Encyclopedia Titanica

Thomas Gibson Graham

Thomas Gibson Graham

Mr Thomas Gibson Graham was born in Belfast, Ireland on 26 December 1883.

He was the son of Robert Gibson Graham (b. circa 1845), a pattern maker, and Elizabeth McNeece (b. circa 1845), a native of Co Tyrone and who had married in Carnteel, Co Tyrone on 5 January 1865. 

He had three known siblings, Alexander (b. 13 October 1870), Elizabeth (b. 1873) and brother Robert (b. 1877) and the family were from a Church of Ireland religious background.

Thomas first appears on the 1901 census, described as a labourer in a rope-works and living at 34 Keatley Street in the Pottinger district of east Belfast, still with his mother. His mother died on 8 April 1903 and his father on 14 August 1909. 

With both his parents dead Thomas appears on the 1911 census living at 14 Downpatrick Street in Victoria, east Belfast, the home of his married sister Mrs William James Rainey (Elizabeth) and her family; he was then described as a steamship stoker and his brother Robert as a damask finisher.

He had worked as a stoker in the Royal Navy since 1903, serving on an assortment of ships, including Indus, Vivid and Emerald and was described as standing at 5' 3", with brown hair and grey eyes and of generally "good character". Exactly when he joined the merchant service is not known.

Graham was on the Titanic's delivery voyage from Belfast to Southampton. When he signed on again of the maiden voyage on 6 April 1912 he gave his home address as 28 Downpatrick Street, Belfast and his previous ship as the Howth Head. As a fireman he could expect monthly wages of £6.

Thomas Graham survived the sinking but how he escaped is not clear. He was called to the British Inquiry as a witness but was not required to give any evidence.

Following the disaster Thomas continued working at sea. He was married in his native Belfast on 2 March 1913 to Elizabeth Murphy (b. 1891), daughter of boilermaker James Murphy; he was described as a fireman and his address at the time was stated as 52 Agnes Street, Belfast. The marriage proved timely as only weeks later their daughter Elizabeth arrived on 20 April 1913 and at the time their address was listed as 18 Sanders Street, Belfast. Their first child would be followed by another daughter the following year, Isabella (b. 29 August 1914) and the family later lived at 64 Island Street in Sydenham, east Belfast.

Following the outbreak of WWI Thomas was quick to sign up for service with the Royal Irish Rifles but whether he ever saw any combat is not certain. In October 1917, in Newcastle, Co Down, an inquiry was held on account of his desertion, he having gone missing on 9 September 1917 and absconding aboard a ship. The identity of the ship is not stated or known but his wife declared that he deserted that vessel at Baltimore and that he had correspondence with her, he asking her not to use his real or full birth-name in any further communication.

On 15 February 1918 Thomas had applied for US citizenship, stating his then current address as 1501 First Street, Baltimore and described himself as a railroad fireman who had arrived in the USA at Virginia aboard Vigilant on 14 January 1918; he also declared that his wife was still in Ireland at 64 Island Street. 

Thomas was listed as living in Belfast at the time of the 1918 street directory, still at 64 Island Street and still described as a seaman but whether he was actually resident there at the time appears doubtful. What became of he and his family thereafter is not known1.


  1. Interestingly a Thomas Graham born in Northern Ireland (sic) in 1883 appears on the 1940 census of New York, living at Wallace Avenue in the Bronx and described as a widowed railroad labourer. Whether this is the same man is not known. An ancestry.com family tree shows that his daughter Isabella married a Sligo man, Edward Francis Phillips (1909-2001) and had a son named Ronald in London in 1937. Isabella died in London in 1997. 

Titanic Crew Summary

Name: Mr Thomas Gibson Graham
Age: 28 years 3 months and 20 days (Male)
Nationality: Irish
Marital Status: Single
Last Residence: at 28 Downpatrick Street Belfast, Ireland
Occupation: Fireman
Last Ship: Howth Head
Embarked: Belfast on Friday 29th March 1912
Disembarked Carpathia: New York City on Thursday 18th April 1912

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Photo: National Archives (Courtesy of Gavin Bell)

Research Articles

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


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Comment and discuss

  1. david moore

    david moore said:

    have just found out that this is my greatgrannys brother, i have been told that my grandfather and great grandfather both worked on the titanic although i have yet to get this confirmed

  2. Joe Hickey

    Joe Hickey said:

    Hi David, Have just came across your post (having given up many years ago trying to verify family lore that my Grandmother Mary Graham's brother was a Stoker on the Titanic).....did you ever get any further with your search?Regards Joe Hickey

  3. Joe Hickey

    Joe Hickey said:

    I have just found this post ( having given up many years ago trying to confirm that family lore about my Granny Mary Graham's brother was a stoker on the titanic).....have you got any further David?

  4. Tyler Graham

    Tyler Graham said:

    Yay, Thomas G. survived! My last name is graham! I bet that he was really cool and amazing before he died! Really a fireman on the Titanc AWESOME!!!!!

  5. Coleen Large

    Coleen Large said:

    Does anyone know if this man was a member of the Orange Order?

  6. Jenn Hope

    Jenn Hope said:

    This is my relative, a cousin of my great grandmother.

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