Mr Sidney Clarence Stuart Collett

Sidney Clarence Stuart Collett

Mr Sidney Clarence Stuart Collett was born in Hampstead, London, England on 8 June 1887. 

He was the son of Mawbey Ernest Collett (1851-1922), a coach ironmonger, and Ann Pinfold, née Casely (1849-1939), natives of Clerkenwell and Essex, respectively. 

His father had first been married in 1876 to Elizabeth Alice Stare (b. May 1854) from Southampton and through this marriage Sidney had six half-siblings: Alice Mawbey (1876-1878), Ernest Henry (1878-1945), Herbert Victor (1879-1896), William Melville (1881-1908), Harold John (b. 1883) and Percy Alexander (1884-1950).

Following his first wife's death in December 1884, not long after the birth of their son Percy, Mawbey remarried in 1885 to Ann Pinfold, the young widow of Frederick Pinfold (1852-1879). Sidney was the second of their five children and his siblings were: Thomas Alfred Fletcher (1886-1964), Violet Amelia (1888-1959)1, Daisy Ann (1891-1952) and Lily Elizabeth (1892-1974)(2).

Sidney first appears on the 1891 census living with his family at 5 Estelle Road, Kentish Town, London. He first attended Fleet Road School and on 5 October 1896 he became a pupil at Yerbery Road School in Upper Holloway. By the time of the 1901 census the family home was 68 St John's Road, Upper Holloway. A pious young man, the 1911 census describes Sidney as an un-denominational Evangelist and as a visitor to an address in East Hall, Rainham, Essex, the home of farmer James Vellacott and his family.

Sidney's parents had migrated and settled in Port Byron, New York around 1910 where his father became a pastor for the First Baptist Church; other siblings had made the move ahead of him and his brother Thomas was a student at Syracuse University; it became Sidney's intention of joining them there. 

Collett had originally intended to book passage on the St. Louis but was too late in booking to secure a berth. He then attempted to sail on the Philadelphia but that voyage was cancelled due to the coal strike and his passage was then moved to the Titanic. He travelled by train from Waterloo with his uncle Sidney Collett and boarded in Southampton on the morning of 10 April as a second-class passenger (ticket number 28034 which cost £10, 10s). He brought with him the family possessions that had not previously been brought to America by other members of the family, including a valuable library, family documents and a considerable amount of money.

The day before sailing Collett had mailed a letter to his mother from London containing a second sealed envelope that was self-addressed. The first letter instructed his father and mother that should anything unforeseen happen to him during his journey to them they should open the second envelope.
Sidney was seen off at Southampton by his uncle Sidney Collett and an aunt. Just before departure, Stuart would later explain, his aunt instructed him to look after Marion Wright, a young lady who was travelling alone to join her fiancé.  According to him, “…since I became her protector, she playfully suggested that in order that I might not make love to her she get another friend as our companion.”  This companion was Kate Buss and he took both ladies into his charge.

Just as we were aboard and after it was impossible for me to go ashore again I saw my aunt beckoning rigorously to me and turned in the direction she indicated. I saw a young lady looking at me and I looked at her. It was Miss Wright and she was coming to New York to meet her lover and in this manner she was as it were, put into my charge. Then we sped on our way and there was more trouble. The suction of our boat drew the stern of the New York toward us and her stern and our stern were rushing together when a tug caught the New York and towed her to her moorings. We passed Cherbourg and Queenstown and on Thursday afternoon I took my last look and bade farewell to the old country. Everything was going finely. On Sunday morning we had our first service, an Episcopalian service and the chaplain read from the 13th Corinthians, I believe. - The Auburn Citizen, 23 April 1912

He recalled the hymn services aboard the ship:

Miss Wright ... sang There Are Green Hills Far Away, and For Those in Peril At Sea. At the request of Mr. Carter we also sang Now the Day Is Over and in closing sang: Stand Up For Jesus. I remember that because we had no music so I led the singing. ‘Now give us five minutes of the Gospel,’ I said to Rev. Carter and so the meeting closed, and I am sure that everybody enjoyed it.” - The Auburn Citizen, 23 April 1912

Before going to bed on Sunday 14 April Collett had enjoyed supper with an unidentified young man from Guernsey. He had been in bed only ten minutes when the collision occurred, describing the impact as "two heavy throbs":

I jumped up, put on light clothing and went up on deck.  The steam was blowing with a deafening noise.  I did not see the iceberg myself.  I talked to the officers and the Captain ordered us to get the ladies.  I ran down, got more clothing and went to Miss Wright.  She had got up and was out on the deck.

