Bernard John Boughton was born in Brockley, Kent, England on 7 October 1887.1
He was the son of William John Boughton (b. 1861) and Emma Louisa Burbridge (b. 1862). His parents hailed from Tottington, London and Headcorn, Kent respectively and had married in Camberwell in 1885.
He had two siblings: Arthur William (b. 9 May 1886) and Dorothy Martha2 (b. 8 November 1888).
Bernard first appears on the 1891 census at 312 Brockley Road, St Mary, Lewisham, London and his father was described as a Coffee Refreshment House Keeper. The family were living at 459 New Road, Lewisham when Bernard was enrolled into Stanley Street School on 25 February 1895.
The family had moved to 12 Hardinge Road in Ashford, Kent by the time of the 1901 census; several years later Bernard was baptised in Christ Church, Folkestone, Kent on 17 March 1907. With the family still living at 12 Hardinge Road by the time of the 1911 census, Bernard was not listed as being there, presumably at sea at the time.
After leaving school Boughton’s mother had him apprenticed to a grocer and he spent two years with J. F. Harvey of High Street, Ashford, after which he moved to Hastings and worked in a shop owned by a Mr Savage. He subsequently worked for a Mr Packham of Ospringe and afterwards took employment with a wealthy family in Folkestone. His wanderlust got the better of him and he obtained employment in the Royal Mail Steam Packet Line; it was reported that on one voyage to New York via the Caribbean, his ship ran aground and eventually broke up3 but he escaped from that calamity. In 1911 he was aboard Olympic at the time of the collision with HMS Hawke.
Bernard, who was unmarried, signed-on to the Titanic on 4 April 1912 and gave his address as 10 Richmond Street, Southampton. His previous ship had been the Olympic and as a first-class steward he received monthly wages of £3, 15s. Shortly before joining the ship, Boughton fell ill and there was doubt he would be well enough to travel. He was pleased when his condition improved and he was able to make the Titanic’s maiden voyage.
Bernard Boughton died in the sinking and his body, if recovered, was never identified.
In September of that year, it was reported that his mother had refused a compensation offer from the owners of the White Star Line.
Mrs Emma Louise Bolton, of 12, Hardinge-road, Ashford, declined to accept £100 compensation awarded by the Oceanic Steam Navigation Company Limited in respect to the loss of her son, Bernard John Boughton, formally residing at 10, Richmond-road, Southampton who was drowned while serving as an assistant steward on the SS Titanic. Mrs Boughton said her son always paid her £3 a month, and His Honour declined to record the amount. — Kentish Express, 14 September 1914,
His family continued to reside in the Kent area; in 1914 his brother married Edith Jewell and the following year, on 11 April 1915, they welcomed a son, naming him Bernard William.
With Bernard's loss on Titanic, the next few years also threw other hardships at the family. Bernard's mother died, still at her 12 Hardinge Road address, on 28 December 1916. Arthur, his brother, later went to serve his country during the European conflict and died on the battlefields on 31 March 1918, leaving behind his young widow and son.
Bernard's father worked well into his advanced years and by 1939 was living in Hampstead, London and working as a porter, aged in his late 70s. He died in 1946.