Encyclopedia Titanica

Charles John Rice

Titanic Fireman

Charles Rice

Mr Charles John Rice was born in Liverpool, Lancashire, England on 19 March 1880 1 and was baptised on 4 April that same year in St Sylvester's Roman Catholic church.

He was the son of Charles John Rice (b. 1857), a brick-maker and general labourer, and Mary Duffey (b. 1859). Both his parents, who had married in 1877, hailed from Liverpool and were of Irish heritage.

One of seven children, Charles' siblings were: Ann (b. 1878), Mary (b. 1882), Richard (b. 1884), Margaret (b. 1886), John Charles (b. 1889) and Alice (b. 1892).

Charles first appears on the 1881 census living at 5 Burnet Street, Liverpool but had moved to 33 Hopwood Street in that same city at the time of the 1891 census. By the time of the 1901 census the family were living at 11 Summer Street, Liverpool but Charles was absent.

He joined the Royal Navy on 13 July 1897, initially serving aboard the Northampton, also serving aboard the Venerable, Pembroke and Isis in later years before going to shore and joining the Chatham Royal Fleet Reserve on 12 August 1905. He had a spell in the Merchant Service, during which time he served aboard the Olympic. Rice's conduct in the navy was recorded as being from fair to very good but was shown to have spent numerous periods in the cells for bad behaviour. He was described as standing at 5' 2½" with light brown hair, blue eyes and a fresh complexion.

Charles later began a relationship with Mary Ann Magoolaghan, née Kinsella (b. 1875 in Liverpool). Mary Ann was born in Liverpool, the daughter of marine fireman John Kinsella and the former Jane Costello, both of Irish extraction. She had first been married in 1897 to William Magoolaghan (b. 10 July 1868 in Liverpool)2, a boilermaker, and had six children from that union: Jane (1898-1902), Mary (b. 1900), William (1901-1984)3, John (1905-1909), Henry (1906-1986) and Alfred (b. 1909). 

William Magoolaghan later abandoned his wife and children and moved to New York where he continued to work on the ocean liners and where he remarried (bigamously). His wife Mary Ann was left destitute and several of her children were shown as pauper inmates at the Southampton Union Infirmary on the 1911 census.

William Magoolaghan

William Magoolaghan in 1918 (US seaman's protection certificate)

Charles Rice and Mary Ann were apparently never officially married; they appeared on the 1911 census together, albeit listed as singletons, at the home address of Charles' sister Margaret McDonald, 39 Hook Street, Liverpool; Rice was described as a fireman. They later moved southward to Southampton.

When he signed-on to the Titanic on 6 April 1912 Rice gave his address as 12 Oriental Terrace, Southampton. He had transferred from the Olympic and as a Fireman he received monthly wages of £6.

Charles Rice was rescued in lifeboat 10; he was not called to testify to either the American or British inquiries into the sinking but did receive expenses of £7, 16s, 6d with regards to his detention for the latter. 

Following the disaster, Charles and his wife appear to have settled in Southampton for a time and had their only child in that city on Christmas Eve 1912, a daughter whom they named Christina. The family (which consisted of Mary Ann's four surviving children from her previous relationship) later moved back to Liverpool and Charles continued working at sea. 

With the outbreak of WWI Rice rejoined the Royal Navy, serving again aboard the Pembroke I and with spells aboard Cornwallis, Halcyon II, Superb and Shannon. He was demobilised on 22 February 1919 before rejoining the merchant service, appearing on shipping records for Arabic, Baltic and Belgic, among others, in the early 1920s. 

Charles remained in Liverpool for the rest of his life, later living at 173a Stanley Road. His wife Mary Ann died on 8 January 1927. He died in 1949 aged 69 and was buried in Ford Cemetery on 19 July that year in plot BA347.

His daughter Christina was married twice, first to dock labourer John Gerard Walsh (b. 11 April 1910) with whom she had three daughters: Jacqueline, Veronica and Patricia. She emigrated to the USA in 1957 and was remarried in 1961 to a Canadian man named Joseph Claveau (1914-1975) before settling in Riverside, California. She died there on 16 February 1995.


  1. Birth date given as 18 March 1880 in his circa 1919 seaman's card. His baptismal and naval records confirm the date as 19 March 1880.
  2. William Magoolaghan was born in Liverpool on 10 July 1868, the son of Henry Magoolaghan and Mary Ann Kelly. Following his separation from Mary Ann Kinsella he settled in New York. He was remarried on 17 January 1920 to Margaret Lafferty, née Casey (b. 1870), an English-born woman from Chester. He claimed to have been a widower at the time of his marriage although this was not the case. He remained with his wife in New York for the rest of his life and he died on 5 September 1947.
  3. William Magoolaghan appears to have spent time living in Southampton but later emigrated to the USA where he married and had children. He died in 1984 in Queens, New York.

References and Sources

Agreement and Account of Crew (PRO London, BT100/259)
United States Senate, Washington 1912. n° 806, Crew List
Colonel Archibald Gracie (1913) The Truth about the Titanic. New York, Mitchell Kennerley
Phot0: National Archives (Courtesy of Gavin Bell)
Search archive online

Comment and discuss

  1. Kelly Parr

    Charles Rice was my Great Grandfathers's brother.

  2. William Magoolaghan

    Attached are a photo of Charles Rice (who is basically my step-great-grandfather) and an article about his surprise reappearance. William Magoolaghan (b.1901) noted in the article above was my grandfather, and while he was a wonderful, sweet natured person, his father (William) was a piece of work who abandoned my great grandmother (Mary Ann Magoolaghan) and ended up fighting for both the British and the Americans in WWI before relocating to New York in 1918 and becoming a US citizen & remarrying. He actually had 3 more children with Mary after having my grandfather (John, 1905-1909;... Read full post

  3. William Magoolaghan

    I tried to upload a picture & article I have regarding Charles Rice. If you are interested (or if you have any photos of Charles and my great-grandmother), please contact me.

  4. Mary (2646)

    Charles Rice was my grandfather's brother (Richard Rice ) I remember him and knew his daughter Christina (Chrissie) I am also In contact with her daughters. He was a nice man and we're all proud of him .

  5. damo

    Can you contact me regarding Charles Rice please. I am related to William Magoolaghan

  6. Mark Baber

    Hello, damo, and welcome. Note that the message you're responding to is almost 5 years old and its author has not visited us since.

Reply Watch Thread

Titanic Crew Summary

Name: Mr Charles John Rice
Age: 32 years and 27 days (Male)
Nationality: English
Last Residence: at 12 Oriental Terrace Southampton, Hampshire, England
Occupation: Fireman
Embarked: Southampton
Rescued (boat 10)  
Disembarked Carpathia: New York City on Thursday 18th April 1912
Died: 1949
Buried: Ford Cemetery, Liverpool, Lancashire, England

Page Options

Watch this page

Improve this Biography

If you have any corrections or something to add please  get in touch