Mr Sidney Humphreys

Sidney Humphreys

Mr Sidney Humphreys  (able seaman) 1 was born in Wimborne, Dorset 2, England on 15 August 1859, later being baptised on 13 November that same year.

He was the son of William Humphreys (b. 1834), a publican, and Elizabeth Jane Masson (b. 1837), both natives of Wimborne who had married in Southampton on 8 February 1857. He had one known sibling, Rosa Alice (b. 1858).

At the time of Sidney's birth his father was a licensed victualler but by the time of the 1861 census the family had relocated to Southampton where his father now worked as a ship's steward, the family living at 54 French Street. The family's whereabouts over the next few decades are unclear but it is clear that they remained in Southampton.

Humphreys, like his father, went to sea, he at a young age. He then joined the Royal Navy on 10 September 1874, first serving aboard the St Vincent and soon becoming a seaman. He would also go on to serve aboard Excellent, Rover, Euphrates before being invalided from service on 4 November 1882, his last ship being the Duke of Wellington. Of varying conduct, he was shown to have spent a 14-day stretch in the cells at one point. Physically he stood at 5' 3" and had light brown hair, grey eyes and fair hair.

Following his discharge it is possible Humphreys worked in the merchant service but he was to rejoin the Navy on 11 September 1892, serving as able seaman on several voyages aboard Trincomalee. By now he sported a tattoo, a coat of arms, on his left arm. He went ashore on 12 August 1895.

Sidney was married in Southampton in 1895 to Annie Rosetta Snoad (b. 1874), a native of Sittingbourne, Kent, and the couple had eight children: Catherine Elizabeth (1892-1971, later Mrs William Alfred Smart), William F. (1894-1945)4, Sidney Herbert (b. 1897), Horace John (1899-1959), Leslie Graham (1900-1928), Hetty Grace (1902-1971, later Mrs Richard Sheils), Arthur (b. 1904) and Joan Eleanor (1912-2002, later Mrs Edward R. Bailey).

The family are shown on the 1901 census living at 7 Pound Street and the 1911 census living at 40 Redcar Street, both in Shirley, and on both occasions Sidney being described as a seaman. By 1912 the family were listed on the Southampton Street directory living at 113 Duke's Road.

When Humphreys signed on to the Titanic, on 10 April 1912, he gave his address as 113 Duke's Road, Southampton and his previous ship as the Olympic. Serving as quartermaster he could expect monthly wages of £5.

On the night of the sinking Humphreys recalled the youngest members of the crew, the bellboys, being corralled to their regular posts so as not to get in the way and observed them smoking and joking with passengers. He apparently assisted in loading boat 11 from A-deck before stepping in and assuming command of the heavily laden boat which encountered difficulties during launch as she was unable to release herself from the falls. Those at the oars also found it near impossible to row as the craft was so tightly packed.

Humphreys was not called to give evidence to either of the British or American Inquiries into the sinking.

Sidney returned to England and continued working at sea, serving throughout the duration of WWI. He remained living in Southampton and passed away in 1919 aged 60. His widow Annie died in 1936.

Credits
Gavin Bell, UK
Chris Dohany, USA
Pamela Flaws

Notes
  1. Name disputed. No registration for his birth can be located. His baptismal record gives his name as Sidney Charles Humphries but, alternate spellings of surname aside, he is often named as Sidney James Humphries. The "James" likely comes from a contemporary newspaper report (Chicago Inter Ocean, 21 April 1912) which interviewed a seaman named "James Humphries". Upon his marriage in 1895 no middle name was listed in the registration of that event. His death in 1919 has him as Sidney W. Humphreys.
  2. Birthplace given as Hampshire in the crew agreements. When he joined the Royal Navy he stated that his birthplace was Southampton. His birthplace is listed as Wimborne in WWI Merchant Seaman records and early census records confirm his Wimborne origins.
  3. William settled in New York with his wife, the former Dorothy Baker (b. 1900), and had two children: Ronald (b. 1919) and Joyce (b. 1920). He worked as a labourer in Queens but was widowed in 1930. William died in Manhattan on 22 November 1945 aged 51 and was buried in Flushing Cemetery, New York.

Articles and Stories

50 TITANIC BELLBOYS DIED SMOKING AS WOMEN FILLED BOATS

Chicago Inter Ocean  (1912) 

50 TITANIC BELLBOYS DIED SMOKING AS WOMEN FILLED BOATS

 
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