Wilfred Cyril Foley was born in Swansea, Glamorganshire, Wales around March 1890.
He was the son of Michael Foley (b. 1862), a blacksmith, and Sarah Tanner (née Daley?) (b. 1859), both Swansea-natives who had married in 1889. His mother Sarah had at least three children, Ellen (b. 1881), Lottie (b. 1883) and William (b. 1886) from a previous relationship with William Tanner (died 1888?) and he had one direct sibling, Winifred (b. 1892).
When Wilfred first appears on the 1891 census he and his family were living at 10 Fisher Street, Swansea. He was listed at the same address by the time of the 1901 census but his parents were absent, he perhaps being cared for solely by his elder step-sisters whilst his parents were elsewhere working. He left Swansea around 1907 and settled in Southampton with his family.
By the time of the 1911 census Wilfred and his family were living at 15 Andersons Road, Chapel, Southampton. His father is now described as a dredging master and Wilfred as a seafarer in the merchant service.
When he signed-on to the Titanic, on 6 April 1912, Wilfred gave his address as 15 Monson's Road, Chapel. His last ship had been the Oceanic and as a third class steward he received monthly wages of £3, 15s.
Foley was rescued, probably in lifeboat 13. Early reports suggested that he was amongst the lost, possibly confusing him with third class passenger William Foley, and his family became grief-stricken until it emerged that he had indeed survived.
He was not called to testify at either the American or British Inquiries into the sinking and it is not clear if he ever returned to sea in a working capacity again.
Wilfred resettled in Britain after the disaster and never married; he and his family moved to Woolwich, Kent, settling at 220 Albert Road.
With the outbreak of war in 1914 Foley signed up for service in August 1915 with the 10th Battalion of the Royal West Kent Regiment; he was described as standing at 5' 3" weighing 125 lbs and he had brown eyes, dark hair and a dark complexion; his profession was listed as that of a general labourer and he stated inaccurately that he was 27 years old. Private Foley never saw the battlefields and was discharged from service in Maidstone on 6 December 1915 as he was ".... not likely to become an efficient soldier on Medical grounds" and it was recorded that he was afflicted with pulmonary tuberculosis.
Wilfred died in Lewisham only a few months later in mid-1916 aged 26.
Sian Prescott, Wales
Agreement and Account of Crew (PRO London, BT100/259)
South Wales Daily News, 17th April 1912 p.5, 18th April 1912 p.5
Western Mail, 18th April 1912 p.5
British Army WWI Pension Records 1914-1920
GRO Register of Births, Marriages and Deaths