Charles John Joughin was born in Birkenhead, Cheshire, England on 3 August 1878. He was later baptised on 2 October that same year in St Peter's Church, Liverpool.
He was the son of John Edwin Joughin (1846-1886), a licensed victualler, and Ellen Campbell, née Crombleholme (1850-1938), natives of Liverpool and Birkenhead respectively who had married in St Catherine's Church, Liverpool on 15 June 1876.
He had four siblings: Sarah Ellen Elizabeth (1877-1936, later Mrs Fred Dunning), Theodore (1880-1915), Richard Archibald (1881-1952) and William Arthur (1886-1901). His mother had a previous marriage in 1872 to Robert William Campbell (1839-1875) and from that union Charles had two half-siblings: Robert William (1872-1874) and Mary Agnes (1874-1947).
Charles first appears on the 1881 census living with his family at 57 Eldon Street, Birkenhead, his father's profession being given as that of a "gentleman." His father died in 1886 and his mother took to nursing to make ends meet before managing a coffee shop. When the family appeared on the 1891 census they were residing at 14 Arnot (?) Street, Walton, Liverpool and Charles was described as a schoolboy. Appearing on the 1901 census, the family by then lived at 38 County Road, again in Walton, and Charles was described as a baker at sea; he appeared on numerous crew lists in 1900 and 1901 serving aboard the Majestic as extra second baker and he would go on to serve aboard the Teutonic. His mother later moved with her spinster daughter Mary and settled in Gillingham, Kent, appearing there on the 1911 census at 4 Tennyson Road.
Charles had went to sea at age 11 but was not the only seafarer in his family; his brothers Theodore and Richard were both in the Royal Navy. His brother Theodore, who had been at sea since age 16, died at sea following a fatal fall whilst aboard HMS Cornwallis on 1 March 1915; he was buried at sea.
Charles, of diminutive stature in his adulthood, stood at just 5' 3½". He was married in Liverpool on 17 November 1906 to Louise Woodward (b. 11 July 1879), a native of Douglas on the Isle of Man and the daughter of John Thomas Woodward, a ship's steward, and the former Isabella Cain.
The couple's daughter Agnes Lilian was born in Liverpool on 11 February 1907 and was followed by a son Roland Ernest (b. 15 November 1909), who was born in Southampton. Whilst Charles was absent from the 1911 census his wife and children are shown as residents of Elmhurst in Leighton Road, Shirley, Southampton.
Joughin was aboard board the Titanic for her delivery trip from Belfast to Southampton and when he signed-on in Southampton for the maiden voyage on 4 April 1912 he gave his address as Elmhurst, Leighton Road. He had transferred from the Olympic and as chief baker he received monthly wages of £12. He recalled seeing his lifeboat assignment on Thursday 11 April in the galley.
At the time of the collision Joughin was off duty and in his bunk, situated amidships adjacent to the engine casing on the portside along Scotland Road. The impact startled him and he rose immediately; hearing no official orders, only murmurs of what was happening which he described as "general orders" from up top, he began to make preparations to provision the lifeboats with bread sometime around 12.15 am; he mustered his thirteen staff in the bakers' shop on D-deck and had each carry four loaves of bread apiece up to the boat deck to place in the boats; he then appears to have returned to his cabin for short while; proceeding to E-deck on his way to his quarters from the bakers' shop he noticed some third class women carrying their belongings come up along Scotland Road and pass through the "emergency door" that connected the working alleyway to the forward second class staircase; a short stop in the D-deck kitchen area was also met with third class passengers attempting to navigate their way to the boats; he also witnessed the interpreter steward Ludwig Müller attempting, with the help of other stewards, to assist non-English-speaking passengers at the aft-end of Scotland Road. Whilst in his cabin Joughin admitted to having "a drink."
