Encyclopedia Titanica

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.

Comment and discuss

  1. Dave Cotton

    Alfred Cotton was my paternal Grandfather. I have been trying to find out information about him. At the time of his death he had two children, my father;William and his brother Charles. After Alfred's death his wife could not keep two children at home and my father was sent to live with relatives, she remarried and sadly, he and his mother were never close again. My father did not wish to discuss his father with me.The 1901 population census indicates that Alfred was born in 1861 at (T)Sitchfield Common in the civil parish of St.Mary's near Southampton. This census shows his profession as... Read full post

  2. lydia cotton

    i can't believe that Alfred cotton is one of my relatives and he worked on the titanic it's so cool!

  3. lydia cotton

    I'm related to him to

  4. Guy Cotton SPRL

    My father told me about a great-uncle present on the ship. Exist it in Belgium any extension of the family of Mr Alfred Cotton ?

  5. Walter R Cotton

    I just visited the Titanic Museum and saw Alford Cotton's name and that he was from England. My father had told me my family was from England long ago. Do you know of any Cottons that may have moved to America? My great-grandfather was a doctor that settled in Mississippi. I live in Louisiana now.

  6. Fifi

    Alfred Cotton is my Great-grandfather. My dad John Alfred Cotton is one of the sons of Charles Cotton who married Beatrice May Kelly. The two other Sons (my uncles) are James Charles Cotton and Albert Cotton. John & James both live in Totton Hampshire and Albert is in the Southampton area.

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Titanic Crew Summary

Name: Mr Alfred Cotton
Age: 35 years 10 months (Male)
Nationality: English
Marital Status: Married to Alice Andrews
Occupation: Trimmer
Embarked: Southampton
Died in the Titanic disaster (15th April 1912)
Body Not Recovered

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