Mr John Pearce was born in Southampton, Hampshire, England on 20 November 1878.
He was the son of Emily Pearce, née Osman (b. 1850), a native of Southampton but the identity of his father is not clear.
He first appears on the 1881 census as a two-year-old, living at 2 Waterloo Bridge, St Mary, Southampton, the home of his maternal grandparents, William and Mary Ann Osman. His father was absent whilst his mother was described as a charwoman. By the time of the 1891 census John and his mother are still at this address.
He joined the Royal Marine Light Infantry on 25 October 1895; he was only sixteen but had made himself a year older to pass.
On 23 November 1911 he signed on to the Oratava as a fireman on a voyage bound for the West Indies. On 9 February 1912 he signed on for a voyage aboard Danube.
When Pearce signed on to the Titanic on 6 April 1912 he gave his address as 14 Drummond Road1 in Southampton and his previous ship as the Danube; as a fireman he could expect to earn monthly wages of £6.
John Pearce survived the sinking but in which lifeboat is not clear; he was not called to testify at either of the British or American Inquiries into the disaster. He returned to England and resumed his career at sea.
On 11 July 1912 Pearce signed on as a fireman aboard the Arcadian, apparently a Belfast-registered yacht that was bound for Norway. On 6 December 1913 he signed on as a greaser aboard Wellpark; after this he drops off the radar and his eventual whereabouts are unknown.