Encyclopedia Titanica

Charles Eugene Williams

Charles Eugene Williams
Charles Eugene Williams

Mr Charles Eugene Williams was born in Brompton, London, England on 28 July 1888.

He was the son of a Welsh father Edmund Williams (b. 1847) and a French-born mother of Welsh parentage, Elizabeth Holland (b. 1858), both tailors. He had three known siblings: Amy (b. 1882), Ellen (b. 1891) and James (b. 1893). The family appear on the 1901 census living at 5 Cottage Place, Westminster. 

A racquet player, Williams began his career as a ball boy at London's exclusive Prince's Club before turning professional. In January 1911 he competed in and won the Open Championship of England, defeating Edgar Maximilian Baerlein; only a few months later he was the challenger for the World Championship against the titleholder, India's Jamsetji Merwanji. He won the first round at the Queen's Club and then in the second round played out a draw at the Prince's Club after he had already secured the one game he needed to claim the outright title, becoming the world champion.

Charles was married in the second half of 1910 to Lois Wilkins (b. 27 January 1888), a native of Chelsea, London and the daughter of carpenter and joiner John Wilkins and his wife Leah Stevens. Their first child, Eugene Charles arrived on 29 March 1911 1 and the family appeared on the census that year living at 2 Drury Road, Harrow, London and Williams was described as a racquet professional at Harrow School; their young son was by then still unnamed. 

Williams boarded the Titanic at Southampton as a second class passenger (ticket number 244373 which cost £13) and was travelling to New York to defend his title against George E. Standing. 

On the night of 14 April Williams left the squash racquet court at 10.30 pm and had settled in the smoking room. Following the collision he rushed out and saw the iceberg which he said rose a hundred feet above the deck and broke up amidships before drifting away. He is believed to have been rescued in lifeboat 14 but contemporary media initially reported him as among the lost.

Mr Peterman, hon. secretary of the Racquets Association, stated last night that he received a cable from Williams, the professional racquets champion, who was on board the Titanic. Williams was to have played a match in New York against G. Standing on April 29 for the championship of the world. The cable reads: "Match postponed; return next week. Williams." 
Daily Sketch, 20 April 1912

Charles returned to his wife and son in England and went on to expand his family, having a further five children: Ninian (b. 1913), John (b. 1915), Dorothy2 (1917-1998), Jean (b. 1920) and Hilda Theresa3 (1921-1981).

Charles and his family later emigrated; they arrived in New York aboard Olympic on 29 July 1924 and made their home in Chicago. The family appear on the 1930 census living at 5524 Lakewood Avenue, Chicago and was described as a tennis instructor; he would live at that address for the rest of his life.

Charles died from Bronchial pneumonia on 27 October 1935 and was buried three days later in Rosehill Cemetery, Chicago. 

His widow Lois remained on Lakewood Avenue for a time before moving to Evanstown, Illinois where she lived out the remainder of her life. Having never remarried she died on 25 November 1959 and was buried with Charles in Rosehill Cemetery.
 

Notes

  1. Eugene married Sylvia Emma Langford and raised a family. He married a second time before his death in Proviso, Illinois on 30 January 1971.
  2. Later Mrs Finnessey; she died in Grand Junction, Colorado on 15 January 1998.
  3. Hilda died in Atlanta, Georgia on 24 April 1981.

Titanic Passenger Summary

Name: Mr Charles Eugene Williams
Age: 23 years 8 months and 18 days (Male)
Nationality: English
Marital Status: Married to Lois Wilkins
Last Residence: in Harrow, Middlesex, England
Occupation: Sportsman
Embarked: Southampton on Wednesday 10th April 1912
Ticket No. 244373, £13
Rescued (boat 14)  
Disembarked Carpathia: New York City on Thursday 18th April 1912
Died: Sunday 27th October 1935 aged 47 years
Cause of Death:
Buried: Rosehill Cemetery, Chicago, Illinois, United States, on Wednesday 30th October 1935

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References and Sources

Contract Ticket List, White Star Line 1912 (National Archives, New York; NRAN-21-SDNYCIVCAS-55[279])
Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News, 20 April 1912
The Times (London), 20 April 1912
Daily Sketch (London), 20 April 1912
Philadelphia Enquirer, 16 January 1913
Jay Henry Mowbray (ed.) (1998) Sinking of the Titanic, Eyewitness Accounts. Dover Publications, Mineaola, N.Y. ISBN 0 486 40298 3

