Encyclopedia Titanica

Cecil William Fitzpatrick

Titanic mess steward

Cecil Fitzpatrick

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 (alleged) Carpathia crewman Ernest William Varley when they were special guests at a screening of Fox's Titanic at Bradford's Odeon cinema.

Cecil Fitzpatrick

Cecil in 1953

Cecil Fitzpatrick died in Leeds, Yorkshire on 11 July 1964 aged 74. He was buried(as William C. Fitzpatrick) at the Catholic Cemetery, Killingbeck, Leeds (section BV, plot 225)1. His widow Elsie passed away in Surrey on 5 November 1976.


  1. His parents eventually settled in his father's home county, Cavan; his mother died from cancer on 1 August 1928 and his father on 13 May 1931.
  2. His grave bears the name of 20 other individuals presumably all buried in the same location.

References and Sources

Yorkshire Post and Leeds Mercury, 11 August 1953, Titanic Survivor meets one of his Rescuers
Search archive online

Comment and discuss

  1. anne Tierney

    Would anyone please have any information about Cecil W Fitzpatrick Mess steward aged 21 address given as 93 Millbrook Road, Southampton, survived the sinking. He was rescued on Collapsible B, and was transferred to Lifeboat 12. he was born in Tuam Co Galway Ireland.

  2. Brian J. Ticehurst

    Morning Anne - Mr. Cecil Fitzpatrick was a survivor and as many of them did just got on with their lives - not seeking any publicity etc. Hence the dearth of information about them. All I have is the following: FITZPATRICK, CECIL WILLIAM. Saved in Lifeboat B, then transferred to number 12. Lived at 93 Millbrook Road, Southampton. Occupation - Mess Steward, Engine Room Department. 21 years old. (Born in Kilkenny). Ship before the RMS Titanic was the RMS Oceanic. It was reported that he was Born with a caul (an unruptured membrane from the womb) - said to mean that that person would never... Read full post

  3. anne Tierney

    Hi Brian, Thanks for the information I am researching about him for our local historial group. Please can you tell me where you got the information he was born in Kilkenney. My records show he lived with his parents in Bishop street, Tuam Co Galway before Southampton. Thanks Anne

  4. anne Tierney

    Brian, have you any information on Mr William Luke Duffy who received his education at St. Jarlath`s College, Tuam, Ireland. anne

  5. Brian J. Ticehurst

    Anne I have the following on Mr. Duffy: Duffy, William Luke. Lived at 11 Garton Road, Itchen, Southampton. Occupation - Chief Engineer's Clerk (Writer). 26 years old. (Born in Tuam, Castlebar - see certificate details below). (From: Mansion House Titanic Relief Fund Booklet, March 1913) Number 88. Duffy, Ethel, widow; child: Mary; Ward, Marion, Aunt. All class D dependants. (From the Titanic Relief Fund Minute Book number 2, Southampton Area) Date June 3rd 1913. Case number C88. Mrs. Duffy (Widow). Be granted sum of £4. 4. 0s from the Compassionate Fund to enable her to purchase a set... Read full post

  6. anne Tierney

    Brian, many thanks for all the information, I am still trying to find out where Cecil W fitzpatrick came from was it Tuam or Kilkenny? Anne

  7. Brian J. Ticehurst

    Anne - Sorry but I dont know - I suggest you try for a Birth certificate at either place to be sure. Please let me know if you find out so I can update. regards - Brian

  8. Anne Burrows

    Anne, Cecil William Fitzpatrick was my father. I am sending you further details by e mail. Anne Burrows

  9. Anne Burrows

    Brian Ticehurst, Cecil Fitzpatrick was my father. Perhaps I can help you with further information. Anne Burrows

  10. Brian J. Ticehurst

    Hello Anne - All I have on Mr. Fitzpatrick is the following: FITZPATRICK, CECIL WILLIAM. Saved in Lifeboat B, then transferred to number 12. Lived at 93 Millbrook Road, Southampton. Occupation - Mess Steward, Engine Room Department. 21 years old. (Born in Kilkenny). Ship before the RMS Titanic was the RMS Oceanic. Born with a caul (an unruptured membrane from the womb) - said to mean that that person would never drown - it was right in this case. Anything you can add to the above would be great - many thanks Brian

  11. Anne Burrows

    Brian Ticehurst - re: Cecil William Fitzpatrick You may find this of interest. On the night of the collision he was helping passengers into the lifeboats. When the ship was low he stepped into the water and swam for his life. He managed to scramble on to an overturned collapsible lifeboat. With other survivors he stood until they were transferred to another lifeboat. Also on the upturned lifeboat was 2nd Officer Lightoller. This is documented in his biography "Lights". In the book there is an account of one occasion when he took a cold bath. His wife found him lying on his face in the water... Read full post

  12. Brian J. Ticehurst

    Hello Anne - Thanks for that. The crew were put into a hotel in the United States, paid for by the White Star Line - then (if they were not required at the American Inquiry) they were returned to the UK (Plymouth) on the SS Lapland then put on the train back to Southampton. Regards Brian

  13. Paul Lee

    This is from the Liverpool Journal of Commerce, April 30th 1912: Mr.Fitzpatrick, one of the stewards, stated in an interview that on Sunday, April 14, as he was serving the lunch of the engineers' mess, the chief steward, who had been an old seafaring man, said that he knew ice was in the vicinity by the smell of the air. "We retired to our cabin, which was situated on deck above the engine room, and were settling down to sleep when we were aroused by a sudden lurch of the vessel. After a few minutes the engines were stopped. I inquired the reason for the sudden stoppage of the engines.... Read full post

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Titanic Crew Summary

Name: Mr Cecil William Fitzpatrick
Age: 21 years 11 months and 19 days (Male)
Nationality: Irish
Marital Status: Single
Last Residence: at 93 Millbrook RoadSouthampton, Hampshire, England
Occupation: Mess Steward
Last Ship: Oceanic
Embarked: Southampton
Rescued (boat B)  
Disembarked Carpathia: New York City on Thursday 18th April 1912
Buried:Killingbeck Cemetery, Leeds, Yorkshire, England

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