Encyclopedia Titanica

Spencer Victor Silverthorne

First Class Passenger

Spencer Victor Silverthorne
Spencer Victor Silverthorne


Mr Spencer Victor Silverthorne was born in Lobo, Middlesex, Ontario, Canada1 on 17 October 1876.

He was the youngest son of Daniel Silverthorne (1839-1928)2 and Elizabeth Johnson (1837-1881)3, both English-born migrants hailing from Dorset and London respectively and who had married in London on 22 October 1864 where their first two children were born; they appeared on the 1871 census as residents of 26 Upton Mews, Upton, Essex when his father was described as an outdoor officer for HM customs.

He had four brothers and one sister: Arthur Herbert S. (b. 1868), Bertie Augustus (1870-1933), Isabel L. A. (b. 1873)4, Ernest Lionel Vincent (1874-1966) and George Wesley (1879-1940).

Around the turn of the 1880s the family relocated from Canada to Greenville, Michigan. His mother died there on 25 October 1881 and his father was remarried on 10 November 1888 to Hannah Elizabeth Angevine (1859-1944)5 of Oakland, Michigan.

Through his father's second marriage Spencer had five half-siblings: Hugh D. (1891-1994), Katie L. (1893-1973, later Clark), Guy Alfred (1895-1961), Roy Fairchild (1898-1963) and Lucile Victoria (1901-1988, later Mrs Charles W. Merritt and Mrs Clifford VanOcker). 

Spencer appears on the 1880, 1894 and 1900 censuses with his family at an unspecified address in Greenville; on the latter record, he was described as a dry goods clerk. He later moved to Rochester, New York but returned to Montcalm, Michigan where on 28 April 1903 and described as a salesman he was married to Beulah Fowler (b. June 1877) of Greenville, daughter of W. J. Fowler and Harriet New.

The marriage between Spencer and Beulah remained childless; they settled in St Louis, Missouri where they appeared on the 1910 census as residents of Uon Versen Avenue in that city, with Silverthorne described as a department store merchant. 

He was a buyer for Nugent's department store of St Louis and was a frequent traveller across the Atlantic whilst on business; in March 1907 he was a passenger aboard the Kaiser Wilhelm der Grosse whilst a year later in March 1908 he was a passenger aboard the Mauretania. In April 1909 he and his wife Beulah were passengers aboard the Celtic.

Silverthorne had been on a buying trip to Europe when he boarded the Titanic at  Southampton as a first class passenger (ticket number 17475 which cost £26, 5s, 9d and which he shared with Erik Lind) and he shared cabin E24 with Edward Calderhead.

When the collision occurred on 14 April 1912 Silverthorne was sitting in the first class smoking room reading Owen Wister's The Virginian. He immediately realised that the ship had struck something but his first idea was that it might be a whale or another ship, so he went outside to see what had happened. He claimed to have seen a giant iceberg passing astern and with chunks of ice falling from it. After seeing this he went inside and told the others in the saloon that the ship had hit an iceberg. No one thought much of the incident and everyone just went back to doing what they had been doing before the collision.

Shortly afterwards an officer came and told the men to go up on deck and get into the lifeboats. When Silverthorne arrived on the boat deck lifeboat 7 had already left and lifeboat 5 was about to lower away. When no more women could be found he was told to get into that boat, which he said he did reluctantly as he didn't want to go while women were still aboard. He later said: "Had we been in our rooms we would have had to stand aside, as the other men did then."

An obituary claimed that Silverthorne had actually gone to bed after the collision, only to be awakened by another buyer who told him the ship was sinking. The same obituary also claimed that Silverthorne "made his way to the bow and jumped into the dark, icy water. He swam vigorously away to avoid the suction at the ship went down. Then he reached a half-empty lifeboat and was taken aboard." In fact, Silverthorne was rescued with other first-class passengers in boat 5.

