Mr George Pelham was born at 7 Castle Square, Bethnal Green, London 1 Bethnal Green, Middlesex, England on 28 January 1873.
He was the son of Thomas Pelham (1841-1905), a shoemaker, and Anne Povey (1839-1908), both native Londoners who had married on 1 April 1866 in St Mary's Church, Lambeth. He had five known siblings: Walter Thomas (1867-1904), Ann (b. 1869), Caroline (b. 1871), Elizabeth (b. 1875) and Emily (b. 1878).
George appears on the 1881 census living at 8 Castle Square, Bethnal Green and later at 61 Squires (?) Street by the time of the 1891 census when he was described as a general labourer.
George was married on 4 September 1893 at Holy Trinity Church, Bethnal Green to Elizabeth Mary Agass. His address at the time of marriage was 4 Ware Street, Kingsland Road, Bethnal Green and his profession was as a carman. Elizabeth was born in Bethnal Green in 1875, the daughter of a hawker and she and George had two sons: George (b. 1894) and Thomas Walter (b. 1896). At the time their children were born they were living at 19 Ware Street.
Family members believe that George went to sea to escape an unhappy marriage. He signed on as a Trimmer for the maiden voyage of the Olympic on 10 June 1911 at Southampton. He gave his age as 36 (though he was, if fact 38) and his address as 36, Dover Street, Southampton.
George was transferred to the Titanic as a Trimmer. He signed-on in Southampton on 6 April, 1912. His age was given as 37, but he was really 39. For his address he gave simply the Sailor's home, Southampton.
Pelham survived the sinking on 15 April 1912 and is believed to have escaped in Lifeboat 15. His paid service on the Titanic ceased when she sank and the balance of his wages, £3, 9s, 8d, was paid on 1 May 1912.
It is believed that George went on to serve aboard another ship during World War One and that this ship was torpedoed and sunk. Documentary evidence of his service in the First World War or details of any ships he served on after Titanic has yet to be found.
George survived this sinking, but, so the family stories go, as a result of surviving two sinkings, he suffered a breakdown. On 22 January, 1935 he was admitted to Horton Psychiatric Hospital, Epsom, Surrey. His previous occupation was given as General Labourer. On 28 August 1939 he was transferred from Horton Hospital probably because of the outbreak of World War Two, when Horton Hospital became a general hospital serving the armed forces. He was admitted on that day to Long Grove Psychiatric Hospital, Epsom, Surrey and died there 42 days later at 1 am on 9 October 1939. He was buried at the Horton Estate Cemetery, Hook Road Epsom on 14 October 1939 in plot 1576A.
Long Grove, Hospital
Long Grove Hospital (K Ward)
© Amanda and Paul Webb, UK
The cemetery had been opened in 1902 for the interment of patients from the Epsom Cluster of Mental Hospitals, administered by the London County Council. Burials were still taking place there up until the 1950s. The cemetery exists as such in name only, and is actually a large field. It was mainly used for people who were unable to afford a proper burial. The field is still there today, but there are no markers to indicate that it ever was a burial site, it just appears to be an area of waste land. The site is now owned by a potential property developer who appears to have bought himself a piece of land that no one will ever buy, due to its history. Despite extensive searches no plan of the cemetery has been found to show the location of the plots.
His burial was not the end of George Pelham's troubled saga. During the Second World War, there was an RAF base in Epsom and on one occasion a bomber was returning from a mission having failed to deploy his payload over enemy territory. The crew were instructed by their control tower to ditch their bombs on waste land before returning to the airfield as landing with a full cargo of bombs was extremely dangerous. The crew duly jettisoned the bombs over waste ground, and at least one of them detonated on Horton Estate Cemetery, supposedly blowing dismembered body parts into the surrounding trees.
What became of his widow Elizabeth is not entirely certain although it is believed that she remained living London and died in 1954 aged 78. His son George died in Cumbria in 1957 and his son Thomas in Woolwich, Kent in 1967.
My Great, Great Uncle George Pelham was part of the crew on board the ship (a Trimmer). Who managed to survive the tragedy. He was born and brought up in North East London and I am currently trying to trace this particular part of my family tree. If anyone out there has any information that may help, I will be very grateful if they could e-mail me.([email protected]). Paul & Carol WEBB East London, England
Hello out there. This is the first time I have used this method of communication. My husband and I have been researching the life of George Pelham, who was a trimmer on Titanic. I have seen recently that a deposition was sold for £4,000! We did not know that this existed, despite trying to find out about it. Does anyone know where this came from and who bought it?
