Encyclopedia Titanica

William Ward

Mr William Ward, known colloquially as George, was born in Handsworth, Staffordshire, England1 on 18 August 1874.

He was the son of John Ward (1848-1923), an auctioneer and surveyor, and Mary Emma Taylor (1849-1919). His father was Scottish and his mother was from Bradford, Yorkshire and they had married in 1870, producing fifteen children, which included two sets of twins.

William's siblings were: Mary Elizabeth (b. 1872), John Henry (b, 1873), Jeannie Isabelle (b. 1876), Robert (b. 1877), Frederick Robson (b. 1879), Lionel (b. 1880), Sydney (b. 1882), twins Kenneth and Margaret (b. 1884), Herbert Glendenning (b. 1886), Richard Neil (b. 1888), twins Kathleen and Helen (b. 1890) and Ralph Douglas (b. 1894).

The family later moved from their native Handsworth around 1878 and appear on the 1881 census living at 183 Hagley Road, Edgbaston, Birmingham, Warwickshire, thereafter relocating around the mid-1880s to Enfield, Middlesex. The family are shown on the 1891 census living at Wellington Road, Enfield and William was described as a clerk.

William had worked at sea for twenty years and survived five wrecks previously. He later spent time living in Australia and was married in Victoria in 1902 to a New South Wales-born woman named Amelia Anne Gleeson (b. 1877), a native of Bega and daughter of John and Mary Anne Gleeson. 
The couple welcomed their firstborn John whilst in Melbourne the following year. The small family soon resettled in England, appearing on the 1911 census living at 107 Millbrook Road, Freemantle, Southampton with William being described as a ship's steward.

When he signed on to Titanic, on 6 April 1912, Ward gave his address as 107 Millbrook Road, Southampton. His previous ship had been the New York and as a steward he could expect monthly wages of £3, 15s.

The Titanic was his first trip as a steward in the employ of the White Star Line, having previously sailed on American boats. This is the sixth time that Ward had been shipwrecked. On one occasion he was picked up after being two days in an open boat under tropical skies. Before he sailed on the Titanic, Ward's son Jack told his father not to go as "the ship was going to roll over." Since the diaster, the boy dreamt three times that he and his parents had gone to the cinema which convinced him his father was safe. - Hampshire Advertiser, 20 April 1912

At the time of the collision Ward had just turned in; his cabin was located amidships, portside on E deck. After feeling a shock he went to a porthole and opened it. Seeing nothing he returned to his bunk: "...  I lay there for about 20 minutes, and in the meantime the steerage passengers were coming from forward, coming aft, carrying lifebelts."

He still remained in his bunk, until a waiter (William Moss) told him to put on some clothing and get on deck. "With that, I think most everybody in the 'glory hole', as we call it, got dressed and went on deck." It was then he was ordered by Second Steward Dodd to go to the saloon on D deck, order everyone there to go up on deck and bring lifebelts. Arriving there, he found no one but returned with 7 lifebelts, which he distributed to those who hadn't any. Putting one on himself, he noticed there was no excitement or confusion. "A lot of the ladies and gentlemen there that were just treating it as a kind of joke."

Ward then went to his assigned station, lifeboat 7 on the starboard side, where he saw First Officer Murdoch, Bruce Ismay and Purser McElroy. After helping to load it he then went aft to boat 9 with bathroom steward James Widgery. Haines, a boatswains mate, assisted in loading this boat. "One lady... absolutely refused to get into the boat. She went back to the companionway and forced her way in." After loading the passengers, the Purser (McElroy) ordered Ward into the boat and it was lowered into the water. The boat was pretty well packed, Ward would testify later, "We had not room to pull the oars - they (the passengers) had to move their bodies with us when we were rowing." Then, a couple of hundred yards off, they laid on their oars. As the ship went down, they pulled further away to escape any suction, but there was very little. Until that time, Ward was "...of the opinion that she would float." They did not pull back to look for survivors as the boat was already full. Later, after the Carpathia arrived, he remembered they were the fourth or fifth boat to be picked up. He reported to the US Senate inquiry that there was no drinking that night by any of the crew.

He sent his family back in England a telegram, informing them of his safety. Upon his arrival in New York he was called to give evidence at the US Inquiry into the sinking, which he did on Thursday 25 April. He soon returned to England but was not called to testify at the British Inquiry.

How long William continued to work at sea is not clear and he and his family returned to Australia. Whilst a resident of Double Bay, New South Wales, William's wife Amelia died in a private hospital in Darlinghurst, New South Wales on 24 June 1927.

William did not remain a widower long and that same year was remarried to a much younger lady, Mary Gertrude Aldous (b. 1899) of Nowra, New South Wales, daughter of Arnold and Sarah Aldous. 

William and his second wife Mary welcomed a son Kenneth who was born in Sydney on 15 April 1928.

William later left the sea and worked as a storeman; by the early 1930s the family were living at 48 Eddy Avenue in the Sydney-suburb of Artarmon. Later the same decade the family were making their home at 16 Lucknow Street in Willoughby, another Sydney suburb and where William would live for the rest of his life. 

William Ward died in Sydney on 19 July 1941 aged 66. He was cremated at Northern Suburbs Memorial Gardens and Crematorium, Sydney and his ashes were scattered in the Rosary Gardens.

His widow Mary died 25 July 1949, still a resident of 16 Lucknow Street at the time. 

Both of William's sons are believed to have remained in Australia, both passing away in the early 1990s.



  1. He would later give his birthplace as Warwickshire on the crew agreements and in the 1911 census he stated he had been born in Edgbaston, Birmingham, Warwickshire. He spent a portion of his early life in Edgbaston but had not been born there.

References and Sources

United States Senate (62nd Congress), Subcommittee Hearings of the Committee on Commerce, Titanic Disaster, Washington 1912
Sydney Morning Herald, 25 June 1927, Obituary of Amelia Anne Gleeson Ward
Sydney Morning Herald, 21 July 1941, Death notice for William
Sydney Morning Herald, 26 July 1949, Obituary of Mary Gertrude Aldous Ward

Research Articles

Senan Molony Titanica! (2008) 12.45am - A Time to Go!
What time did the first lifeboat depart the Titanic?

Newspaper Articles

Neil Hotson Southern Daily Echo (16 February 2002) Human tragedy of the Titanic
Search archive online

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Titanic Crew Summary

Name: Mr William Ward (George)
Age: 37 years 7 months and 28 days (Male)
Nationality: English
Marital Status: Married to Amelia Anne Gleeson
Occupation: Saloon Steward
Last Ship: New York
Embarked: Southampton on Saturday 6th April 1912
Rescued (boat 9)  
Disembarked Carpathia: New York City on Thursday 18th April 1912

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