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

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


(1912) Wreck Commissioners' Court, Proceedings before the Right Hon. Lord Mersey on a Formal Investigation Ordered by the Board of Trade into the Loss of the S.S. Titanic, Titanic Inquiry Project
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Comment and discuss

  1. avatar

    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... Read full post

  2. avatar

    Jason D. Tiller said:

    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... Read full post

  3. 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. avatar

    Jason D. Tiller said:

    Hey Derek, Another Torontonian; sweet Yes, those are good possibilities as well. As you said, it wouldn't be the first time.

  5. 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. avatar

    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. avatar

    Arun Vajpey said:

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

  8. avatar

    Jason D. Tiller said:

    Yes, it would be, Arun. I'll do my best and hopefully will be able to solve this mystery.

  9. 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... Read full post

  11. avatar

    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... Read full post


    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. avatar

    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),... Read full post

  15. avatar

    Jason D. Tiller said:

    Hi Malcolm, Interesting story there.

  16. Ben M. said:

    Crosschecking with the passenger list, it appears that the folks Mr. Collins attempted to help may have been the Peacocks (mother Edith, and children Alfred and Treasteall). According to Walter Lord's "Night to Remember", Collins was holding a baby and the family was from steerage, so it may have been Alfred Edward that was washed from his arms. Horribly sad.

  17. marius mckee said:

    Just to confirm it was Samuel (John) Collins who attended the dinner in Canada. My grandfather was John (Jack) Collins, (the 17yo Titanic Scullion) and he was working on the S.S. Baron Cochrane at that time.

  18. avatar

    Jason D. Tiller said:

    Hello Marius, Welcome aboard! Thank you for the confirmation. This mystery has finally been solved, once and for all.

  19. ron nowicki said:

    Back in the latter 1940s,I lived at #9 Marigold Ave. in Toronto. Our nextdoor neighbours had the surname Collins. Mr. Collins was older than my parents and I recall, had two daughters that were probably in their 20s. Mr. Collins was very kind to me as I was just a young boy of 5 or 6. He often took me for walks to Leslie Beach and told me stories of his adventures at sea. Although he never mentioned the Titanic to me, my parents often talked of our neighbor who had survived the Titanic. I presume this is the same Collins, but, we did have another neighbor surnamed Collins that lived on the... Read full post

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

Link and cite this biography

Encyclopedia Titanica (2016) John Collins (ref: #1441, last updated: 8th July 2016, accessed 21st July 2021 23:36:04 PM)

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