Newspaper Articles

Chicago Tribune (18 April 1912) CHAMPION AT RACQUETS LOST.
Chicago Daily Journal (19 April 1912) LEAPS FROM THE SHIP
The Times (20 April 1912) OTHER STATEMENTS BY SURVIVORS
Chicago Daily News (29 October 1935) Charles Williams Obituary
Chicago Tribune (30 October 1935) World Racquets title holder to be buried today

Images

Charles Eugene Williams
Bedfordshire Mercury (1912) Charles Williams, English Racquets Champion
Brooklyn Daily Eagle (1922) Charles Williams in 1922
Chicago Tribune (1925) FAMOUS RACQUET PLAYERS IN CHICAGO
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Comment and discuss

  1. Arun Vajpey

    Arun Vajpey said:

    who survived on Lifeboat #14. In fact Williams and Masabumi Hosono (#10) were the only two male adult Second Class passengers who survived on port side lifeboats. I am interested in finding out how Williams made it into Lifeboat #14 where no men passengers were allowed to enter even though there was room. In his testimony at he American Inquiry, Fifth Officer Lowe claimed that he took on Williams to help with the... Read full post

  2. George Jacub

    George Jacub said:

    Just by coincidence I was recently finishing a research project for my blog where I was confronted with the very question of how Charles Willaims got into Lifeboat No.14. There are two options: A, where Williams got off the Titanic in No. 14, then, when Lowe was transferring his passengers to other lifeboats before heading to find survivors, Williams offered to stay in the boat. Or... B, where Williams got off the ship in one of the other lifeboats into which Lowe transferred his passengers---Collapsible D, LIfeboat No. 12, Lifeboat No. 4 and Lifeboat No. 10---and Williams volunteered... Read full post

  3. Seumas

    Seumas said:

    Your reasons for Williams being in Boat 12 are based more on wild opinion rather than facts. Opinions don't count for anything.

  4. Arun Vajpey

    Arun Vajpey said:

    It is a bit confusing but I did read Lowe's testimony at the American Inquiry carefully. In copying and pasting that excerpt from Lowe's testimony, I did not edit anything out. If we read the sequence of Senator Smith's questioning, it takes Lowe from the time he loaded the lifeboat, finding of the "Italian" male passenger dressed like a woman etc and then says that he took on another male passenger - Charles Williams - to help with the rowing. To my mind, that sounds like that was just as Lifeboat #14 was being launched and not later. There is a supporting statement to that... Read full post

  5. George Jacub

    George Jacub said:

    It is a bit confusing but I did read Lowe's testimony at the American Inquiry carefully. In copying and pasting that excerpt from Lowe's testimony, I did not edit anything out. If we read the sequence of Senator Smith's questioning, it takes Lowe from the time he loaded the lifeboat, finding of the "Italian" male passenger dressed like a woman etc and then says that he took on another male passenger - Charles Williams - to help with the rowing. To my mind, that sounds like that was just as Lifeboat #14 was being launched and not... Read full post

  6. Seumas

    Seumas said:

    What makes you think you know better ?

  7. Seumas

    Seumas said:

    ss, checked their information sources as thoroughly as possible. They go to painstaking lengths to verify their information and provide source material... Read full post

  8. George Jacub

    George Jacub said:

    ss, checked their information sources as thoroughly as possible. They go to painstaking lengths to verify their information and provide source material... Read full post

  9. Arun Vajpey

    Arun Vajpey said:

    and believe that they went further than anyone else to gather as much information as possible and presented it very well. The did not invent their own events at any stage. I don't believe that Charles... Read full post

  10. Tad G. Fitch

    Tad G. Fitch said:

    Interesting that the testimony of Lowe is being downplayed, and my co-authors and I are being accused of making things up. If you believe a press article that claims Captain Smith rescued a baby, and then pushed away from the lifeboat, essentially giving up on surviving after being told that Murdoch shot himself, preferring that version to actual inquiry testimony, then there truly is no point to this discussion. Another quote attributed to Williams has him claiming that he spent the night in a lifeboat with water up to his knees, which fits only Collapsible A. Again, not credible given... Read full post

  11. Arun Vajpey

    Arun Vajpey said:

    have done, going to painstaking lengths to consider every point, getting all possibilities together and then try to analyse the most likely outcome. The best example for this is the so-called "Officer Shooting Incident" where survivor accounts are divided... Read full post

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Credits

Gavin Bell, UK
Peter Engberg-Klarström, Sweden
Jim Kalafus, USA

Link and cite this biography

Encyclopedia Titanica (2018) Charles Eugene Williams (ref: #606, last updated: 28th January 2018, accessed 30th November 2021 06:02:58 AM)
URL : https://www.encyclopedia-titanica.org/titanic-survivor/charles-eugene-williams.html