Mr Walter James Hawksford was born in Kensington, Middlesex, England on 30 January 1867. He was later baptised in St Peter's Church in Walworth on 25 April 1869 and at that time was a resident of 1 Palmserston Terrace, Southwark.
He was the eldest child of Nicholas Walter Hawksford (1839-1906), a master bootmaker, and Annie Elizabeth Smith (1847-1915), both natives of Middlesex who had married on 20 May 1866 in St Peter's Church in Notting Hill.
Walter had six known siblings (including two brothers named Nicholas Henry): Nicholas Henry (1869-1869), Nicholas Henry (b. 1873), Albert Lowell (b. 1876), Thomas Edward (b. 1879), Lilian Mary Bonnett (b. 1883) and Edith Beatrice (b. 1890).
The family appear on the 1871 and 1881 censuses living at 128 Portobello Road, Kensington. By 1891 they were living at 4 Ballarat Terrace, Jocelyn Road, Richmond, Surrey and Walter was by now described as a clerk and his father as a general shop dealer selling furniture.
Walter was married in Lewes, Sussex in 1892 to Edith Deal (b. 1868), a native of Richmond, Surrey and the daughter of a watchmaker. The couple had two children1: Mabel Vera (b. 1893, later Mrs Frank Gaydon) and Walter Leslie (1899-1971) and also fostered a child, John "Jack" Auguste Pouchot (b. 1899).2
On the 1901 and 1911 censuses the family were living at Tanjore, Canbury Gardens, Lower Ham Road, Kingston, Surrey and Walter was described as an export representative. He was a member of Kingston Rowing Club, a hobby which probably helped save his life.
Walter boarded the Titanic at Southampton as a first class passenger (ticket number 16988 which cost £30) and he occupied cabin D-45. He was travelling to New York to become the first Export Sales Manager for Schweppes.
In a letter to his wife he mentioned that after the collision people joked about it and said that the ship had just pushed an iceberg out of the way. During the evacuation an officer loading a boat asked if any men could handle an oar: Walter stepped forward and was rescued in lifeboat 3. He later recounted:
“It was a very cold but beautiful night, starry, and the sea as smooth as glass, we watched her bow gradually getting lower then about two o’clock all the lights went out, her stern rose in the air, and she slowly glided away... We raised our hats, lowered our heads, and nobody spoke for some minutes.”
He arrived in New York wearing the same clothes in which he had left Titanic and he was penniless. A company representative met him and gave him $100, enabling him to stay in the Hotel Astor from where he wrote to his wife.
Walter Hawksford continued to live at the same address for the rest of his life and died on 13 November 1922 aged 55. His widow was never remarried and died in a nursing home in Uxbridge on 2 November 1955.