Mr John O'Connor

John O'Connor

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.

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).

Notes

  1. Birth registered as Connor and appears under that name on census records.
  2. He would give misleading ages during the course of his life; when he signed on to Titanic he gave his age as 25 and his circa 1919 crewman's card gives his birthdate as 22 December 1884. His birth was registered in the first quarter of 1883. Census records also give misleading information about his age, however, but the 1891 census confirms that he was born in 1882. Several outlets also attempt to place his birth in Ireland.
  3. Birthplace unclear; early census records give her birthplace as London whilst the 1881 and 1891 census records give her birthplace as Hull, Yorkshire.
 

Comment and discuss

  1. UKNYC67 said:

    i think this might be a relative of ours. My grandfather was born in 1911 in London to an Ellen O'connor. Before he died in 1997 my grandfather said that one of his relatives was a stoker on the titanic. We have just discovered that Ellen (my g/fathers mother) was born in Dunedin, NZ in 1883 and came to London at the turn of the century. I know my grandfather had cousins in Canning Town area. Would like to confirm that this John O'Connor was born in Southampton - can anyone help with more information? Thank you

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Credits

Trevor Baxter, UK
Gavin Bell, UK
Chris Dohany, USA
Peter Engberg, Sweden

References and Sources

Daily Mirror, 19 April 1912 [Photo]
Search archive British newspapers online

Link and cite this biography

Encyclopedia Titanica (2020) John O'Connor (ref: #1609, last updated: 2nd May 2020, accessed 28th May 2020 05:35:21 AM)
URL : https://www.encyclopedia-titanica.org/titanic-survivor/john-oconnor.html