Mr Henry William Sparkman

Mr Henry William Sparkman (Fireman) was born in St Mary, Southampton, Hampshire, England on 1 April 1876.

He was the son of Henry William Sparkman (1851-1923), a mariner and shipyard labourer, and Jane Emily Cozens (1855-1937), Hampshire natives who had married in 1873.

Henry was one of ten children, two of whom died in infancy. His known siblings were: Charles Henry (1873-1939), Isabella Ruth (b. 1878), Alfred William (b. 1881), Frank (b. 1884), Walter (b. 1886), Charlotte Mary (b. 1888) and William (b. 1890).

Henry first appears on the 1881 census when he and his family were living at Church Road in Hound, Hampshire and they would be listed as living at 7 Church Park in Hound by the time of the 1891 census, Henry aged 15 and having already left school and working as a telegraph messenger.

He apparently went to sea as soon as he came of age and he joined the Royal Navy on 1 March 1892, first serving aboard the St Vincent. He would go on to serve aboard Australia, Grafton and Resolution, among other vessels, before finishing his service aboard Victory I on 9 April 1897 after which he was invalided. Of differing conduct, he was shown to have spent several periods in the cells. A small man, he stood at 5' 1½" and had brown hair and eyes and a fair complexion.

Later joining the Merchant Service, by the time of the 1901 census Sparkman was listed as a ship's stoker and still living with his family, by now a Buttsash (?), Firgrove Road, Sholing, Southampton. Henry was not recorded on the 1911 census, apparently at sea, but his family were now living at Spring Road in Sholing.

Henry signed on to the Titanic in Southampton on 6 April 1912. He gave his address as Spring Road, Sholing and his previous ship as the Olympic. As a fireman he could expect to earn monthly wages of £6.

Two days later, on 8 April 1912, Henry was married in Christ Church, Norwood, Lambeth, London to Ida Lilian Chambers (b. 1884 in Lambeth, London). He set sail on Titanic another two days later.

Henry survived the sinking of the Titanic, in which lifeboat is uncertain.

Henry returned to Southampton and continued to work at sea and served for the duration of WWI.

He and his wife Ida would go on to have a son, Edwin Henry in 1913. Ida died during childbirth with their second child Lilian in 1916; she was 31. Baby Lilian died in 1918. Henry was remarried in 1927 to Olive Bessie Ward (b. 1888 in New Forest) and they had a son named William Michael the following year. Olive Bessie passed away only a few months later aged 39.  

Henry died on 15 October 1947 following a protracted illness; he was 71 and still living in Spring Road, Sholing. He was buried in Sholing Churchyard.

His son Edwin died in 1950 and his son William is believed to still be living.


Comment and discuss

  1. Bea Gardner said:

    I am the great granddaughter of William Henry Sparkman and the Grandaughter of William whom you mention towards the end of your piece.Thank you very much for writing the above- it is very accurate and informative. I can confirm that William Sparkman born 1928 died Sunday 16th August 2015, aged 87 years. He is succeeded by two daughters and three grandchildren. The youngest of whom is also a William.

  2. Sarah Young said:

    Hello Bea! I am Henry William Sparkman's Second Cousin three times removed! Thank you for adding this information for the extended family and posterity. :-)

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Gavin Bell, UK

Link and cite this biography

(2020) Henry William Sparkman Encyclopedia Titanica (ref: #1667, updated 18th February 2020 22:59:36 PM)