Encyclopedia Titanica

William Thompson Sloper

William Thompson Sloper
William Thompson Sloper

Mr William Thompson Sloper, 28, from New Britain, CT., was born on 13 December 1883, son of Andrew Jackson Sloper, former president of New Britain National Bank, and Ella Thomson Sloper.

Sloper, a stockbroker and estate manager, was returning from a three-month vacation in Europe. On his tour, he had met the family of Mark Fortune. Sloper apparently became so fond of Alice Fortune that he cancelled his passage on the Mauretania and booked instead on the Titanic which he boarded at Southampton as a first-class passenger.

When the Titanic struck the iceberg, Sloper was playing bridge with some friends. Sloper was rescued in lifeboat 7. The lifeboat was one of the early boats sent away and First Officer William Murdoch was freely allowing men into the starboard side lifeboats when there were no women around.

According to Mr Sloper, he owed his life to Dorothy Gibson, an actress and one of his bridge companions, who got into the lifeboat and insisted that he join her. He pointed out that many persons aboard felt that the Titanic was "unsinkable" and therefore, did not want to leave the well-lit deck to set off into the dark waters in small boats.

When the Carpathia arrived in New York, Sloper was, naturally, inundated by members of the press - as were all survivors. One of Sloper's best friends, however, was Jack Vance, a newspaper editor for the New Britain Herald. Sloper had determined he would speak only to his friend concerning his experiences.

A New York Herald reporter identified Sloper on the 19th April, as having dressed in women's clothing to escape the ship. On the advice of his father, other family members and trusted friends, Sloper did not sue the Herald nor the reporter. He decided that the fuss would eventually pass; He spent the rest of his life refuting the charge.

Following the disaster, Sloper became a managing partner of Judd & Co. in New Britain, a private investment firm which in 1926 succeeded the former New York Stock Exchange firm of Judd & Co.

William T. Sloper Helen Sloper

He married Mrs Helen Tallmadge Lindenberg on 26 February 1915 in Columbus, Ohio and raised her three daughters from a previous marriage. Helen died on 30 July 1967 at the age of 82.

In November 1949, The Life and Times of Andrew Jackson Sloper written by his son was published. Although the book was undoubtedly begun as a biography of A. J. Sloper, it centres more upon the memoirs of William Sloper and the history of New Britain manufacturing concerns and industrialists.

Mr Sloper passed away on 1 May 1955. He was buried at Fairview Cemetery, New Britain, Connecticut.

© MichaelA. Findlay, USA

References and Sources

Sloper's account of the sinking.
Connecticut State Department of Health Certificate of Death
Ship to Shore, Oceanographic Navigation Research Society. Spring 1984. Pages 301-413.
Hartford Courant, 16 April 1912
Unidentified Newspaper (New Britain, CT.), May 2, 1955, Obituary

Newspaper Articles

William T. Sloper Ship to Shore William Sloper's Account of the Titanic Disaster

Documents and Certificates

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Comment and discuss

  1. Mike Herbold

    This is mostly intended for Charles and Daniel: (For some reason, I can't converse on-line right now, other than on E.T.) In "The Life and Times of Andrew Jackson Sloper", on pages 411-412, there is reference to a passenger from San Francisco by the name of Smith who survived the Titanic disaster, and who was a room-mate of Sloper's on the Carpathia. Naturally, with my interest in anything California-related, this reference caught my attention. But in spite of the work reference(assistant cashier in a SF bank), description (tall, handsome, blond young man), and specific information... Read full post

  2. Dave Smith

    Dave Smith

    Hi Mike, Where did you find a copy of the Sloper biography? I live in Hartford,Connecticut and have had no luck in finding a copy. In fact, I lived in New Britain for three years and no one recalls the Sloper-Titanic connection. Can you elaborate on the Sloper story? I only recall reading that he was met by this father in New York and returned to New Britain. No mention of a traveling companion. Dave

  3. Pat Cook

    Hi, Dave and Mike, I hope you don't mind my dropping in here but I was just rereading the Sloper account myself - a very good friend of mine, Fiona Beckwith, sent me the 'Titanic' chapter of his book, "The Life and Times of Andrew Jackson Sloper", published in 1949 (Sorry, I don't have the publisher's name). Also, unless I missed it, one of the reasons, if not the MAIN reason, the young 'Smith' killed himself is he was one of those unfortunates that had been accused of posing as a woman to leave the ship. Sloper, as you know, at the hands of a vindictive reporter, was reported... Read full post