Joughin eventually arrived at the boat deck around 12.30 am and went to his assigned boat, number 10 where he described a large number of passengers gathered with Chief Officer Wilde conducting affairs, he shouting at the stewards to keep the men back. Joughin pointed out that there was no need for such orders as the men stayed back calmly and there was no panic or rushing. He assisted some stewards and seamen in passing women and children into the boat and described the boat becoming only half full when they had difficulty finding anymore women in the area willing to go, some running away stating that they were safer where they were. He and three or four other crew descended to A-deck in search of more women and children and spotted several sitting or squatting on the bare deck, many with no inclination of leaving; he and the other crew rounded the stragglers up, some forcibly, and took them up to the boat deck, he escorting one mother and her child and another women with her two children whilst other crewmen escorted others. The list to port by this point left lifeboat ten swinging about a yard and a half from the ship's side and some women and children had to be thrown into the boat. One woman that he had brought up, along with her child, attempted to step into the boat herself but, perhaps misjudging her footing, slipped between the lifeboat and the side of the ship, miraculously being caught by steward William Burke. The unfortunate woman hung upside down for a while before being hauled aboard into A-deck; Joughin had no recollection of seeing her again, with William Burke corroborating the fact that the woman did not return to the boat deck whilst he was there.
Although Joughin was apparently supposed to be in command of boat 10 an officer (presumably Wilde) ordered William Burke and two seamen into the boat but Joughin received no such orders and remained on deck before returning once again to his cabin for another touch of liquor; a small amount of water was already starting to engulf his quarters by this stage, enough to cover his feet and crew were working on manually closing the watertight doors. Whilst in his cabin Joughin spotted Dr O'Loughlin and the two fleetingly conversed before he returned to the boat deck by which point he assumed all the lifeboats had left. Joughin then descended to the B-deck second class promenade where a number of other people had gathered, noting that the list to port had increased; here he began throwing deck chairs through the large ports, which he estimated to be fifty in total, hoping to give himself something to cling to when he eventually jumped overboard.
With other things on his mind though Joughin once again scaled a staircase to A-deck and went to a deck pantry (presumably that located just aft of the first class lounge) where he got himself glass of water; whilst doing so he heard a booming crash as if the ship had buckled somewhere, with the sound of twisting and breaking metal rumbling through the ship. This was followed by an overhead rush of footsteps; leaving the pantry Joughin witnessed large numbers of people pouring down from the boat deck, presumably down the small staircase that ran flush with the third funnel and perhaps over the side from above, and he assumed they were trying to make their way to the poop deck. Whilst trying to stay out of the crush of people he followed them towards the well deck; only moments before reaching there the ship lurched heavily to port, throwing the crowd he was following into a pile. Avoiding their fate, he climbed out onto the starboard hull and carefully navigated his way to the poop deck, continuing to straddle the side of the ship before grasping hold of the railings, later maintaining that the ship did not achieve a perpendicular stance before plunging. Not seeing anyone around him he began to wonder what to do next; he wasted precious moments transferring items from one pocket to another and tightened his belt when he felt the ship slide and he found himself in the water although he was not pulled under and barely got his head wet.
Joughin, apparently a strong swimmer, estimated that he was paddling and treading water for about two hours and with day breaking before he encountered a collapsible boat, although this timing is highly questionable. Initially spying what he believed to be some wreckage, Joughin began to swim toward the mass but slowly and only when he got near enough did he recognise it as a collapsible boat, half-submerged and lying on its side and with an officer (Lightoller) and an estimated 20-25 men standing atop it, leaving no room for himself to board safely. In an attempt to pull himself aboard he told that he was pushed off again so he hung around waiting and swam to the opposite side where Isaac Maynard recognised him and extended his hand to him. Joughin remained in the water, holding Maynard's hand, until another lifeboat came within fifty yards of the submerged collapsible, calling out that they could take ten people. He immediately let go of Maynard's grasp and swam towards the boat and was pulled in, later stating that he felt colder whilst in that lifeboat than he had been when in the water. Upon reaching the Carpathia Joughin felt well, apart from swollen feet and had to tackle the ladder up the side of the ship on his knees.
