Mr Edward Brown was born in Holyhead, Anglesey, Wales on 20 March 1878. He was the son of Hugh Jones Brown (1833-1887) and Margaret Williams (1845-1898), both Holyhead-natives who had married in Bangor in 1869.
Edward had at least three siblings: Thomas (b. 1871), Ann (b. 1874) and Hugh (b. 1882).
He first appears on the 1881 census living at 26 Cross Street, Holyhead with his mother and siblings but his mariner father was not present. The family were still at the same address for the 1891 and 1901 census returns but by the latter both Edward's parents were deceased. He was described as a barman in the 1901 census and went to sea around 1904, first serving for the Dominion Line.
He initially signed-on to the Titanic in Belfast for her delivery trip to Southampton. When he signed-on for the second time in Southampton on 4 April 1912, he gave his address as 43 Suffolk Avenue, Southampton, the home address of fellow crewmembers, brothers Arthur and Benjamin McMicken. Brown had served as a steward on board several White Star ships before the Titanic, among them the Cedric, Teutonic, Oceanic, Adriatic, and, most recently, the Olympic. As a first class steward he received £3 15s per month.
During the course of the voyage Brown had checked to see his assigned lifeboat in the pantry, noting it was boat 5.
On the night of Sunday 14 April Brown was off duty and asleep but was awakened by the collision but he initially believed that there was no danger. After about 20 minutes orders filtered down that the stewards were to assemble at the boat deck.
Brown prepared and went to his assigned boat which he helped to load but saw off without getting into it, offering to reason at the inquiry as to why not. He presumably helped fill and see off other boats and later assisted at collapsible C late in the proceedings, helping see the boat hooked into lifeboat 1's vacant davits and slung over the side.
As boat C was being loaded Brown recalled Ismay calling out for women and children first. He stated Ismay got into the collapsible and assisted women and children enter before the boat was lowered away. Brown's evidence offers up a different and less dramatic version of Ismay's escape; according to him Ismay was in the lifeboat for some time, helping others cross into the boat and did not, as many outlets would otherwise state, step into the boat as it was lowered.
After boat C was lowered Brown stated that he and others turned their attention to working on collapsible A which was housed atop the officer's quarters, the men using two planks they'd procured from somewhere near the bow and sliding the boat down to the boat deck. Their attempts to hook that boat up to the davits proved more troublesome, however, as a growing list to starboard prevented them from being able to get it to the davits. Only with the falls slackened off did they manage to get the boat secured but the growing list made sure that the men working there were unable to sling the boat outboard as would be normal.
Brown reported that the Captain passed by around this time, megaphone in hand, saying to them "Well, boys, do your best for the women and children, and look out for yourselves." before walking towards the bridge. He also observed a group of four or five women stood nearby waiting to board the collapsible but during the struggle to get the boat ready to launch the ship plunged and the bridge and forward boat deck was inundated.
Brown, presumably situated at the after fall, found himself knee-deep in seawater and managed to pull himself into the collapsible boat where he then cut through the aft-fall before calling out to someone situated forward to do the same but he could not say if anyone complied as he was washed out of the boat at that point and he saw the handful of women who had been waiting nearby struggling in the water nearby himself.
Whilst in the water Brown reported being caught in a whirlpool of water due to the suction and was dragged down a bit before coming up again. He heard a large rumbling or explosion after resurfacing and saw a lot of people in the water nearby, the lights of the ship still burning, and related that he believed the bow separated from stern at this point.
Situated near the forward funnel of the ship Brown saw a black object ahead of him and did his best to make towards it. Brown, who was unable to swim, later credited his lifebelt for his salvation and he was able to pull himself toward collapsible A which was half-submerged and which he estimated had 16 or 17 persons aboard it. During the night they pulled a woman (Rhoda Abbott) and "a very big gentleman" from the ocean. He recalled three stewards and one fireman aboard, the rest being passengers and he recalled barber August Weikman and steward William Watson Lucas being among the crowd. The occupants were later rescued by boat 14 sometime after daylight.
Safely in boat 14 Brown found his hands and feet had swollen, the latter bloated enough to have burst his boots. Despite that he volunteered to take an oar and situated himself on the portside.
Although not required to give evidence at the American Inquiry, upon return to Britain Edward was called to give evidence to the British Inquiry on day 9.
Edward continued to work at sea; by 1920 he was a saloon steward aboard Cretic and immigration records at the time describe him as standing at 5' 8½" and weighing 140 lbs. In 1924 he was working as a bedroom steward aboard Laconia.
He was married in 1919 to Bertha Holden (b. 10 May 1890 in Liverpool) and the couple had a daughter the following year, Elizabeth Margaret (b. 26 January 1920).
Edward Brown c.1920
Family believe that the Titanic disaster had an adverse effect on Edward's health and this contributed to his early death in Liverpool on 3 June 1926.
Edward's widow Bertha was remarried in 1930 to John Maddison (b. 21 April 1875), a cold storage labourer. They remained in Liverpool and Bertha died there in 1976. His daughter Elizabeth later worked as a grocer's assistant and was married in 1940 to Robert J. Parry. She died in Porthmadog, Wales in December 1990.