Mr William Stephen Faulkner was born in Oxton, Birkenhead, Cheshire, England on 31 March 1877.
He was the son of Samuel Faulkner (1852-1931), an iron turner and a professional cricketer, and Harriett Elizabeth Jenkins (1858-1928). His father was a native of Birkenhead and his mother from Southampton and they had married in Liverpool's St Paul's Church on 9 March 1875. His cricketer father was later a steward of the Birkenhead Constitutional Club and was well-known in the locality.
William was the eldest of ten children, two of whom died in infancy. His siblings were: George (1875-1877), Henry Victor (b. 1879), Beatrice Helen (b. 1881), Harriet Maud (b. 1884), Charles Frederick (b. 1890), Florence Mary (b. 1892), Mildred Muriel (b. 1894), Lester (b. 1896) and Frank (1898-1898). His brother Charles would also go to sea and would be a member of the crew on board SS Republic in 1906 when that liner collided with the Italian steamer Florida and sank.
William Faulkner as a younger man
(Birkenhead and Cheshire Advertiser, 20 April 1912)
William first appears on the 1881 census whilst living with his grandparents William and Jane Faulkner at 24 Bright Street, Birkenhead; his parents and younger brother Henry were listed at an address in Oxton Village. The 1891 census has William and his family living at 24 Mornington Street; William, aged 14, had already left school and is working as an office boy.
Faulkner later went to sea, working for the Pacific and Booth Lines before joining the White Star Line. He first appears on crew records in 1893 when, aged 16, he was working as a smoke room boy aboard Britannia, his ship prior to that being the New York; a year later he was engaged to join the same ship as an engineer's servant but failed to join on that occasion.
He was married in Birkenhead in 1899 to Sybil Isabel Beams (b. 19 June 1871 in Ewell, Surrey) and they would have four children, three living past infancy. Son Frank Victor arrived on 4 October 1900 followed by son Leonard Henry on 30 October 1903 and daughter Eileen Marie on 6 May 1906. Another child, daughter Dorothy Adeline Sybil was born in early 1905 but lived just a short while.
The 1901 census shows that William was absent from the home but his wife and first child were living at 76 Woodville Road, Birkenhead. He would be absent again from the 1911 census, his family then living at 16 Mounsey Road, Birkenhead.
When he signed on to the Titanic on 4 April 1912 Faulkner gave his address as 16 Mounsey Road Birkenhead. His previous ship had been the Celtic and as a first class bedroom steward, he could expect to earn monthly wages of £3, 15.
On the night of the sinking, William was assisting to fill and lower the aft starboard lifeboats. He was reportedly handed the infant Trevor Hudson Allison, a first class passenger, whilst the child's nanny Alice Catherine Cleaver was assisted into lifeboat 11. William, with a child in his arms, was permitted to follow suit. Following rescue by the Carpathia, and during the voyage to New York, Faulkner was reportedly the only person whom Alice Cleaver would let visit the orphaned child.
Faulkner, not being required to testify at either the US or British Inquiries into the disaster, returned to England and continued a career at sea into the 1920s and beyond. The mid-1920s saw him serving aboard the Adriatic; in 1930 he began a long career with the Britannic (1930-1960) and was still shown working as a bath steward aboard that vessel in November 1944.
In his final years, William Faulkner and his family lived at 20 Greenbank Drive, Pensby in the Wirral. He was preceded in death by his wife Sybil who passed away following a long illness on 12 November 1941.
William Faulkner battled in his last months with stomach cancer; bronchopneumonia hastened his demise and he passed away at the Royal Infirmary, Liverpool on 22 September 1949 aged 72. He was buried 26 September 1949 in Landican Cemetery and Crematorium, Wirral, Merseyside, England, in section 2 C/E, plot 746.
His son Frank later worked as a shipbuilding electrician; he married Sybil Mutch (b. 1905) in 1927 and had two children, a daughter Doreen (b. 1929) and son Brian (b. 1937). He died in Birkenhead on 12 January 1983.
Son Leonard later worked as a shipwright; he was married in 1929 to Nellie Hunt (b. 1904) and raised a family. He died in Birkenhead in 1976.
Daughter Eileen later worked as a clerk; she never married and died in Birkenhead on 31 July 1975.