Mr Alexander Mellis Thompson

Mr Alexander Mellis Thompson was born at 14 South Mount Street in Aberdeen1, Scotland on 19 October 1875.

He was the son of Adam Howie Thompson (b. 1847 in Ordiquhill, Banffshire), a stonemason, and Isabella Mellis (1850-1921, of Cairney, Aberdeenshire) who had married on 31 December 1874 in Cairney. He had two known siblings: Edwin (b. 1885) and Adam Howie (b. 1892). The family later ran the Seaview Hotel in Peterhead, Aberdeenshire.

Alexander first appears on the 1881 census as a visitor to the home of his widowed maternal grandfather Alexander Mellis (b. 1820), a crofter of five acres, in Ruthven, Cairney. His father was listed elsewhere as a boarder at 53 Green Street in Aberdeen. The family were living in Boddam, Peterhead, Aberdeenshire by the time of the 1891 census. Alexander would be absent from the family home at the time of the 1901 census, then the Seaview Hotel and he was listed elsewhere as a boarder at 2 Waters Close, Leith, Midlothian and was described as an unmarried mason.

He was married in Boddam in 1902 to Isabella Dalgarno May (b. 13 June 1881 in Peterhead) and they later moved to Woodstock in Cape Town, South Africa. Their first child, daughter Isabella (b. 1905) was born there in 1905. They resettled in Boddam shortly after and had two sons, George Alexander (1907-1979) and Adam (b. 1911). 

The family appear on the 1911 census living at 4 Stirling Village, Boddam, Peterhead; their next door neighbours were his wife's widowed mother and her daughters. Thompson was described as a monumental stonemason and he worked as a stone polisher in Boddam Granite Polishing Works. Having had previous experience of working in South Africa and, reportedly America, Thompson and his family made plans to settle in Barre, Vermont and he was travel ahead first where it appears he had secured similar work, to be joined by his wife and children at a later date. 

Thompson, who had just been admitted as a Freemason, was originally supposed to have travelled aboard Cymric, but the cancellation of that ship's crossing due to the coal strikes altered his plans. He boarded the Titanic at Southampton as a third class passenger (ticket number 32302 which cost £8, 1s) and was destined for Barre, Vermont. Whilst aboard he sent a postcard to his wife which was posted in Queenstown on 11 April 1912:

Dear Lib.

Getting on all right, after leaving Sthampton (sic) we sent to Cherbourg France and we are nearing Queenstown. It is very comfortable here and as steady as a rock, but the feather beds are a bit hard.

Kindest love to all,


Alexander Thompson lost his life in the disaster and his body, if recovered, was never identified.

Amongst the passengers on board the Titanic was Alexander Thomson (sic), belonging to Boddam, a son of Mrs Thomson, of the Seaview Hotel there. Mr Thomson was a young married man, engaged as a stone polisher in the Boddam Granite Polishing Works, and was on his way to Barre, Vermont, to enter on the same occupation. He had experience of previous work in America and also in Africa, and was known as a deft and artistic workman in lettering and designing. His mother, his wife, and his three children are resident in Boddam, and much concern is being expressed. Mr Thomson was made a Freemason just before sailing...
(Buchan Observer and East Aberdeen Advertiser, 23 April 1912)

His widow Isabella did not remarry and later died in Aberdeen in 1956. His brother Adam later served with the Gordon Highlanders during WWI and was in training with the RAF when he was killed in a plane crash on 7 September 1918 aged 26.

The postcard Thompson had sent to his wife was discovered years later by family and auctioned by Sotheby's in 2002 for in excess of £7000.


  1. All census records indicate that he had been born in Peterhead, Aberdeenshire states his actual birthplace as the city of Aberdeen. 

Comment and discuss

  1. sherry (2070) said:

    Alexander Morrison Thompson from Scotland.....wonder if I'm any relation to him. Anyone out there know this mans roots? He did not survive titanic wreck. We Thompsons do not have the best of luck. Just curious. Thank you in advance for any further information.

  2. Zonko said:

    I know he was a mason in the building of Fettes College!

  3. avatar

    JillCarlier7 said:

    He would have been 39 in 1912, not 36

  4. Gavin Bell said:

    on what authority do you make this comment, Jill?

Leave a comment


Gavin Bell, UK
Hermann Söldner, Germany

References and Sources

The Scotsman, 17 April 1912, Aberdeen Granite Polisher Among the Passengers
Buchan Observer and East Aberdeen Advertiser, 23 April 1912, A Boddam passenger
Aberdeen Press and Journal, 17 April 1912, A Boddam passenger
Search archive British newspapers online

Link and cite this biography

Encyclopedia Titanica (2018) Alexander Mellis Thompson (ref: #1258, last updated: 15th March 2018, accessed 4th July 2020 20:53:04 PM)