Encyclopedia Titanica

William Watson Lucas

William Watson Lucas
William Watson Lucas

Mr William Watson Lucas was born in Poplar, London, England on 31 January 1881.1 At the time of his baptism, on 24 June that year in All Saints, Poplar, he was a resident of 56 Cotton Street.

He was the son of Clement Orestes Lucas (1840-1885), a mariner, and Martha Tanner (1848-1932), both natives of Hampshire who were married in Southampton on 22 January 1872. One of five children born to his parents, William's siblings were: Totty Jane Ann (1872-1962), Martha Mathilda (1875-1916), Thomas Kelson (1878-1951) and Orestes Clement (1884-1908).

William's father worked as a steward and pantryman in the Merchant Service. He was serving aboard the Eastern Extension Telegraph steamer Magneta, bound for Malta, as Third Steward when that ship foundered on her maiden voyage on 9 March 1885 during a storm in the Bay of Biscay with the loss of all aboard.

The remaining family apparently returned to Hampshire shortly after and appear on the 1891 census living at 27 Trinity Road, St Mary, Southampton, with William's mother Martha working as a domestic cook to support her family.

By the time of the 1901 census William was still living with his family, now at 3 Cardigan Terrace, Southampton, he being described as a hotel porter. Still present at that address in 1911 for the next census, William was by now described as a waiter in the Merchant Marine and was still living with his mother and siblings, including a nephew James Frank Lewis Lucas (b. 1894).

Lucas initially signed-on to the Titanic in Belfast for her delivery trip to Southampton. When he signed-on again, on 4 April 1912, he gave his age as 30 and his address as 3 Cardigan Terrace, Southampton. His previous ship had been the Olympic and as a saloon steward he received monthly wages of £3, 15s.

Lucas survived the sinking, managing to climb into the waterlogged collapsible A.

William returned to Southampton and resumed his career at sea. At the time of his surviving identity card (circa 1919) he was again serving aboard the Olympic as a bedroom steward. By 1937 he was working aboard Empress of Australia as a bedroom steward. In May 1939 Empress of Australia was requisitioned for use as the Royal yacht for King George VI and Queen Elizabeth's Royal visit to Canada and Lucas served aboard for that tour. The voyage was not without incident and dense fog caused two near collisions with icebergs and resulted in a day's delay in the Royal couple's arrival in Québec. Lucas' presence aboard as a Titanic survivor was reported in the contemporary media.

William Lucas remained in Southampton for the rest of his life and, like most of his siblings, was never married. He passed away on 7 May 1944 aged 63. He is buried in Hollybrook Cemetery, Southampton (section A12, plot 73).

His last surviving sibling, Totty, died in Southampton in 1962 aged 89.


  1. He gave his birth date as 31 January 1880 in his circa 1919 crew card. Birth and baptismal records confirm his year of birth as 1881.
  2. The parentage of James Frank Lewis Lucas is not certain although it is likely that he was the illegitimate son of one of William's sisters, either Totty or Martha who both remained unmarried in their lives.

References and Sources

Agreement and Account of Crew (PRO London, BT100/259)
Particulars of Engagement (Belfast), Ulster Folk and Transport Museum (TRANS 2A/45 381)
London, England, Births and Baptisms, 1813-1906
1881 -1911 Census
CR10 Identity card #820369 c.1919 (National Archives)
General Register Office Register of Births, Marriages and Deaths
Sunday Mirror, 14 May 1939, Royal Liner's 'Bergs Escape
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Titanic Crew Summary

Name: Mr William Watson Lucas
Age: 31 years 2 months and 15 days (Male)
Nationality: English
Marital Status: Single
Last Residence: at 3 Cardigan Terrace Southampton, Hampshire, England
Last Ship: Olympic
Embarked: Belfast on Monday 1st April 1912
Rescued (boat A)  
Disembarked Carpathia: New York City on Thursday 18th April 1912
Died: Sunday 7th May 1944 aged 63 years
Buried: Hollybrook Cemetery, Southampton, Hampshire, England

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