Mr William Ward (Saloon Steward, 1st Class) was born in Handsworth, Staffordshire, England 1 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 soon 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 where he was married in 1903 to a Sydney-born woman named Amelia Anne Gleeson (b. 1877) and their son John Lawrence Ward born the following year in Melbourne. The small family soon resettled in England, appearing on the 1911 census living at 107 Millbrook Road, Freemantle, Southampton and William was 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. What became of his wife Amelia is not known but he was remarried in the mid-1920s to a lady named Mary Gertrude Aldous (1899-1949) and they had a son named Kenneth who was born on 15 April 1928 in Sydney.
William Ward died in Sydney on 19 July 1941 aged 66. Both his sons are believed to have died in the early 1990s in Australia.
Pat Cook, USA
Dr Paul Lee
- 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.
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Southern Daily Echo (2002)