Following recuperation in New York Joughin returned to England; he was called to testify at the British Inquiry into the sinking on 10 May 1912.
After the disaster Joughin and his family returned to Liverpool and he also spent time working aboard Olympic. The outbreak of war in Europe in 1914 saw him serving with the marine fleet during the conflict and during that time he would survive further calamity when, on 14 September 1916, he was baker aboard the SS Congress which was en route from San Francisco to Seattle. Whilst between 30-50 miles off shore the ship caught fire in one of the holds and soon spread, later destroying the ship. The quick-thinking captain made an attempt to beach the vessel and was successful (not a single life was lost), with Joughin escaping in one of the lifeboats in the process:
Seven lifeboats were lowered, and women and children were put into them without disorder. In the transfer of those aboard to the Michie only one mishap occurred. Charles Joughin, who was a baker on the Congress, fell into the water while attempting to enter a lifeboat. He was picked up without having suffered injury. - Salt Lake Tribune, 15 September 1916
Safe back in Britain by 1919, Charles and his family were expecting another addition to the family; his wife Louise was carrying their third child but died from complications in childbirth and her new son, Richard, was also lost.
Shortly after his loss Charles, leaving his two surviving children in Liverpool, resettled in Paterson, Passaic, New Jersey around in the early 1920s and began working on mainly US ships; he declared his intention of becoming a US citizen in June 1927 and this was finalised in June 1930. As a seaman and an American citizen, in 1931 he completed a US seaman's passport; at the time he was working aboard the ship American Banker and was described as standing at 5' 4" and having grey hair, brown eyes and a ruddy complexion.
He was remarried on 10 September 1925 to Annie Eleanor "Nellie" Howarth Coll, née Ripley1 (b. 29 December 1870)2, a native of Leeds, Yorkshire who had first come to the USA in 1888. Nellie was a widow twice over and had a daughter, Rose (b. 1891); she had lived at 574 East 23rd Street in Paterson for many years and this is where Charles would live for the rest of his life.
Whilst in the USA Joughin served as a baker aboard a number of ships, appearing on crew lists for: Fort Victoria (1920-1921, Kroonland (1923-1924), Mongolia (1925-1926), Belgenland (1927), American Banker (1928-1929), American Trader (1928-1939), Manila (1940), City of Los Angeles (1940), Jamaica (1941), Deer Lodge (1941) and Pan Rhode Island (1943). Throughout this, and towards the tail-end of his career, Joughin would face further disaster; on 10 December 1941 the US freighter SS Oregon, just south of Nantucket Lightship, was accidentally rammed by USS New Mexico and sank. There were seventeen fatalities but Charles Joughin was named as a survivor3.
Charles was widowed for a second time on 22 April 1944 when his wife Nellie died, a loss from which he never fully recovered. He also outlived his son Roland. During the 1950s he would communicate with Walter Lord when he was writing A Night to Remember but he never lived to see the full fruits of Lord's endeavour.
With a colourful life under his belt, Charles Joughin died at the Barnert Memorial Hospital on 9 December 1956 and was buried with his wife Nellie in Cedar Lawn Cemetery in Paterson. His occupation was given on his death certificate as "Baker on Titanic" and his estate was divided between his daughter Agnes and his step-daughter Rose.
Joughin would go on to be portrayed in A Night to Remember (1958) by George Rose and in Titanic (1997) by Irish actor Liam Tuohy. In both films (although in the latter his scenes were largely cut) he was shown as being inebriated at the time of the sinking; although Joughin openly admitted to having taken liquor that night he always maintained that he was not intoxicated and fully aware of events.
His son Roland, like his father, went to sea as a young man and attained the rank of chief steward, appearing on shipping records into the early 1950s. He never married and died in Liverpool on 2 August 1955.
His daughter Agnes was married in 1936 to George Alfred Horner (1908-1972) but had no known children. She remained in Liverpool where she died on 25 November 1973.