Up on deck, possibly A-deck, Collett again encountered his friend from Guernsey but the man crossed to the other side of the ship and he never saw him again. He later entered lifeboat 9:

There were no more women to go and I asked the officer if there was any objection to my going in that boat. He said ‘No, get in’ and I was the last one in. I think it was the third from the last to go on that side.  It was No. 9 and we had to get away fast. Besides other boats going down there was danger from the sinking boat. I cannot describe the sinking in any other way than to say that it was like the noise from a football field, not loud like a shout of victory, but hushed as though there was canvas over it... There were two loud noises as she went down. It was like as if all the cargo went from one side of the ship to the other all at once. It may have been bursting of the boilers or the vessel breaking itself in two. I don’t know.  It seemed to me that we all should go down. As she sank I saw her looming up more clearly just as on a lantern slide when they are bringing a picture into focus. - The Auburn Citizen, 23 April 1912

Collett later attended Denison University in Granville, Ohio with intentions of entering the Rochester Theological Seminary upon completion of his course. Being a lone Briton and slightly older than his peers he kept very much to himself; in June 1913 his timid demeanour led to him being hazed by six fellow students, all masked, who branded his forehead with silver nitrate in a cross shape, disfiguring him for life. The ringleader, Kent Pfeiffer of St Paul, Minnesota was later expelled from the university. 

At the time of his 1917 US draft Sidney was living at 364 West 57th Street, New York, described as a student and of medium height, slender in frame and with blue eyes and brown hair. Still at home with his parents by the time of the 1920 census, their address then being 358 Gareon Avenue, Rochester, Collett was described as a film examiner in the Kodak factory. 

Further details about Collett's later life are not entirely certain. Whilst some sources have said he was married and had a family there appears to have been a confusion between he and another man named Sidney Collett (see note 3). When the correct Sidney Collett appeared on the 1939 UK register he was described as an unmarried salesman, lodging at an address in Southend-on-Sea, Essex.

Sidney Collett died in Islington, London in the first quarter of 1941.3 

He is buried in Hendon Cemetery and Crematorium, London Borough of Barnet (section D7, plot 51681) in an unmarked grave . There was a headstone but it was removed in 1975 why the headstone was removed is unknown.

His last surviving sibling was his youngest sister Lily who died in Rochester on 23 October 1974.

Notes

  1. Later Mrs John Cristian Vanderkolk
  2. Later Mrs Burrell Clinton Williams
  3. His date of death is often stated as 8 May 1941; this was the date of death for a 83-year-old man named Sidney Collett (b. 23 July 1857) who spent his final days living at Brent Cottage in Wickliffe Avenue, Finchley, London; he left an estate valued at £12817, 6s, 6d. 
 

Pictures

News photo of Sidney Stuart Collett taken aboard Carpathia
(1912) 
NEWS PHOTO OF SIDNEY STUART COLLETT TAKEN ABOARD CARPATHIA
News photo of Sidney Stuart Collett taken aboard Carpathia (1)
NEWS PHOTO OF SIDNEY STUART COLLETT TAKEN ABOARD CARPATHIA (1)
 

Articles and Stories

East Kent Gazette (1965) 
Post-Standard (Syracuse, New York) (1913) 
Post-Standard (Syracuse, New York) (1913) 
Unidentified Newspaper (Granville, Ohio) (1913) 
Syracuse Herald (1912) 
The Auburn Citizen (1912) 
Post-Standard (Syracuse, New York) (1912) 
Reading Observer (1912) 
(1912) 
Guernsey Evening Press 
 

Comment and discuss

  1. Anne Collett Cornell said:

    I was told by my grandfather that his uncle was Stuart Collett, a 2nd class passenger. My grandfather related that Stuart was not heard from after the Titanic but survivor accounts at this site state that he was picked up by his parents. Does anyone have any information on Stuart Collett or his survivors?

  2. avatar

    Phillip Gowan said:

    Hi Anne, Sidney Clarence Stuart Collett was born in London on January 8, 1887 and died May 8, 1941 in Finchley, Middlesex, England. I have his death certificate which gives a little more information but am at my office right now. Will post some extra info. from the death certificate later. Phil Gowan

  3. Brian Meister said:

    Dear Mrs Cornell, There is a well seen photo of your uncle Stuart with his mother at the White Star offices (I believe)in New York after his rescue. In 1995, I visited his unmarked grave in Hendon Cemetery, London, and received the following information from the office. Sidney Clarence Stuart Collett was buried 13 May 1941 after passing away on 8 May st 31 Woodhouse Rd, Finchley, London N 12. His wife Annie Lizzie Collett passed away 18 July 1941. The deed was tranferred to their daughter, Muriel Ramsey, and then, curiously... Read full post

  4. Anne Collett Cornell said:

    In response to Brian Meister. Where do I find this photo? This is very interesting. We did not know that Stuart went back to England so this explains why there was a break in communication with the family here. I am curious as to who the woman was that posted from New York as my family is from New York. My grandfather, Cecil Collett was raised in Deposit New York and his sisters and their families were all brought up in upstate New York. It is quite likely this was a relative. Thanks for the response.

