Mr Alfred Cotton

Mr Alfred Cotton was born in Fawley, Hampshire, England on 15 June 1876.

He was the son of William Cotton (b. 1842), a builder and carpenter, and Fanny Ward (b. 1833), both natives of Hampshire who had married in Southampton in 1875. 

Alfred was apparently their only child; the family appeared on the 1891 census living at Newtown, Fawley, Hampshire and Alfred, aged 14, had already left school and was working as a general labourer. His mother died in 1893 and his father was remarried several years later to Mary Frances Smith (b. 1870) of the same locale.

Alfred was himself married in 1900 to Alice Andrews (b. 29 April 1881) who was born near Lymington. Alfred would be absent from the 1901 census when Alice was listed as living at Lower Pennington, Milford, Hampshire, the home address of her parents Charles and Harriett Andrews.

Alfred and Alice went on to have two sons: William (b. 22 July 1902) and Charles (b. 20 December 1904). 

Again absent from the 1911 census, Alfred's wife and sons were listed at Dibden Purlieu, Hythe, Hampshire and Alice was described as a laundry worker, employing her sister Florence.

Cotton was taken onto Titanic as a substitute after several crewmembers reported late for departure. His engagement, alongside that of fellow trimmer Robert Steel, was so hurried that no details of their address or previous ship was recorded. As a trimmer Cotton could expect to earn monthly wages of £5, 10s.

Alfred Cotton died in the sinking and his body, if recovered, was never identified.

Alice Cotton, despite handouts from the Titanic Relief Fund, reportedly struggled to bring up her boys and the eldest, William was sent away to live with relatives. She remained a widow for a decade before remarrying in 1922 to Lewis J. Bishop (b. 6 July 1869), a market gardener. The couple lived for many years at Elton Cottage in the New Forest. She died in Hampshire in 1968.

Alfred's elder son William, having been sent to live with relatives in the wake of his father's death, reportedly became distant from his mother, this being compounded when she remarried and they reportedly were never close again. William later worked as a gardener but in 1924 joined the Royal Navy as, like his late father, a stoker. He went on to serve through the duration of WWII. In 1935 he married Freda Mary Mogg (1904-1989) and had two children. He spent his final days living in Fareham, Hampshire and died there on 11 November 1979. 

Alfred's younger son Charles later worked as a driver and by the 1930s was living in Southampton. In 1944 he married Beatrice May Kelly (1916-2005) and raised a family. Charles died in Southampton in 1962.

 

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Gavin Bell, UK

Link and cite this biography

(2019) Alfred Cotton Encyclopedia Titanica (ref: #1447, updated 13th November 2019 16:57:14 PM)
URL : https://www.encyclopedia-titanica.org/titanic-victim/a-cotton.html