John O'Connor1 was born in Southampton, Hampshire, England on 22 December 1882.2
He was the son of William O'Connor (1853-1918) and Ann Welsh (b. circa 1860). His father, a dock labourer and stevedore was Irish, hailing from Queenstown, Co Cork whilst his mother was English-born3. They were married in Southampton in 1878.
One of a reported seven children (as per the 1911 census), John’s only identifiable siblings via birth records are: Margaret Ann (b. 1880), Mary (b. 1884), James Michael (b. 1886) and Ellen Bridget (b. 1891).
In the year prior to John's birth his parents and elder sibling Margaret appeared on the 1881 census, then living at 1 Simnel Street, Southampton.
John appeared with his family on the 1891 census, then living at 4 Brewhouse Court, St Michael, Southampton and they were still present there by the time of the 1901 census, although John was absent from the family home by that time and was listed elsewhere.
Although there are no identifiable records for his enrolment, O’Connor had joined the Royal Navy and the 1901 census shows him as a crewmember aboard the St Vincent, then docked in Portsmouth. When he left the Navy and joined the merchant service is not known.
His mother had died sometime prior to 1901 and his father never remarried. John, his father and younger sister Ellen appear on the 1911 census living at 9 Tower Place, Bargate Street, Southampton and he is described as a fireman for the White Star Line.
John joined the Titanic on 10 April 1912 being taken on as a substitute for a crewman that did not sail with the ship. When he signed-on, on the same day, he gave his local address as 9 Tower Place, Southampton. His previous ship had been the Olympic and as a trimmer he received monthly wages of £5, 10s.
It is generally believed that on the night of the sinking, John became one of several men who survived by standing atop the upturned collapsible B before being rescued by other lifeboats.
John later returned to England, not being required to give evidence at either the American or British inquiries into the disaster. He received expenses of £10, 4s, 6d for his detention with regards to the latter.
John never married but continued working at sea although there are few details about his later career. He may have spent the early 1920s working for Cunard aboard the Caronia and Mauretania but this is unclear. His home remained in Southampton and he died there on 30 December 1933 aged 51. He is buried in an unmarked grave in Old Common Cemetery, Southampton (Section D179, plot 114).