  5. Randy Bryan Bigham said:

    Here are some old news photos of 2nd class Titanic passenger-survivor Stuart Collett. According to the Library of Congress, these are now in the public domain and have no known copyright or other reproduction restrictions. I'm supposing these were taken aboard Carpathia? photo #1:

    attachment
  6. Randy Bryan Bigham said:

    Stuart Collett photo #2:

    attachment
  7. Brandon Whited said:

    Hello Randy, Thanks for posting those wonderful photographs -B.W.

    attachment
  8. avatar

    Tracy Smith said:

    Heck, he looks as if he's at least 40 in these photos.

  9. Randy Bryan Bigham said:

    Brandon and Tracy, Yes, he does look older than 24. I do not know if the others in that picture are survivors or not. It would seem so. But they might be Carpathia people. Phil may want to use them. They are free of copyright. LOC only asks that a credit is given to them whenever their images are used. Randy

  10. avatar

    Michael H. Standart said:

    Hmmmmmmmm....I'm only 42, but if I spent the night on Titanic, I might just look 84 myself. Not surprising that the man looks dour. He didn't have a lot to smile about. Cordially, Michael H. Standart

  11. Eric Sauder said:

    Super photos, Randy. Thanks for posting them. Eric

  12. Geoff Whitfield said:

    Hello Randy - at last, a face to match Edy's!! Don't know just what he did in later life but Collett died a fairly wealthy man.

  13. Richard Paola said:

    great photo Randy...it may be the lighting, but his left hand appears to be black ! ... it doesn't look like a glove either...do you know what may be the cause of this ?? thanks

  14. Brandon Whited said:

    Hello Richard, Are you sure that isn't a glove? He's got a glove on his left hand in the first picture, and both appear to have been taken on the same day. I'm pretty sure it is a glove; it appears that he might actually be pointing at the camera in the second picture. He has that same bundle of papers under his left arm in both images, as well. Cheers, -B.W.

    attachment
  15. avatar

    Tracy Smith said:

    Yes, it's a glove because in the first picture, I can see where the glove ends and his wrist begins.

  16. Richard Paola said:

    Randy probably knows better...but it may be related to a hand injury.

  17. Randy Bryan Bigham said:

    RE: his hand I assume it is a glove. That he would bother wearing just the one (as its mate is no where to be seen)may show his mental strain - or an early attempt at setting a fad a la Michael Jackson. Unless of course it is a hand injury he's concealing, as has been suggested. I wouldn't know. Geoff or Phil being the experts will know better. Personally I never heard of Stuart Colett before but was so struck by his rather sad, yet elegant, looks that I thought I'd share the images. I'm guessing Collett's clothes are the ones he wore off Titanic. To... Read full post

    attachment
  18. avatar

    Tracy Smith said:

    Perhaps he lost the other glove during the sinking. He probably continued to wear the remaining glove because he was cold, as is witnessed in the first picture by him sticking his ungloved hand into his jacket.

  19. Chris Dohany said:

    It appears to me as if the other glove is in his left hand, you can see it hanging down beside the paper he's holding (more clearly in the first picture).

  20. Andrew Maheux said:

    Mabee He is wearing one glove because he is useing his other hand for something, like mabee writing. I know I cant write with gloves on. Or mabee he doesnt want to get his left hand full of ink from the newspaper? Just some suggestions. There is moving footage of him in the video Titanic Survivors at the very end and he is also holding newspapers. Andrew Maheux

Showing 20 posts of 38 total. View all.

Leave a comment

Credits

Trevor Baxter, UK
Gavin Bell, UK
Brandon Whited, USA

References and Sources

The Post-Standard, Syracuse, New York, 22 April 1912
The Syracuse Herald, Syracuse, New York, 23 April 1912
The Daily Advertiser, Port Byron, New York, 23 April 1912
Indiana Evening Gazette, Indiana, Pennsylvania, 25 April 1912
The Auburn Democrat-Argus, Auburn, New York, 25 April 1912
The Loogootee Sentinel, Loogootee, Indiana, 14 June 1912
Search archive British newspapers online

Link and cite this biography

Encyclopedia Titanica (2019) Sidney Clarence Stuart Collett (ref: #382, last updated: 20th April 2019, accessed 8th August 2020 03:50:16 AM)
URL : https://www.encyclopedia-titanica.org/titanic-survivor/sidney-clarence-stuart-collett.html