George Francis 'Paddy' McGough

George McGough

Mr George Francis "Paddy" McGough was born in Duncannon, Co Wexford, Ireland on 4th July 1875.1

He went to sea but in March 1900, when aged only 25, he was charged with the murder of a shipmate aboard the collier Rustington, while berthed at Santos Harbour, 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 go 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, he died moments later.

At the Hampshire Assize in 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 as 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 1910 he was convicted of a sexual assault on a victim named Lily Harper (age unknown) and sentenced to 3 months' hard labour.

In the 1911 census he was living at 8 St George's Street, listed with him were Beatrice Gannaway, a servant, and a friend named Jermia Donoon.  Early the following year he would marry Beatrice Nellie Gannaway (1886-1965), they are thought to have had no children.

When he signed on to the Titanic as an Able Bodied Seaman on 6th April 1912, he gave his address as 15 St George's Street, Southampton, he gave his age as 25 when he was in fact in his late 30s.

He was rescued in lifeboat 9 and took charge of the tiller. Second class passenger, Robertha 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 after his rescue

McGough returned to England aboard the Lapland with other crew. He would later serve as a crewman aboard the same ship. Other he served aboard throughout his career included: Llanstephan Castle, Briton, Tagus, Minnekahda, Fort St. George, Oropesa and Corbis

"Paddy" McGough died on 6 May 1940 in Essex he is buried in Chingford Mount Cemetery, Essex (now Greater London, section G13, C/R 36420).


  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).

References and Sources

1901 Census
Criminal Registers (National Archives)
Able-bodied Seaman George Francis McGough by Hugh McGough (
Craig Stringer (2003) Titanic People
National Archives (CR10/BT350) Identity Card (Courtesy of Gavin Bell)

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 (4 July 1900) Manslaughter on the High Seas - McGough Murder Charge
Cheltenham Looker-On (4 May 1912) Titanic Firemen Thomas Threlfall and George McGough


George Francis 'Paddy' McGough
George Francis McGough
Photograph of Titanic Able Seaman George Francis McGough


(1910) George McGough : Criminal Register 1910
Search archive online

Comment and discuss

  1. avatar

    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 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. avatar

    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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 said:

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

  12. 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. avatar

    Gaston Sam said:

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

  14. avatar

    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 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

  16. Ioannis Georgiou said:

    His report is full of made up stuff and partly observations he could have not made. As I said there are no reports of what he did during the evacuation (for example I help to load and lower this and that boat before I left with boat No....)

  17. avatar

    Gaston Sam said:

    I imagined so, specially when talking about Murdoch's fate. So, given that he did not testify at any of the inquiries we are to believe that probably Scarrott was wrong about the aft-lowering man and McGough did left in boat 9.

  18. Ioannis Georgiou said:

    That is what I believe. Also taking the list the ship had (a port list at No. 14, no list at No. 9) when the boats were loaded it speaks for it that Scarrott was mistaken. (Unless the ship was changing the list several times during the sinking which I can not see.)

  19. avatar

    Samuel Halpern said:

    No. 15 was lowered within a minute or two of No. 13 since it nearly came right on top of 13 forcing them to cut the falls. If they had to push the boat off as it was being lowered, as we were told happened... Read full post

  20. George Jacub said:

    Hi Ioannis, Without getting too technical, Scarrott never says he cut the falls. He says flat out, "We dropped her by the releasing gear." Which corresponds to what Lowe testified. If the lifeboat was hanging with its forward part in the water, i.e. afloat, the only part that could be "dropped" was the part that was ten feet higher, the aft part of the boat. Unless the releasing gear involves a sharp blade, there was no cutting that I can see.

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Reply Watch Thread


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

Link and cite this biography

Encyclopedia Titanica (2018) George Francis 'Paddy' McGough (ref: #1357, last updated: 17th September 2018, accessed 23rd July 2021 16:16:40 PM)

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