William Hanley was born at 53 Lancaster Street in Belfast, Ireland on 23 December 1887. Hailing from a Church of Ireland family, he was the son of William Hanley, a dairy carter, and Elizabeth Brownlee and had eight brothers and sisters.
Hanley joined the Royal Navy as a stoker on 31 July 1906 and was described as standing at 5’ 8” and with brown hair, grey eyes and a fresh complexion. His first vessel was the Acheron and would serve on other vessels until 7 July 1910 when he was discharged on account of his health.
By the time of the 1911 census he and his family, his father by then having passed away, were residents of 72 Wilton Street in Woodvale, Belfast and he was described as a carter. He returned to sea a few months later.
Hanley’s ship prior to Titanic had been the Graphic. He joined Titanic at Belfast for the delivery trip to Southampton where he then disembarked.
After Titanic Hanley remained at sea and later became a petty officer with the Royal Navy during WWI. He was married in September 1915 to Christina Patton and they had one son and one daughter, William and Mary.
William Hanley spent his final years living at 264 Alliance Avenue in Ardoyne, north Belfast where he died on 19 February 1958 aged 70. He is interred in Belfast’s City Cemetery with his widow and mother (plot G1 179).