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William Edwy Ryerson

William Edwy Ryerson
William Edwy Ryerson

William Edwy Ryerson was born in Port Dover, Norfolk, Ontario, Canada on 7 December 1878.

He was the son of George Arthur Ryerson (b. 1851) and Catherine Eleanor Hamilton (b. 1854), both Ontario-natives who had married in 1875 in Toronto and who went on to have three children (that are known of). William's siblings were: George Arthur (b. 1877) and Charles Arthur Egerton (b. 1880).

William was living in York, Ontario when his father died in 1881. His mother was remarried several years later to Thomas Edward Williams (b. 1855) and had a daughter named Kate Hamilton (b. 1888) before her own death in 1889.  William joined the Royal Canadian Dragoons at a young age and later joined a British regiment where he served during the Boer War. Following this he served time in India but contracted typhoid, necessitating his immediate return to England for treatment. Following his recovery he began working at sea in the Merchant Service, initially for Cunard.

William was married near Birmingham, Warwickshire on 17 December 1906 to Florence Annie Mallison (b. 5 September 1881), a native of Southgate, London. The couple would have six children: Clarence Edwy (1907-1937), Katie Hamilton (1910-1984, later Mrs Stanley George Newling), Thomas Arthur (1912-1994), William Ernest (1914-2003) Ronald Jack (1918-1990) and Ralph Egerton (1920-1996). He, his wife and first two children appeared on the 1911 census living at 27 Amberley Road, Paddington, London and William was described as a storeman.

When he signed on to the Titanic, on 4 April 1912, William gave his address as 18 Salop Road, Walthamstow, citing the Titanic as his first ship. As a second class saloon steward, he could expect monthly wages of £3, 15s. Unbeknownst to him, his wealthy American third cousin, once removed (they shared a common great-great-grandfather) Arthur Larned Ryerson, and his family, was travelling aboard the Titanic in first class.

Following the disaster, William returned to England. His wife had been pregnant at the time and gave birth in May 1912 to a son named Thomas Arthur. William resumed his career at sea and during the First World War enlisted in the 159th Gun Brigade, Royal Field Artillery, rising to the rank of Sergeant. The family would move back to Ontario with his family sometime around 1919 where he various jobs, including farming, the post office and as a customs officer. Following retirement, he and his wife resettled in England but would make several more trips across the Atlantic.

William died in Runwell, Essex on 9 December 1949 and he was buried in St Mary's Churchyard, Runwell and his resting place remained unmarked until 2012 when, on 15 April of that month to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the sinking, a headstone was finally unveiled:







His widow Florence moved to Oxford to be near her youngest child Ronald and she died there on 11 September 1968. His last surviving child, William, died in Simcoe, Ontario in 2003.

Titanic Crew Summary

Name: Mr William Edwy Ryerson
Age: 33 years 4 months and 8 days (Male)
Nationality: Canadian
Marital Status: Married to Florence Annie Mallison
Last Residence: at 18 Salop Road Walthamstow, Essex, England
Last Ship: First Ship
Embarked: Southampton on Thursday 4th April 1912
Rescued (boat 9)  
Disembarked Carpathia: New York City on Thursday 18th April 1912

Linked Biography

Arthur Larned Ryerson

Distant Cousin

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References and Sources

General Register Office Certified Copy of an Entry of Death
Don Lynch & Ken Marschall (1992) Titanic: An Illustrated History. London, Hodder & Stoughton. ISBN 0 340 56271 4
Ryerse, Phyllis; Rich Men Poor Men, Ryersons on the Titanic: 2012, ISBN 978-1-4456-1013-9
Grave Marker for Titanic Sinks In: http://www.woodstocksentinelreview.com/2012/03/26/grave-marker-for-titanic-survivor-sinks-in  


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  1. Andrew Maheux

    Andrew Maheux said:

    The Ryerson family had a distant cousin that was also on the Titanic working as a 1st class saloon steward. His name was William Edwy Ryerson and he survived the sinking. Does anybody know if the Ryersons knew that their cousin was also on board? Any info will be great. Thanxs, Andrew

  2. George Behe

    George Behe said:

    Hi, Andrew! Phyllis Ryerse (the Ryerson family genealogist) and I have both tried to find the answer to that question, but without success. We feel it's pretty unlikely, though, that Arthur Ryerson knew about William Edwy's presence on the Titanic (or vice versa.) By the way, Phyllis is the author of an excellent Commutator article about the Ryerson family: "Rich Man, Poor Man." All my best, George

  3. Gavin Murphy

    Gavin Murphy said:

    I think George's comments are corroborated in Titanic: The Canadian Story by Alan Hustak. G

  4. Andrew Maheux

    Andrew Maheux said:

    Thanks for your information, Regards, Andrew

  5. Jennifer Mueller

    Jennifer Mueller said:

    i would like to know if mr and mrs ryerson ever got to meet their distant cousin william edwy ryerson years after the sinking and if not what was the reason for not meeting because if i had a relative who was on board the ship that i was sailing on i would do all i can to see that person thanks jenny mueller

  6. Michael Shetina

    Michael Shetina said:

    According to one book, I forget its title, they did not know they were on board

  7. Michael Shetina

    Michael Shetina said:

    I meant to say he did not know they were on board

  8. Brandon Whited

    Brandon Whited said:

    Michael, That book was "Titanic: An Illustrated History." As you said, they did not know their distant cousin was aboard. Cheers, -B.W.

  9. Jennifer Mueller

    Jennifer Mueller said:

    i have that book and my question and i know that they didnt meet on the ship the question is if they ever met years after the sinking jennifer mueller

  10. Stephen Trois

    Stephen Trois said:

    I am in contact with decendents of the Ryersons they have little information. They do however know much about their extesive family roots. They are most freindly and helpful. SET

  11. Arun Vajpey

    Arun Vajpey said:

    I am eternally fascinated about this "the other Ryerson" story, which certainly rings true. Is it not highly likely that the 1st Class Ryerson family did not want to know that their poor relative was on board, considering the strict social divisions of the time?

  12. Arun Vajpey

    Arun Vajpey said:

    Over the years I have tried to find out more information about how William "the other" Ryerson survived but have drawn a blank. On ET there is a brief biography about his life before and after the Titanic disaster but nothing at all about his activities on board during the voyage much less how me might have survived the sinking. He is not even mentioned in any of the Lifeboats' survivor lists. I checked various books about the Titanic that I own and other than a brief mention and photograph in Don Lynch's Titanic boon, there is no more information. I find this surprising and frustrating... Read full post

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Gavin Bell, UK
Peter Engberg-Klarström, Sweden
Phillip Gowan, USA