Encyclopedia Titanica

John Collins

John Collins
John Collins

Mr John (aka Samuel) Collins was born in Ramsgate, Kent on 19 January 1874, the son of John Collins and Mary Lawrence.

He enlisted in the Royal Marines on 27th December 1890.  Although he was underage he was retained and transferred from Walmer to Chatham on 1 Jan 1891 for further training but discharged as "invalided" on 8 March 1892. It is thought he later reenlisted and served during the boer war.

He was married in Ramsgate on 16 March 1902 to 17-year-old Harriett Farley (1885-1967) giving his occupation at the time as 'groom'.

When he signed-on to the Titanic, on 6 April 1912, he gave his address as the Sailors' Home, (Southampton). His last ship had been the Highland Laddie. As a fireman he received monthly wages of £6.

Collins was rescued in Emergency Lifeboat 1 and was later called to testify at the British Inquiry into the disaster.

Samuel married for a second time to Florence Milly Grant (nee Green) on 25 June 1916 in London giving his name as John Lawrence Collins (Lawrence being his mother's name).  There is no evidence that Samuel and Harriett were ever divorced, it seems that Samuel wanted to move to Canada but Harriett did not wish to leave Ramsgate.
He and his second wife moved to Canada but Samuel soon returned across the Atlantic to serve in France with the CEF. He was wounded and discharged still in 1916, whereafter he returned to Canada.
Florence Grant had two children by a previous relationship with a medical practitioner and bore Collins a further two girls. Mary Ypres Collins and Doris Mons Collins (1920-1990).
Harriett Collins, John's estranged wife, herself remarried in 1927 to George Edward Page (1885-1975) and had a daughter Laura (born 1924) and possibly other children as well, in addition to helping raise George's son George Henry Thomas Page born 1911.

On 15 April 1939 Collins, together with Elizabeth Mellinger, Madeline Mann (née Mellinger) and Emma Bliss met for a Titanic reunion dinner at the Royal York Hotel, Toronto.

Samuel Collins at the cenotaph in Toronto with other veterans, c.1946.
Courtesy of Malcolm Collins
He died on 28 September 1950 at the Sunnybrook Hospital in Toronto and he was buried in the veterans section of Pine Hills Cemetery in Toronto.
John Collins grave
Courtesy of Jason Tiller

Titanic Crew Summary

Name: Mr John Collins (Samuel)
Age: 38 years 2 months and 27 days (Male)
Nationality: English
Marital Status: Married to Harriett Farley
Occupation: Fireman
Embarked: Southampton
Rescued (boat 1)  
Disembarked Carpathia: New York City on Thursday 18th April 1912
Cause of Death:

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References and Sources

England and Wales Census

Newspaper Articles

Edmonton Journal (27 April 1939) 1939 meeting of Toronto-based Titanic survivors

Documents and Certificates

Agreement and Account of Crew, National Archives, London; BT100/259
Search archive online

Comment and discuss

  1. Arun Vajpey

    Arun Vajpey said:

    On 15th April 1939, three women and a man met for dinner at the Royal York Hotel in Toronto. All four had survived the sinking of the Titanic and met for the 27th anniversary of the tragedy. The women were Elizabeth Mellinger, her daughter Madeline Mellinger-Mann and Emma Bliss, but there appears to be some controversy of the man's identity. Based on several references that I have seen in the past including Alan Hustak's TITANIC: THE CANADIAN STORY, I have always understood that the man was scullion John Collins. But in the biography section of ET fireman/stoker Samuel John Collins is credited with going to the event. Since there was a 18-year age difference between the two men, I am sure it should be possible to find the truth. Can someone help?

  2. Jason D. Tiller

    Jason D. Tiller said:

    [indent][quote]quote: But in the biography section of ET fireman/stoker Samuel John Collins is credited with going to the event.[/quote] Yes and it also states that in Emma Bliss' biography, but unfortunately to further confuse matters, this article uploaded to John Collins' biography states that it was he who attended the reunion. In that same article, Emma Bliss swears that she remembers him "distinctly". To make it even more confusing, John Collins' biography states that he was on Collapsible B, so supposedly he was nowhere near lifeboat 15 which Bliss, Elizabeth Mellinger and her daughter were in. Also, in John Collins' bio, it says that he died in a psychiatric hospital in Belfast in 1941 of syphilis. Assuming that he had the disease for more than a year and plus syphillis can be painful, I find it far fetched that he would travel all the way here, have a

  3. Derek Jackson

    Derek Jackson said:

    Hey Jason - neat that you're from Toronto also! I was thinking of going over to the Royal York as well but I'm busy at work right now. I think it's more likely that it was Samuel John Collins as well but again, Bliss was not on lifeboat 1 (which didn't have many people esp. women on board!) It's possible that because it was nighttime she mistook someone else for him or embellished a story, which sometimes happens with Titanic.

