Encyclopedia Titanica

John William Thompson

John William Thompson
John William Thompson

Mr John William Thompson, 42, was born in Liverpool on 6 April 1871.1

When he signed-on to the Titanic 6 April 1912, he gave his address as 26 Howe St., Liverpool. He had previously served on the Castleford. As a fireman he received monthly wages of £6.

John Thompson later recalled that, after he and some other firemen had gone on deck after the collision, Leading Fireman William Small ordered them back below, apparently to go back to the boiler rooms.

Thompson was rescued in the swamped collapsible A, he was later transferred to lifeboat 14. Somehow he broke his arm in his struggle to survive in the water, but didn't notice until he had to climb up the rope ladder into the Carpathia.

What became of him after 1912 is a mystery.


1. It is likely that his parents were Robert Thompson (dock labourer) and his wife Ann.

Research Articles

Titanica! (2018) Titanic: The Disappeared
Which Titanic survivors have never been found?

Newspaper Articles

Chicago Inter Ocean (23 April 1912) Out to Beat Record
Titanic was out “to beat all records on maiden trips.
Worcestershire Chronicle (27 April 1912) FIRE UP HARD
The orders to us were to fire up as hard as we could.
Southern Daily Echo (23 May 1912) TITANIC SURVIVOR CHARGED
Sent to Prison for Stealing a Watch


John William Thompson, Thomas Whiteley, William McIntyre, Emilio Pallas y Castillo
Asbury Park Press (1912) John Thompson
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Comment and discuss

  1. George Wagner

    George Wagner

    HI Does anyone have any information on Fireman JOHN WILLIAM THOMPSON I have a post card I believe is signed by him it has a postal stamp on it dated 1 May 1912 from New York to PA if anyone has any information on this person or knows where I can find out more info on Him Please email me at Thanks George

  2. Cal Haines

    Hi George, Here is a link to Thompson's bio and a photo, here at ET: . You might want to try contacting the authors of the piece and see if they can help you further. If you find out anything more, please share it with us. Warm Regards, Cal

  3. Helen Shurven

    Helen Shurven

    My Grandmother maintained that an uncle of hers (on her mothers side) was on the Titanic. She thought his name was Charlie Thompson. However, I could not find such a name on your lists. I did however find John William Thompson. My grannies mother was Jane Elizabeth Thompson, and my granny thought it was one of Jane's brothers that was on the Titanic. Jane was 21 in 1887 (when she was married). That would mean she was born around 1866. I note that John William Thompson was born in 1871 so they could have been siblings. In addition, Janes father was William Thompson and he was an engine fitter.... Read full post

  4. ian Hough

    Helen I am in the process of researching John William Thompson - I have a lot of information about the 'Thompsons' which live/lived in Liverpool from 1864 - unfortunately so far the only good link I have is that which is already posted on the 'Titanica website' ie. He was born in Liverpool on 6 April 1871 - he gave his address as 26 Howe Street Liverpool - His parents were probably called Robert and Ann. I will be happy to share any information about the Thompson families that I have with you. I am about to visit Liverpool agin just after Xmas for a couple of days to do some more... Read full post

  5. ian Hough

    Could anyone tell me where the following information for the John Thompson Bio came from Mr John William Thompson, 42, was born in Liverpool on 6 April 1871 (1). Also the notes 1. It is likely that his parents were Robert Thompson (dock labourer) and his wife Ann. I have been in touch with Messiuers Ticehurst, Wormstedt and Dohany (the three main contributors) who all claim it was not them. According to Chris Dohany "I do know that the full name came from Seaman Registration records held at the Public Records Office in Kew, the birthdate for that man is... Read full post

  6. Peter Engberg-Klarström

    Dear Ian, I don't know from where the information on Mr Thompson came, but I do know that, at the Public Record Office, they keep an archive of all the sailors in the Merchant fleet. I think the records start 1913, and quite a few of the surviving crewmen from the Titanic are to be found in this archive. I have seen the entries for some individual crewmen myself, so I have a feeling the information about Mr Thompson comes from this archive. Just a theory, however. Best regards, Peter

  7. Bill Wormstedt

    Maybe the info came from 'the uncredited writer' - i.e., Mr. Phil Hind. Hey Phil - you there?

  8. ian Hough

    I'm begining to think it may have been written by a ghost writer

  9. Tom Pappas

    Tom Pappas

    If the men who started fires were called "firemen", what did they call the men who extinguished fires? (Shades of Fahrenheit 451!)

  10. ian Hough

    Tom Combustion restraint, control extinguishers? Fire putter outters? Men with big hoses? Idle firemen? Hugh, pugh, barny mcgrew, cuthbert, dibble and grubb. Houghie

  11. Fiona Nitschke

    Ian, I'll second Bill W's suggestion re Phil Hind. His contributions to ET are often overlooked. Have you contacted him? ps waterboys? water(boat)men?

  12. Bill Wormstedt

    Phil IS 'the ghost writer'! As far as I know, all uncredited things are by him. And last I looked, there are still bios with no credits. Phil has always been very good on giving credit where credit is due - except to himself.

  13. David Haisman

    David Haisman

    Hi there, I had a good chuckle on your answers to Tom's question on who puts the fires out. In all seriousness,the men responsible were the Able Seamen who carried out fire drill weekly along with boat drill. Royal Mail lines were one of the best with a ''fire'' reported each week in a different part of the ship and the fire party timed on their response along with smoke helmets etc. checked on arrival. The Able seamen were changed each week to ensure everyone had a good knowledge of how to go about things. The engine room also had their own fire party's with a... Read full post

Showing 15 posts of 26 total. View all.

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Titanic Crew Summary

Name: Mr John William Thompson
Age: 41 years and 9 days  (Male)
Nationality: English
Last Residence: at 2 House, Primrose HillLiverpool, Lancashire, England
Occupation: Fireman
Last Ship: Castleford
Embarked: Southampton
Rescued (boat A)  
Disembarked Carpathia: New York City on Thursday 18th April 1912

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