Encyclopedia Titanica

Arthur White

RMS Titanic Barber

Arthur White
Arthur White

Mr Arthur White was born in Dawson Place, Landport (Portsmouth), Hampshire, England on 11 March 1875.

He was the son of John William White (1843-1929), a painter and decorator, and Sarah Mary Ann Ward (b. 1841). Both his parents were also Portsmouth-natives and they had married in St Marys Church, Portsea on 8 August 1864.

Arthur had six known siblings: Sarah (b. 1865), John (b. 1867), Louisa (b. 1869), Edwin (b. 1873), Emily (b. 1879) and Ada (b. 1881).

When Arthur first appears on the 1881 census he and his family were living at 4 Dawson's Square, Portsea. The 1891 describes Arthur as a barber and still living with his family at 64 Upper Church Park, Portsea.

Arthur was married on 2 October 1895, at St. Marks, North End, Portsea in 1895 to Lydia Emily Cullis (b. 1873 in Landport, Hampshire) and the couple had a total of five children, with one dying in infancy. His surviving children were: Olive Lydia (1896-1923, later Mrs Frederick Coltherup), Violet Florence (1900-1987), Elsie May (b. 1902) and Jesse Arthur (1905-1991).

The 1901 census shows Arthur, described as a hairdresser, living with his family at 116 Blackfriars Road, Southsea. 

A 1912 article stated that White had at one time been a prominent trader in 'soap wrappers' but had lost all of his money and resorted to working for tips as a barber on ocean liners. 

Soap Advert
Evening Star — 25 January 1904
Soap Advert
Portsmouth Evening News — 24 January 1905

Around 1905 White moved to 49 Cleveland Road, Southsea and by the 1911 census he and his family were living at 36 Purbrook Road, Portsmouth. 

When he signed-on to the Titanic, in Southampton, on 6 April 1912, he gave his age as 29, and his address as 36 Purbrook Road1. His previous ship had been the Olympic.

Arthur White died in the sinking; his body was later recovered by the Mackay-Bennett (#247) and was buried at Fairview Cemetery, Halifax, Nova Scotia on 8 May 1912.


CLOTHING - Blue suit; green waterproof; pajamas and cholera belt.

EFFECTS - Key; knife; £2 in gold; 21s. in silver; 14 francs; 22d.


Arthur White's Grave

Titanic Barber, once wealthy, may be lost

Among those reported lost on board the Titanic was an English barber, Arthur White, who was at one time known as "The Soap Wrapper King" in England. Nearly English nearly every English newspaper carried his advertisements for soap wrappers, which commanded a high premium, and he made a fortune in buying them. In an unfortunate investment he lost every cent he owned.

It was then that he went back to his youthful calling. His wife and four children, the eldest 15 years old, live in Portsmouth.

White was well known to all the men of prominence who crossed the ocean on board the white star vessels. The wages of barbers on-board steamships are merely nominal, and they make most of their money on tips. In addition to supporting his family White also has supported his parents, who are 70 years old. — The Courier, 20 April 1912

The following death notice appeared in the Hampshire Telegraph on 3 May 1912:

WHITE--ON April 15th, 1912, Arthur, the beloved husband of Lydia White, of 36 Purbrook Road, who was lost on the ill-fated s.s. Titanic, aged 37.
On 15 April 1913 several memorials appeared in the Portsmouth Evening News:

WHITE--In loving memory of our dear brother, Arthur, who was lost on the ill-fated Titanic, April 15th, 1912. Sadly missed by his brothers and sisters, John, Sarah, Edwin. Safe in God's keeping.

WHITE--In loving memory of our dear son, Arthur, who was lost on the ill-fated Titanic, April 15th, 1912. Never to be forgotten by his father, mother, and sister, Emily, of Fareham. Peace, perfect peace.

WHITE--In loving memory of my dear husband, Arthur, who was lost on the ill-fated Titanic, April 15th, 1912. Sadly missed by his sorrowing wife Lydia. Not gone from memory, not gone from love. But gone to our father's home above.

WHITE--In loving memory of our dear dad, who was lost in the ill-fated Titanic. Sadly missed by his loving children, Olive, Violet, Elsie, and Jesse. Not now, but sometime we'll understand.

His widow Lydia never remarried and remained in Portsmouth for the rest of her life. In 1923 she weathered the loss of her daughter Olive who died following a long illness. Lydia died in 1934.


  1. The address was entered in the agreement as 36 Purwell Road, Portsea.
  2. For some reason, on the articles of agreement, the barbers were included with the galley staff.

Titanic Crew Summary

Name: Mr Arthur White
Age: 37 years 1 month and 4 days*  (Male)
Nationality: English
Marital Status: Married to Lydia Emily Cullis
Last Residence: at 36 Purbrook Road Portsmouth, Hampshire, England
Embarked: Southampton
Died in the Titanic disaster (15th April 1912)
Body recovered by: Mackay-Bennett (No. 247)
Buried: Fairview Lawn Cemetery, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada on Wednesday 8th May 1912

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References and Sources

New York Herald, 18 April 1912 [Photo]
The Courier (Iowa), 20 April 1912, Titanic Barber, once wealthy, may be lost
Hampshire Telegraph, 3 May 1912
Compensation Claim

Newspaper Articles

Cleveland Plain Dealer (19 April 1912) MORGAN'S BARBER LOST
Man Who Always Shaved Financier Was on Titanic

Documents and Certificates

Agreement and Account of Crew, National Archives, London; BT100/259
(1912) Record of Bodies and Effects (Passengers and Crew S.S. "Titanic") Recovered by Cable Steamer "MacKay Bennett" Including Bodies Buried at Sea and Bodies Delivered at Morgue in Halifax, N.S.
(1912) United States Senate, Washington 1912. n° 806, Crew List, Titanic Inquiry Project
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  1. Julie Bravery

    Julie Bravery said:

    Arthur White had 3 daughters and one son called Jessy. Arthur was actually 37 when he died.

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