  4. Jason D. Tiller

    Jason D. Tiller said:

    Hey Derek, Another Torontonian; sweet! [indent][quote]quote: It's possible that because it was nighttime she mistook someone else for him or embellished a story, which sometimes happens with Titanic.[/quote] Yes, those are good possibilities as well. As you said, it wouldn't be the first time.

  5. Derek Jackson

    Derek Jackson said:

    Oh, and another thing: this event at the royal york is not mentioned in the Globe and Mail at all (which I have full access to) - only in the Toronto star, the article of which is already posted to ET.

  6. Arun Vajpey

    Arun Vajpey said:

    >>>>>>> This is indeed a mystery and one that requires further investigation to settle it once and for all. Since I live in Toronto, I may be able to dig up something; perhaps through the Royal York Hotel itself, if they have an archive.

  7. Arun Vajpey

    Arun Vajpey said:

    Sorry, the year of that reunion dinner should have been 1939. Typo error in my last post.

  8. Jason D. Tiller

    Jason D. Tiller said:

    [indent][quote]quote: Oh, and another thing: this event at the royal york is not mentioned in the Globe and Mail at all[/quote] Good to know. Thanks, Derek. [indent][quote]quote: It will be great if you could clear this up![/quote] Yes, it would be, Arun. I'll do my best and hopefully will be able to solve this mystery.

  9. rio

    rio said:

    He's My Great Great Great Grandad :'( Ive Found Him x



    re: Mr Samuel Collins I think I may be able to clarify the identity of the Collins who attended the 1939 Toronto reunion since it was my grandfather, John Collins(1874-1950) None of us children ever knew him as he left home in Ramsgate, Kent, when our father (another John Collins)was a young lad, to make a new life in Canada.Fortunately,father did maintain contact with him and did indeed meet with him in London some years after that ill-fated attempt at working his passage. Why and how he registered as Samuel Collins is still a mystery as I thought members of crew had some sort of identification document that was signed off as they moved from ship to ship. He dropped the alias immediately afterwards and made Canada where he enlisted in the CEF in 1914 After the war, he returned to Canada with another young family and died in Toronto in 1950. I understand from one of the newly discovered descendants in Canada that he had what has been described as an attractive 'Titanic medal' in

  11. Jim Currie

    Jim Currie said:

    According to the Titanic Crew list - Samuel Collins, Fireman/Stoker was 35 years of age when he signed on the ship's articles at Southampton which mould mean he was born in 1877. That would make him 3 years younger than your grandfather. As you know, Gold, silver and bronze medals were struck and presented to the officers and crew of Carpathia but these were awarded some time after. The proposal to award those medals was not passed by the US government until April, 22,1912. They were awarded to the crew of Carpathia when she returned to New York on May 30th. Samuel Collins returned to the UK. On May 2nd the BoT Inquiry began. He gave evidence on day 13 . Although some of the crew left the ship when she was in the Mediterranean; it is highly unlikely he joined Carpathia at that time.



    Hi Jim, Yes and that was not the only occasion when his memory with respect to his age was somewhat doubtful. However, his DoB was 19th January 1874. I hope to find out a little more about that particular medal, as well as other matters, from a Canadian step-relative with whom I'm just establishing contact and who spent a lot of time with G/father in his younger years. With a little luck I might get a picture of it. Regards, Malcolm

  13. Jason D. Tiller

    Jason D. Tiller said:

    Hi Malcolm, Very interesting. Have you seen the photograph of all four of them at the hotel?



    Hi Jason, Yes, thankyou, I have a copy of the article including the picture. If I remember correctly, it was one of the very kind Toronto genealogists who have so greatly facilitated my research into grandfather's life who also drew my attention to the article. When I began this journey back in 2006, other than the tiny media pics relating to the Titanic disaster, I had just one good studio photograph turned into a post-card that g/father had send to my father from Toronto, sometime after 1921 when he finally got back to Canada after the war (there is no legible post-mark unfortunately), and his 1914-15 campaign medal. Of course, having his regimental number helped considerably; and a local Toronto newspaper was interested enough in his Titanic and WW1 experiences to publish a short article, including this post-card picture,with my request for any information on his life and final resting place. The response was very heartening, and as a result I am now in contact with one blood

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Gavin Bell, UK
Malcolm Collins
Peter Engberg-Klarström, Sweden
Jason D. Tiller, Canada
Bill Wormstedt, USA

Link and cite this biography

Encyclopedia Titanica (2016) John Collins (ref: #1441, last updated: 8th July 2016, accessed 28th January 2022 12:12:19 PM)
URL : https://www.encyclopedia-titanica.org/titanic-survivor/john-samuel-collins.html