appears on the 1901 census living with his mother—his father was absent—and several siblings, living at 42 Jerusalem Street in south Belfast and being described as a message boy. Later working as a plumber’s assistant, Mather’s joined the Royal Navy in May 1905, his first ship being the Black Prince. Going on to serve aboard Agincourt, Cambridge and Donegal, by October 1905 he was listed as an ordinary seaman at the Vivid I shore station. He then went on to serve aboard Duke of Edinburgh and Hibernia before his discharge in June 1907. 

Records show that his behaviour ranged from very good to bad or indifferent and he spent numerous periods in the cells for his misconduct. Whilst aboard Duke of Edinburgh he was imprisoned in Cork for 90 days for his refusal to carry out orders and records show that he was a highly tattooed individual. 

Giving his address at 29 Walmer Street, John was married in Belfast on 29 February 1909 to Florence Edith Maud Wykes (b. 1882), a native of Portsmouth, Hampshire. They went on to be the parents of four children: Elsie (b. 1910), John (b. 1911), Mary (b. 1913) and Georgina (b. 1915). The family appears on the 1911 census whilst residents of 84 Clementine Street and with John being described as a porter to a jeweller.  

Harris’ ship prior to Titanic had been the Olympic. He joined Titanic at Belfast for the delivery trip to Southampton where he then disembarked.

Mathers’ movements over the next few years are difficult to ascertain but it is believed he went on to serve his country during WWI, possibly with the Royal Irish Rifles.

Mathers was imprisoned in Dublin in February 1921 for burglary and receiving. Serving a five-year sentence, during that time Ireland was partitioned and when released in June 1926 Mathers returned to Belfast which was by then in Northern Ireland, a newly created and devolved region still within the United Kingdom.  

John Mathers’ last address was 80 Roslyn Street in Belfast where he died on 19 March 1945. He is buried with his wife (who died in March 1958) in Dundonald Cemetery (plot A3 200). 

References and Sources

Crew Signing-On Particulars of Engagement, Public Record Office of Northern Ireland (2A/45/381, A-H)
1901, 1911 Census
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Gavin Bell, UK

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Encyclopedia Titanica (2020) John Mathers (ref: #2422, last updated: 20th July 2020, accessed 28th July 2021 07:41:05 AM)
URL : https://www.encyclopedia-titanica.org/titanic-biography/john-mathers.html

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