Mr Leo James Hyland was born in Liverpool, Lancashire, England on 6 March 1893, later being baptised on 25 March at St Anthony's Roman Catholic Church, Scotland Road.
He was the son of an English-born father of Irish ancestry, John Charles Hyland (1864-1926) and an Irish-born mother, Catherine Bergin (1864-1923) who were married on 1 July 1889 in Our Lady of Reconciliation Church, Liverpool.
His father, a ship's baker and later a coal porters' foreman, hailed from Birkenhead, Cheshire whilst his mother was a native of Mountmellick, Queen's County (modern-day Co Laois) in the Irish midlands.
They produced a total of four children, with Leo's siblings being: John Charles (b. 8 May 1891), Thomas (b. 24 July 1895; d. 1967) and Dora Kathleen (1898-1899).
Leo and his family moved to Southampton not long after his birth and his brother Thomas was born in that city in 1895, followed by a sister Dora who died as an infant. When the family appeared on the 1911 census they were living at 34 Threefield Lane, St Mary, Southampton and Leo's father was still, at the time, described as a ship's baker and bread-maker. Leo seemingly went to sea when he came of suitable age and he would be absent from the family home when the 1911 census was conducted. His family were then listed as living at 55 Orchard Place, St Mary, Southampton. Both his brothers John and Thomas were still at home and were described as a railway clerk and telegraph messenger, respectively.
When he signed-on to the Titanic on 4 April 1912 Leo gave his address as 55 Orchard Place, St Marys, Southampton and as a third class steward he could expect monthly wages of £3, 15s. His previous ship had been the New York, the same ship that Titanic had a near-collision with in the Solent whilst departing Southampton.
Hyland was rescued in lifeboat 11 and would later make a sketch of the ship as he saw her sinking.
Hyland's sketch of the sinking
Leo later returned to England, not having been required to testify at either the American or British Inquiries into the sinking. He continued his work at sea.
In the early 1920s he was first a boots steward aboard Omy before becoming a glory-hole steward aboard the Kroonland and by January 1922 was serving in the same role aboard the Finland, a ship then operating between Antwerp and New York. He he was still serving aboard the Finaland the following year. By February 1923 he was assistant steward aboard the Minnekahda, a vessel operating between Hamburg and New York. In January on 1924 he had secured work as steward aboard Majestic; aboard the same ship on a voyage in July that year he was described as a linen keeper steward and was sailing with two Titanic stalwarts, Sarah Stap and Violet Jessop. He retired in the 1960s.
Hyland was married in Southampton on 10 August 1923 to Maria Ludovica Delen (b. 12 October 1887). The couple remained childless and by the time of the 1939 register they were residents of 11 Chaplin Street, Southampton, Hyland being described as a chief linen keeper.
During the 1950s Hyland corresponded with Walter Lord during his research for A Night to Remember and he frequently gave interviews regarding the subject of Titanic to local media. In 1962, then a resident of Burlington Road, Southampton, he was interviewed by the Belfast Telegraph when he related that:
"The first intimation I had that the situation was serious," he said, " was the sight of canvas covers fully extended below decks to balloon shape... I recall the ship's final plunge amid a crescendo of bursting boilers, and the tragic diminishing conclusion--the poignant cries of the drowning."
Widowed in 1972, Leo continued to live in Southampton until his death on 14 June 1974 aged 81. He was cremated and his ashes scattered at Southampton crematorium memorial garden (section, bed A2).