(Daily Sketch 18 April 1912)
Mr Alfred Nichols (boatswain) was born as Albert William Stanley Nichols in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia on 16 July 1864.
He was the son of Thomas George Charles Nichols, a mariner and his wife Mary and he grew up on Lord Howe Island. He reportedly left home at an early age and went to sea.
When Alfred, nicknamed "Big Neck," arrived in Britain is not certain. He was married in St Cyprian's Church, Edge Hill, West Derby, Lancashire on 2 April 1893 to Jane Porter (b. 7 September 1870, daughter of George and Robina Porter), a native of Mauchline, Ayrshire, Scotland. At the time the couple were resident of 46 Verdi Street, Seaforth, Lancashire and Alfred described himself as a seaman. The couple went on to have three children: Grace (b. 1897), Thomas Alfred (1899-1975) and Jane "Jean" Agnes (1903-1991).
Alfred would be absent at the time of the 1901 census, likely at sea, but his wife and first two children are listed as living at 66 Chelsea Road, Litherland, Lancashire. The family moved southward to Southampton, possibly around 1907 to correspond with the shift of the White Star Line's main terminal to that city from Liverpool and sometime around 1908 Nichols joined the Royal Naval Reserve Force. He and his family appear on the 1911 census living at 37 Oakley Road, Shirley and Alfred is described as a mariner.
Alfred was on board the Titanic for her delivery trip from Belfast to Southampton. When he signed-on again, in Southampton, on 6 April 1912, he gave his address as St. Cloud, Oak Tree Road, (Southampton). His last ship had been the Olympic and as Boatswain he received monthly wages of £8, 10s.
Lamp trimmer Samuel Hemming reported that after the collision Nichols told his crew to "turn out" and that the ship had half-an-hour to live as per the advice of Thomas Andrews but not to tell anyone and keep it to themselves.
Boatswain's mate Albert Haines testified that Nichols' assigned boat was number 7. He stated that as the aft starboard boats were being swung out the forward boats were being filled. Nichols' missed joining his assigned boat, the first to be lowered, whilst Haines only just managed to join his (number 9) before it was launched.
Nichols later led a team of six seamen to open some of the lower gangway doors to load lifeboats; since he and the seamen were never seen again what became of them remains a mystery.
Nichols' body, if recovered, was never identified. The following death notice appeared in an unidentified newspaper:
NICHOLS--April 15th, 1912, on the s.s. Titanic, Alfred Nichols, the deeply beloved husband of Jane Porter, Mauchline, Ayrshire, Scotland. Deeply mourned by his sorrowing wife and children. Gone but a little time before us. Scotch (sic) and Australian papers please copy.
Alfred's widow and children were assisted financially by the Titanic Relief Fund. What became of Jane Nichols is not certain.