Silverthorne returned to his wife in America and continued to work for Nugent's. He became a widower when his wife Beulah died on 19 November 1913 and she was buried in Forest Home Cemetery in her native Montcalm, Michigan.

He continued to travel across the Atlantic frequently; once voyage was board Lusitania in April 1914 and on other voyages well into his advanced years. 

His 1920 passport states that he was travelling on business to Britain, France and Italy and would travel aboard the Lapland; he was described as standing at 6' and with a grey-balding high forehead, grey eyes, a long nose, a small moustache and of medium-fair complexion.

In 1924 he applied for another passport with the intent of travelling for business to Britain, France, Germany, Austria, Italy, Czechoslovakia, Turkey, Greece, Spain and Egypt. At that time he travelled aboard the Laconia. Another passport was obtained the following year for business trips to Britain, Germany, France and the Netherlands. 

Silverthorne remarried around 1916 to Gertrude Odom (b. 12 May 1895), a Kentucky native; they moved to New York and had two children: Spencer Victor Jr (1917-1962) and Mary Elizabeth (b. 1920)6.

Gertrude Silverthorne

Gertrude Silverthorne in 1922

At the time of Silverthorne's 1918 WWI draft, he was described as a merchandiser for James H. McCreery & Co department store of New York and his address was given as 454 Riverside Drive, New York. The family moved to the affluent Scarsdale, Westchester, New York sometime prior to 1920 and appear on the 1930 and 1940s censuses as residents of 7 Colvin Road in Scarsdale where Spencer would live for the rest of his life.

After years of service, Silverthorne went on to become vice president of James H. McCreery & Co department store and president of the Donaldson department store in Minneapolis. He retired in 1935 and was also an employee of the Associated Dry Goods Corporation and of Allied Stores Inc. He lost his wife Gertrude when she died on 13 October 1954.

Spencer Silverthorne died on 17 May 1964 at his home at 7 Colvin Road, Scarsdale, New York. He was survived by a daughter, Mrs Elizabeth De Montanya, five grandchildren, and a brother. He was buried in Ferncliff Cemetery in Hartsdale, Westchester, New York. 


  1. He was shown on various censuses and at the time of his marriage in 1903 to give his birthplace as Canada. Various census records (and his passports) defied this and stated he was from Greenville, Michigan. His birth was recorded in Lobo, son of Daniel Silverthorn(e) and Elizabeth Johnson.
  2. Daniel Silverthorne; born in Dorset on 6 June 1839, son of Elijah Silverthorn(e) and Hannah (Anna) Stafford; died in Michigan on 12 April 1928.
  3. Elizabeth Johnson; born in Brixton, Surrey on 15 May 1837, daughter of Benjamin and Eliza Johnson; died in Michigan on 25 October 1881.
  4. Details about Isabel are ambiguous; reportedly born in Canada, she appears with her parents and siblings on the 1880 census in Michigan. It appears though that following her mother's death in 1881 she was adopted by family friends Fairchild and Martha Wright, the latter née Crooks, with whom she appears on the 1894 census, being described as their adopted daughter. She was married in 1897 to Hugh H. Harris and spent time in Chippewa, Michigan and Evanston, Illinois but had no known children. What became of her after 1910 is not clear.
  5. Hannah Elizabeth Angevine; born 1859 in Pontiac, Michigan; died 29 April 1944 in Greenville. She was the daughter of Ethan Angevine and Mariah Fowler.
  6. The 1930 and 1940 censuses show that Spencer had adopted a nephew, Mervin Clark Silverthorne (1921-1977, born in Kansas), possibly the son of his half-brother Guy.