Hallo Amanda, and welcome to the messageboard section of ET! I gather than you and your husband have been largely responsible for the information posted for Pelham's ET bio entry - wonderful work so far! Senan Molony mentioned the deposition going up for auction recently. After these depositions were made by the surviving crew in NY and the UK, copies were given to the crewmen (the copies retained from which witnesses for the British inquiry were selected have yet to be discovered - if they are still extant at all). Most of those copies of the depositions that survive have been in...
Hi- Lowe's deposition was taken for, rather than by, the Board of Trade and a copy was provided to him surreptitiously. To my knowledge, no copies of depositions taken by the BOT, such as Pelham's, were provided to the deponents. Regards, Craig Sopin
Hallo Craig - Many thanks for the input - I understand that you have special insight on this matter. Lowe's deposition signed and sworn to at the British Consulate General in NY - he was among those crew whose depositions were taken before their return to the UK. What makes you say it was given to him 'surreptitiously', and do you know by who? Pitman also had a copy of his deposition, I understand. Do you suspect that the British Consulate slipped them copies? And to what end? I gather that you have a copy (or the original) of Eustace Snow's deposition? Do you how it came to...
Hello everyone, this is the first time that i have ever used this method of communication as i am a very recent convert to the wonders of the internet. To introduce myself George Pelham was my Great Uncle, and Amanda Webb is my Nephews wife.I have some information on George's early life that i thought you would like to know. He was one of six children having four sisters and a brother. Thomas Walter Pelham, born 9th Jan 186(7) ???. Ann Pelham, born 1st April 1869. Caroline Pelham, born 26th July 1871. George was next, born 28th Jan 1873 Elizabeth Pelham, ...
Hi Inger- Both Pitman and Lowe received copies of their respective depositions on the condition of "strict confidentiality" as confirmed in a May 7, 1912 letter from WSL's legal representative. I believe the copies came from someone at the consulate. The condition upon which they received them suggests that copies were not routinely provided to the crew. The auctioned depositions of Snow and Pelham (both originals) were recorded by hand by the same BOT examiner in Southampton. They were apparently discovered by a descendant of the examiner's housekeeper, who consigned them to sale. ...
G'day Craig - many thanks for that additional information. I'd very much like to trace who was responsible for providing the copies to the officers. Formatting is interesting - Lowe's copy of his own statement is unsigned, although a space is left for signature and a blank space for day next to month/year. That suggests to me that the deposition was either a verbal or handwritten statement that was transcribed in the accepted format and presented to him for signature and dating. There are a few errors that one would not expect Lowe to make. For example, it commences 'My name is Harold...
Hallo Sylvia - welcome to ET and to the internet! Thank you for that additional information on Pelham's family tree - it will be of great interest to crew survivors. Perhaps you could send it along to Phil Hind, the owner of the website, for inclusion in Pelham's biography on this site? Cheers - Inger
Hi Aunt Sylvia, Nice to see that you are taking the electric interweb in your stride. Inger, I have written to Senan but have received no reply so far. This deposition was like a bolt out of the blue! We have been asking if such a document existed and was told that any depositions that were taken, were probably thrown away. I would love to see a copy of it, it is genuine as his signature is on it and this matches other documentation that we have. Thanks Amanda.
Hello Craig, Sorry to but in as I know this conversation is turning out to be rather interesting, especially for my cause. If you don't mind I need to ask you a two questions Craig. Briefly, part of my project is compiling all the entries pages dealing with the Titanic Relief Fund - Southampton Committee. I don't have my file or notes handy at the moment but roughly at the introductory pages of Book 2, there's something which has caught my attention and obviously focuses upon other major incidence's noted down with Book 1. For the record, Book 1 in the collection doesn't survive....
C.R. Clee, BOT Examiner.
Hello Craig, Thank you for providing the name, much appreciated. A.W.
Hi Inger,Re my information on George Pelham.I have tried to send it to Phil Hind a couple of times but no success. regards Sylvia.
Hallo Sylvia - Have you tried the direct upload facility that Phil has installed? I'd be happy to do it for you if you haven't had success with it. Cheers - Inger