William Simpson Burns was born at Mission Lane in Larne, Co Antrim, Ireland on 1 May 1874. Coming from a Presbyterian family, he was the son of William Burns, a dock labourer, and Ellen Pogue.
He appears on the 1901 census living at 4 Garden Place, Belfast with his elderly parents and siblings Robert and Ellen. He, as well as his brother, was described as a dock labourer.
Burns’ ship prior to Titanic had been the Olympic. He joined Titanic at Belfast for the delivery trip to Southampton where he then disembarked.
William Burns remained working at sea and lived in Belfast for the rest of his life; his last address was 16 Pere Street and he died there on 20 December 1953. He is buried in Belfast’s City Cemetery (plot U1 370).