Mr Bernard Hands was born in Killeshandra, Co Cavan, Ireland in 1858 and baptised on 24 October that year.
Hailing from a Roman Catholic family, he was the son of Bernard Hands, a peddler, and Mary Maguire and he reportedly had five sisters.
Bernard later crossed the Irish sea and was married in Walton, Liverpool on 15 May 1888 to Eliza Jemima Halford (b. 1865 in Preston, Lancashire) although the couple are not believed to have had any children.
Bernard and his wife appear on the 1891 census living at 21 Primrose Road, Bootle and he was described as a stoker. The following year he was shown as a fireman aboard Tauric, having served aboard Adriatic prior to that. By 1896 he was a fireman aboard Anselm and later served aboard Germanic and by the close of the year aboard Majestic; his address around that time was 15 Ashcroft Road, Bootle.
Whilst still a resident of 15 Ashcroft Road, Bernard's wife Eliza passed away in March 1899 aged 33 and was buried in St Mary's, Bootle. Bernard never remarried.
In the years after his wife's loss records show that Bernard found himself down on his luck on numerous occasions; described as a ship's fireman, he entered a workhouse in Bromley, Kent on 27 January 1902. By 1911 his situation had not improved and he was shown signing into London workhouses. On 16 January 1911 Hands signed into Greenwich Union Workhouse and was described as a seaman and stoker; he was discharged on 22 February 1911. On 28 May 1911 he was admitted to another workhouse in Stepney.
When he signed on to the Titanic in Southampton on 6 April 1912 Hands gave his local address as St Michael's House, a hostel for homeless men in Southampton. His previous ship had been the Oceanic and as a fireman he could expect monthly wages of £6.
Bernard Hands died in the sinking and his body, if recovered, was never identified.