  4. Mike Herbold

    Pat: From what you said about Sloper taking liberties, is it possible then that he could have even been talking about Washington Dodge? Dodge was neither tall or blond, but he did get involved in banking and did kill himself in 1919. (I also only have a photocopy of the chapter on the Titanic only, but would love to find a copy of the original book.) Mike

  5. Pat Cook

    Hi, Mike, Actually, I thought about rereading Dodge's Commonwealth speech to see if he made any references. However, I don't believe Sloper's 'Smith' was Dodge himself. First, I haven't found any references either to him or from him regarding being accused of escaping dressed as a woman ('in a nightgown' as Sloper writes). Second, we have Steward Ray's U S testimony that he literally bundled Dodge into lifeboat #13. Third, Washington Dodge, by his own account, after arriving upon the Carpathia was met by Wallace Bradford who gave over his cabin for Dodge and his family, so Dodge... Read full post

  6. Mike Herbold

    Pat: The trouble is, we don't know which part of Sloper's writings is the fact and which is fiction. There was no other male San Francisco survivor; there was no other passenger that later committed suicide who anywhere near fits the bill; so Sloper could just as easily have changed the city and the occupation. It seems like what we are left with is an excellent personal account of the tragedy with all the peripheral facts changed to disguise other people. So as a historical reference, Sloper might as well have written a historical novel. Incidentally, the photocopy I have of "The... Read full post

  7. Pat Cook

    Hi, Mike, All too true, regarding what is fact and what it fiction regarding Sloper's account. Exactly WHERE do we begin to try to connect and identify. "Smith" could very well be Dodge - same number of letters in the last name as Sloper substituted "Dalton" for "Carter". And, as you pointed out, Dodge was from Frisco and later took his own life. But WAS Dodge ever accused of dressing as a woman? He may well have been, if we are to take a clue from Sloper himself. After he was accused in print of this act, he wanted to sue for slander but was talked out of it because of the expense -... Read full post

  8. Mike Herbold

    Pat: Don't lose too much sleep over it. I was initially excited because it looked like there was a California passenger that I had missed, forgetting that Sloper said himself that he disguised people's names on purpose. In re-reading Washington Dodge's address to the Commonwealth Club, his extra care in explaining how he, a male, survived is evident. Even only one month after the disaster, he seems thin-skinned and defensive about it. Here's a telling line from his speech: "As there seems to be in the minds of a few of the people in this community, a question as to why any of the eighty... Read full post

  9. Fiona Nitschke

    Hello Mike, Dave & Cook, Believe it or not I've puzzled over the identity of 'Smith' quite often, but like you could not find an appropriate match from surviving first class male survivors. The Dodge surmise is interesting, as I was interpreting Sloper's story a bit too literally: 'young' man, first class passenger, probably single, in banking, committed suicide. I was encouraged in my hunt for Smith based on the ease with which I was able to identify 'Mr Dalton' (William Carter). Sadly misplaced confidence in the case of 'Smith'... Thanks for the information on where else... Read full post

  10. Fiona Nitschke

    Oops! Forgot to add thanks for the 'heads up' on this one to George Behe. Thanks George! Jungian Synchronicity comes into play again?...

  11. Mike Poirier

    Keep in mind Sloper wrote this many, many years after the fact so individual facts were confused. ( the bright deck lights, etc... )But Dodge is the only one who comes close to the description. Remember he said Willie Dalton was in the collapsible with 12 people. Which was another error. SO in describing Smith and the reasons he shot himself over the years I believe became clouded. But I am sure he never wanted to hurt whatever family members Dodge had left so he vaguely disguised his description. But since I have the original article in my possesion that is whom I think it is and why.

  12. Daniel Rosenshine

    Daniel Rosenshine

    This is directed at Mike H. and others involved in this discussion. I too was puzzled by the "Smith" reference in Sloper's account. As for Dalton, Sloper does not seem to make any "intentional" misleading (other than the name) to disguise Carter. There are certainly mistakes, but surely 3 1/2 decades after the disaster, is the cause of this. He even implies the correct date (year) of death for Carter. As for Smith, quite personally, after some thought, I have come to the conclusion, that Sloper was indeed implying Dodge himself. There wasn't much unique detail about Carter, thus severe... Read full post

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Titanic Passenger Summary

Name: Mr William Thompson Sloper
Age: 28 years 4 months and 2 days (Male)
Nationality: American
Marital Status: Single
Occupation: Stockbroker
Embarked: Southampton on Wednesday 10th April 1912
Ticket No. 113788, £35 10s
Rescued (boat 7)  
Disembarked Carpathia: New York City on Thursday 18th April 1912
Died: Sunday 1st May 1955 aged 71 years
Cause of Death:
Buried: Fairview Cemetery, New Britain, Connecticut, United States

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