Mr 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.


  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.


Chicago Tribune  (1925) 
Charles Williams in 1922
Brooklyn Daily Eagle  (1922) 
Charles Williams, English Racquets Champion
Bedfordshire Mercury  (1912) 
Charles Eugene Williams

Articles and Stories

Chicago Tribune (1935) 
Chicago Daily News (1935) 
The Times (1912) 
Chicago Daily Journal (1912) 
Chicago Tribune (1912) 

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

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
Search archive British newspapers online

Link and cite this biography

Encyclopedia Titanica (2018) Charles Eugene Williams (ref: #606, last updated: 28th January 2018, accessed 19th January 2021 05:35:29 AM)