Joseph Harris

Mr Joseph Harris was born at 40 Springmount Street in Belfast, Ireland on 19 January 1880. Coming from a Presbyterian family, he was the son of Joseph Harris, a carpenter, and Mary Jane Gilmore. 

Initially working in a foundry, on his 18th birthday Harris enlisted with the Royal Navy. A man short in stature (records describe him as between 5’ 4” and 5’ 7”), he had brown hair, blue-grey eyes and a fair complexion, sporting a tattoo on his left wrist. His first ship was the Caledonia, rising to become an ordinary seaman aboard Benbow in May 1898 and serving as such among a host of other vessels, including Vivid I (shore station) and Cleopatra. His conduct was, in the main, quite poor and he spent numerous periods in the cells over the years until he was discharged in April 1900 on account of his “objectionable” behaviour. 

He was married in St Anne’s Church, Belfast on 30 May 1906 to Elizabeth Hunter (b. circa 1884) and his address was given as 74 Carman Street. They went on to have five children: John (b. 1907), Alexander (b. 1910), Josephine (b. 1912), James (b. 1914) and Albert (b. 1917). 

The family appears on the 1911 census residing at 25 Klondyke Street in Belfast and Joseph is then described as a plater’s helper. 

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

Enlisting for the war effort in February 1915 and described as a rigger, Harris deserted the following month and was struck off in July that year. He was soon caught up with and in Swansea in September 1915 he was tried for being absent without leave and sentenced to a fortnight in prison. Later he enlisted with the Royal Naval Reserve and served with the merchant fleet for the remainder of WWI. 

Joseph Harris died in Belfast on 26 February 1950.

References and Sources

Crew Signing-On Particulars of Engagement, Public Record Office of Northern Ireland (2A/45/381, A-H)
1911 Census
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Comment and discuss

  1. Rita (2004) said:

    Joseph Harris was my great uncle. I was told that he was acre member but called back before Titanic sailed as his wife was gravely ill in Belfast. I suspect that he perhaps intended to try to sign on at Southampton but was called home and thereby either way had a lucky escape .

  2. avatar

    Kenneth_Adams said:

    Hi Rita, Joseph Harris was my grandfather Albert Harris brother, As I understand it Joseph did indeed leave ths ship at Southhampton to return to Belfast. The story I was told was that his wife who I understand was called Minerva, (Minnie) had died in childbirth. her son lived and they named him Joseph, Joseph snr wanted to return to sea , so JosephJnr was raised by his Grandmother Lizzie Corrigan. I have a group photo taken around 1930s. In the group is Who I think Is Joseph Jnr in milatary uniform and I believe Joseph Snn in naval uniform, plus Lizzie Corrigan, My mum Mary Jane Harris, and... Read full post


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Gavin Bell, UK

Link and cite this biography

Encyclopedia Titanica (2020) Joseph Harris (ref: #2292, last updated: 19th July 2020, accessed 23rd July 2021 17:16:44 PM)

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