Mr Cecil William Fitzpatrick was born on William Street in Kilkenny, Co Kilkenny, Ireland on 26 April 1890. Family lore states that he was born in the caul (the amniotic sack), a rare occurrence and which was, and sometimes still is, taken as a superstitious sign that the individual would never drown.
Coming from a Roman Catholic family, he was the son of an Irish father from Co Cavan, Robert Fitzpatrick (1858-1931), a policeman with the Royal Irish Constabulary, and an English-born mother from Lancaster, Mary Gertrude Ryan (1858-1928), a school teacher1. The couple had married in Kilkenny on 7 September 1885.
Cecil had three siblings: Robert Francis (b. 13 June 1888), Evelyn Joseph (b. 6 February 1892) and Gabrielle May (b. 21 March 1894).
Cecil and his family appear on the 1901 census of Ireland living at 45 Church Street in Listowel, Co Kerry. They later moved to Tuam, Co Galway where Cecil's parents appeared on the 1911 census living at 29 Sun Street. Cecil does not appear on the census and was likely at sea, having commenced his sea-going career around 1910.
When he signed on to the Titanic, Cecil gave his address as 93 Millbrook Road, Freemantle, Southampton. His previous ship had been the Oceanic and as a mess steward he could expect to receive monthly wages of £3, 15s.
On the night of the disaster Cecil was in bed in his cabin. The shock of the impact disturbed him and he was further alarmed by the cessation of the engines. On enquiring what the matter was, he was informed that there was nothing serious amiss and went back to bed. He was later reawakened by another member of the crew with a slap across the face; he went on deck where he reported a distinct list to port. It was here he assisted in loading the lifeboats until the boat deck was inundated and he jumped, swimming in icy water until managing to pull himself unto upturned collapsible B. He was later transferred into boat 12 and second class passenger Lillian Bentham recalled wrapping her fur coat around him to protect him from the bitter cold.
"As one of the lifeboats was being filled with women and children a foreigner tried to jump on the boat. The officer told him to go on deck. He refused, and the officer fired and the man fell dead on deck. The lifeboat was lowered, and the officer kept on firing his revolver till he was level with the water. I saw a similar instance on the port side. A passenger tried to claim a seat in one of the boats. The officer told him to leave at once and as he hesitated a revolver shot was fired and he dropped dead in the water. As the liner was dipping I jumped overboard in the icy water, and struck out with every effort I could in order to escape the suction. I was picked up by No 12 lifeboat and afterwards taken on board the Carpathia."
He was later interviewed by several newspapers following the sinking but was not required to give evidence to either of the US or British Inquiries into the disaster.
Cecil returned to England after the disaster but his experiences coloured his attitudes and he never returned to sea. He later worked as a cashier and building contractors' assistant and resided for a time in Ipswich, Suffolk. In August 1914 he married Elsie May Moody in Hull, Yorkshire. Elsie, a Hull native, had been born on 8 September 1889, the daughter of Robert Moody and Julia Lintern.
The couple were not married long before Cecil went to service in the Royal Garrison Artillery as a gunner during the 1914-1918 War. Following his return to England he and his wife would go on to have four children: Patricia May (1920-2011), Robert Cecil (b. 1922), Anthony Evelyn (1923-2005) and Anne Moody (b. 1933).
Cecil lived for many years at Cambridge Row, Chapeltown Road, Leeds and in his later years worked for the Leeds Corporation Cleansing Department. He never cared to discuss the Titanic disaster but did grant the occasional interview to curious newspapers and in 1953 was reunited with Carpathia crewman Ernest William Varley when they were special guests at a screening of Fox's Titanic at Bradford's Odeon cinema.
Cecil in 1953
Cecil Fitzpatrick died in Leeds, Yorkshire on 11 July 1964 aged 74. His widow Elsie passed away in Surrey on 5 November 1976.