Newspaper Articles

E.R.Barclay, Registrar Ontario Vital Records (17 October 1876) Spencer Victor Silverthorne Birth Record
Ontario birth record for Spencer Victor Silverthorne
Daily Northwestern (17 April 1912) Saw The Iceberg
Silverthorne account
Chicago Record-Herald (18 April 1912) Buyer For Nugent Brothers On Titanic
Evanston Daily News (18 April 1912) Local Woman's Kin Saved From Titanic
New York Times (18 May 1964) Silverthorne

Documents and Certificates


Walter Lord (1955) A Night to Remember
Walter Lord (1986) The Night Lives On: Thoughts, Theories and Revelations about the Titanic, London, Penguin. ISBN 0 140 27900 8
Search archive online

Spencer Victor Silverthorne

Comment and discuss

  1. Tieler Niedzwiecki

    I'm new to this so please bear with me. Does anyone out there know anything more about Spencer's family in Greenville, Michigan. I don't live more than a half hours drive from there and would find it interesting to see where he was born and lived etc. I had an uncle that was born near Greenville who was named Spencer who was killed in a car crash and I find it to be a bit erie. Any info on his family would be appreciated. Tieler.
  2. Phillip Gowan

    Hi Tieler, I don't know about relatives in Greenville-as that was his birthplace and he seems to have lived most of his life elsewhere. He married a younger woman and had two children, a daughter Elizabeth and a son Spencer Victor. Although the elder Mr. Silverthorne outlived his son, there are three grandsons living--one in suburban Dallas, Texas and two in the Philadelphia area. Regards, Phillip
  3. Tieler Niedzwiecki

    Thank you very much for the information. I looked up Silverthorne on Yahoo's people finder and 6 different names came up as living in Greenville. That's why I was wondering if you knew if they had any relation because Greenville is not the largest of towns. Thank you very much once again. Tieler.
  4. Chris Dohany

    Regarding the Silverthornes in Greenville, I'd like to add that Spencer was the fifth of six children born to his father, Daniel, and his first wife, Elizabeth. His mother died when Spencer was four, his father remarried and they had six more children - Twelve Silverthorne offspring total (albeit one of whom died in infancy). His birth siblings seem to have scattered about the country as Spencer did, but his father, stepmother, and most of his half-siblings remained in Michigan. I would imagine the current Silverthorne residents are of some relation to Spencer. Spencer's first wife, Beulah Fowler was also from Greenville (she died a year or two after the Titanic sinking, their marriage produced no children). I haven't checked but you may find some of her relatives there as well.
  5. Tieler Niedzwiecki

    Are there any known pictures of Spencer or his family? Thank you very much once again. Tieler.
  6. Chris Dohany

    There's a newspaper photo of Spencer in the book "" by John and Vera Gillespie.
  7. Geoff Whitfield

    As an aside, the British branch of the Silverthorne clan told me, in no uncertain terms, that the name is spelled without a final "e" and that some "damned fool" had added one when that branch of the family went to America! Geoff
  8. Tieler Niedzwiecki

    Thank you very much all of you who contributed to this chat. I will try and locate a copy of that book. From now on I will post my questions here because from the looks of it there are some very knowledgeable people here. Thank you all very much. Tieler.
  9. Deborah Merritt

    HI Chris, I just happened to be reading about my uncle Spencer and I am the grand daughter of his half sister Lucile Victoria . I actually... Read full post
  10. PrinceZuzu09

    Hi, I'm his Great-Great Grandson and could possibly find his grandson or great granddaughter.
Open Thread Leave a Reply Watch Thread

Titanic Passenger Summary

Name: Mr Spencer Victor Silverthorne
Age: 35 years 5 months and 29 days (Male)
Nationality: Canadian
Marital Status: Married to Beulah Fowler
Embarked: Southampton on Wednesday 10th April 1912
Ticket No. 17475, £26 5s 9d
Cabin No. E24
Rescued (boat 5)  
Disembarked Carpathia: New York City on Thursday 18th April 1912
Died: Sunday 17th May 1964 aged 87 years
Cause of Death:
Buried: Ferncliff Cemetery, Hartsdale, New York, United States

Linked Biographies

Page Options

Watch this page

Improve this Biography

If you have any corrections or something to add please  get in touch