Encyclopedia Titanica

George Francis 'Paddy' McGough

Able Seaman

George Francis 'Paddy' McGough
George Francis 'Paddy' McGough

Mr George Francis "Paddy" McGough was born in Duncannon, Co Wexford, Ireland, reportedly on 4 July 1875.1  There is no record of his birth and details about his parents and any siblings he may have had remain unknown.

Possibly hailing from a seafaring family, McGough went to sea at a young age. In March 1900 he was charged with the murder of a shipmate aboard the collier Rustington, then berthed at the port of Santos in São Paulo, Brazil. After a night out drinking, he had returned to his ship and challenged his shipmates to a fight; a fireman named John Dwyer tried to persuade McGough to return to his bunk but McGough instead butted him in the stomach and tipped him into an open hold. Dwyer fell 20 feet and was found bleeding profusely, dying shortly after.

PERSON IN CUSTODY 

Hampshire - Committed for trial at next Hampshire assizes for murder on board ship – GEORGE FRANCIS MCGOUGH, age 25, height 5'4", complexion fresh, hair light brown, eyes blue, cut scar right side of head, American coat of arms on left forearm, bust of woman in centre of bracelet both wrists, star between left thumb and forefinger, anchor back left hand, woman and basket of flowers right arm, Eagle and anchor right forearm, anchor between right thumb and forefinger, star on both shoulders and insteps, 10 scars on left leg, 3 on right; dress, black diagonal coat, blue serge vest and trousers, Black cloth peak cap, lace boots. An Able seaman; native of Duncannon, Wexford. Information to the chief constable, Southampton. — The Police Gazette,  4 May 1900

At the Hampshire Assize on 2 July 1900 he was cleared of murder but convicted of manslaughter on the high seas and sentenced to 15 months' imprisonment with hard labour. 

It was while detained at His majesty's pleasure at Winchester Prison that George McGough was recorded on the night of the 1901 census. After his release, he resumed his seagoing career but in October 1910 he was convicted for the sexual assault on 2 August 1910 of a twelve-year-old girl named Lilly Beatrice Harper and sentenced to 3 months' hard labour.

By the time of the 1911 census McGough was living at 8 St George's Street and listed with him were Beatrice Gannaway, a servant, and a friend named Jeremiah Donoon, a marine fireman. Early the following year he would marry Miss Gannaway. Beatrice Nellie Gannaway (b. 6 November 1885) was a native of Southampton and was the daughter of dock stevedore John Gannaway and the former Eliza Daniels. Her niece was Lilly Beatrice Harper, the girl that Paddy had been convicted of assaulting just over a year before. 

When he signed on to the Titanic on 6 April 1912, McGough gave his address as 15 St George's Street, Southampton; he stated his age as 25 when in fact he was in his 30s. As an able seaman, he could expect monthly wages of £5.

McGough was rescued in lifeboat 9 and took charge of the tiller. Second class passenger Bertha Watt recalled:

The fellow at the tiller was an Irishman. Paddy had no authority, he was just a deckhand. He was wonderful, telling me about the stars.

When Bertha thought she saw land, he explained that what she could see was an icefield.

Nearby, first class passenger Mrs Lily May Futrelle complained that the man near her had entered the boat under false pretences, claiming he could row, when he could not. McGough told her, “Madame, he wants to save his life as much as you do yours.” At dawn, the sight of the Carpathia  steaming towards the survivors raised everyone’s spirits, and McGough exclaimed, “Let us pray to God, for there is a ship on the horizon and it’s making for us.”

McGough returned to England aboard the Lapland with other crew. He was not called as a witness to either the US or British inquiries into the sinking but did give brief interviews to the media at the time.

Paddy McGough after his rescue

Patrick McGough [ic], an Irish seaman, said that no one was killed by the collision. “When I left the Titanic,” he said, “She was down to below the forecastle. I saw her back break, and I heard an explosion either of her main steam pipe or of the boilers. I last saw Mr Murdoch (first officer) when he was lowering No. 15 boat and keeping back some Italians. From the boat deck I distinctly saw Captain Smith at some distance swimming towards another boat. When they reached out to help him he shouted to them, ‘Look after yourselves men. Don’t mind me. God bless you.’ The he threw up his hands and disappeared.” — Oxfordshire Weekly News, 1 May 1912

McGough would later serve as a crewman aboard the Lapland, as well as throughout his long career the Llanstephan Castle, Briton, Tagus, Minnekahda, Fort St. George, Oropesa and Corbis

In October 1915 McGough, then a resident of Oriental Terrace, Southampton, was sentenced to 14 days’ hard labour on account of a drunken altercation with some Greek seamen. 

Paddy and his wife Nellie had no children together and it would appear that they spent much of their later lives living separately. Paddy did become a father, however, when in 1920 his daughter Eileen Beatrice was welcomed; the child’s mother was Southampton-teenager Agnes Fanny Harper (b. 21 October 1903-d. 1981), his wife Beatrice’s niece2 and the sister of Lilly Beatrice Harper who McGough had assaulted in October 1910. 

Agnes Fanny Harper later married Frederick Watts in 1933, with who she had a further two children; the family were listed on the 1939 register at Castle Cottage, Porter’s Lane, Southampton, the home address of Paddy McGough’s wife Beatrice. The nature of this arrangement remains ambiguous. 

Beatrice McGough remained in Southampton where she died in 1965. Paddy remained at sea for much of his life and by 1939 was a lodger in a seaman’s home in West Ham, Essex and he apparently remained a resident of that county until his death. 

George Francis “Paddy” McGough died at the Essex County Hospital in Wanstead (modern-day Wanstead Hospital) on 6 May 1940 and he was buried in Chingford Mount Cemetery, Essex (now Greater London, section G13, C/R 36420) on 14 May.

His daughter Eileen married in 1939 to Wilfred “William” Rouland Brunsdon (b. 1917), a timber labourer and they raised a family. Eileen died in Southampton on 17 June 2009 aged 89.

Notes

  1. The 1919 dated CR10 identity card gives his birthdate as 4 July 1875.  The date 12 February 1873 has also been recorded (in a 1920 Lapland ship's manifest). The 1939 register gives the date as 12 December 1873. His age at the time of death was stated as 66 years. 
  2. Lily Beatrice Harper and Agnes Fanny Harper were the daughters of George Harper and Beatrice’s elder sister Eliza.

Titanic Crew Summary

Name: Mr George Francis 'Paddy' McGough
Age: 36 years 9 months and 11 days (Male)
Nationality: Irish
Marital Status: Married to Beatrice Nellie Gannaway
Occupation: Able Seaman
Last Ship: Hermione
Embarked: Southampton on Saturday 6th April 1912
Rescued (boat 9)  
Disembarked Carpathia: New York City on Thursday 18th April 1912
Died: Monday 6th May 1940 aged 64 years
Buried: Chingford Mount Cemetery, Chingford, Essex, England

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References and Sources

1901 Census
Criminal Registers (National Archives)
Able-bodied Seaman George Francis McGough by Hugh McGough (www.magoo.com)
Hampshire Independent, 2 October 1915, Seamen’s Altercation

Research Articles

Senan Molony Titanica! (2008) McGough the Key?
Senan Molony Titanica! (2008) McGough the Killer

Newspaper Articles

Shields Daily Gazette (12 April 1900) FATAL QUARREL ON BOARD SHIP
Hampshire Advertiser (21 April 1900) THE CHARGE OF MURDERING A SEAMAN
Hampshire Advertiser (28 April 1900) CHARGE OF MURDER AGAINST A SEAMAN AT SOUTHAMPTON
Hampshire Advertiser (2 May 1900) A SEAMAN CHARGED WITH MURDER AT SOUTHAMPTON
York Herald (3 July 1900) MANSLAUGHTER ON THE HIGH SEAS
Hampshire Advertiser (4 July 1900) Manslaughter on the High Seas - McGough Murder Charge

Images

Cheltenham Looker-On (1912) Titanic Firemen Thomas Threlfall and George McGough

Documents and Certificates

Central Register of Merchant Seamen (including CR10 Identity Cards), Southampton City Archives / National Archives, (BT348, BT349, BT350)

Miscellaneous

(1910) George McGough : Criminal Register 1910

Bibliography

Craig Stringer (2003) Titanic People (CDROM)
Search archive online

Comment and discuss

  1. Gaston Sam

    Gaston Sam said:

    Maybe the most difficult case to solve among the survivng ABs of whom we have evidence from testimonies is that of George McGough. And anyone who did research might have ended up with the hypothesis that switched the lifeboats launching order putting boat 14 ahead of 9 (based on the testimonies of Scarrott and Haines). Nevertheless, another launching sequence hypothesis states that it was the opposite of the above and sounds pretty reasonable too: based on greaser Scott's testimony, who climbed up to the boat deck and saw no boats on the starboard side and a couple boats left on port,... Read full post

  2. Ioannis Georgiou

    Ioannis Georgiou said:

    I do not know what Haines had to do with it. From what I see the statement that boat 14 went ahead of boat No. 9 and thus the aft port side boats left before the starboard one is only based on Scarrott mentioning... Read full post

  3. Gaston Sam

    Gaston Sam said:

    Haines mentioned McGough being at 9. I agree with you Scarrott was mistaken; maybe he was talking about McCarthy, who left later in lifeboat 4.

  4. Ioannis Georgiou

    Ioannis Georgiou said:

    I see what you mean now. Haines was not the only one, it were also Kemish, Watt and Futrelle (I think I forget another one) who mentioned McGough in No.9. Still I think Scarrott was mistaken. I do not know about McCarthy (there is no report if he has anything to do with the lowering of No. 14) possibly it was someone who look similar like McGough. What I am wonder is how Scarrott recognize McGough who was "lowering the after-fall" of Boat No. 14. According to Scarrott he saw him doing so when No. 14 hung up about 10 feet over the water surface. Even with the port list I am still wondering... Read full post

  5. George Jacub

    George Jacub said:

    This thread should be called Frederick Scott, the Key, because his testimony puts the final nail in the coffin of the argument that the port boats aft were lowered (except No. 10) before the starboard aft lifeboats. Note also the context of the Scarrott/McGough "evidence". Scarrott doesn't say he saw McGough lowering his boat. Scarrott was describing how the lowering of No. 14 stopped abruptly, leaving the boat at a 45 degree angle, with the forward end low and the aft end high. He was blaming McGough for the uneven lowering. "Her after-fall then would be about ten feet - we had about ten... Read full post

  6. Ioannis Georgiou

    Ioannis Georgiou said:

    Scarrott doesn't say he saw McGough lowering his boat. Scarrott was describing how the lowering of No. 14 stopped abruptly, leaving the boat at a 45 degree angle, with the forward end low and the aft end high. He was blaming McGough for the uneven lowering. "Her after-fall then would be about ten feet - we had about ten feet to go on the after-fall. Our boat was at an angle of pretty well 45 degrees. I called Mr. Lowe's attention to it. He said, "Why don't they lower away aft?" I know the man that was lowering the after-fall, it was... Read full post

  7. George Jacub

    George Jacub said:

    For the record, here's McGough's account of the events aboard the sinking Titanic. (Posted in two parts to fit.) THE EVENING WORLD, SATURDAY, APRIL 20, 1912. NEW THRILLING STORIES OF AWFUL DISASTER HEROIC WOMEN IN BOATS AT OARS ALL NIGHT LONG SEAMAN TELLS THE STORY - McGaugh, Who Saw Captain and Chief Officer Go to Death, Gives Vivid Recital of Last Moments of the Great Sea Tragedy. Here is the story of the wreck of the Titanic told by one of the... Read full post

  8. George Jacub

    George Jacub said:

    THE EVENING WORLD, SATURDAY, APRIL 20, 1912. NEW THRILLING STORIES OF AWFUL DISASTER HEROIC WOMEN IN BOATS AT OARS ALL NIGHT LONG SEAMAN TELLS THE STORY GOT OFF ALL THE COLLAPSIBLE BOATS BUT ONE. (part two and final) "Murdock, with Chief Officer Wilde and Second Officer Lightoller, went to attend to the manning of the collapsible boats. They got them all off but one, as I have said. This is the one which was capsized and which now lay on the deck. Mr. Murdock had overlooked nothing that could help save the pas- sengers when the final moment came. He ordered doors, chairs, chests of... Read full post

  9. Ioannis Georgiou

    Ioannis Georgiou said:

    From what I see the starboard aft boats left before the port aft ones. No. 10 was most likely the last one on the aft port side. There was a list to port when Nos. 10, 12 & 14 were loaded and lowered, the first mention of a port list at the starboard side was at boat No. 15. Nos. 9, 11 & 13 left before the port list... Read full post

  10. George Jacub

    George Jacub said:

    One. Two. Three. One. The lifeboat was in danger of tipping as it had reached a 45 degree angle and was still ten feet from the ocean. Two. The cause was with the after-fall, prompting Lowe to ask "Why don't they lower away aft?" Three. Scarrott identified McGough as the man responsible for the after-fall, and hence the state of the lifeboat. As for the twist in the rope, that was denied... Read full post

  11. Ioannis Georgiou

    Ioannis Georgiou said:

    One and two can be ignored. Regarding Three; Clear Cameron (2nd class passenger in No. 14);... Read full post

  12. George Jacub

    George Jacub said:

    So two civilians and a guy who cleaned the bathrooms knew more than the Officer of the ship with 11 years experience at sea. How about that! And it must have been a great surprise to Fifth Officer Lowe to find out he cut the ropes. He forgot all about that when he testified before the British Inquiry.

  13. Gaston Sam

    Gaston Sam said:

    Maybe Lowe was just covering some failures of the ship to protect the WSL name and his future career.

  14. Gaston Sam

    Gaston Sam said:

    That's a nice account McGough gave. If we are to rely on it then he probably left in lifeboat 4 and that would justify his presence at 14, but again we had some four survivors reporting the man in lifeboat 9... hello Mr. Gordian-knot

  15. Ioannis Georgiou

    Ioannis Georgiou said:

    Who said that Lowe cut the ropes? It was Scarrott who did that! Lowe possibly did not see that there was something with the falls and he did not know why it did now lowered further. So how this had to do with experience at sea????? ... Read full post

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Acknowledgements

Trevor Baxter, UK
Gavin Bell, UK
Peter Engberg-Klarström, Sweden
Hugh McGough
Senan Molony, Ireland