Mr Edward Austin Kent

Edward Austin Kent

Mr Edward Austin Kent was born in Bangor, Penobscot , Maine on 19 February 1854.

He was the son of Henry Mellen Kent (1823-1894), a dry goods merchant, and Harriet Ann Farnham (1830-1908), natives of Merrimack, New Hampshire and Kennebec, Maine respectively who had married around 1850. He was the brother of: Ellen M. (1852-1904), Charles J. (b. 1855), William W. (b. 1859), Charlotte M. (b. 1863), Nora B. (b. 1867).

He first appears on the 1860 census living in Bangor and he and his family later moved to New York around 1865, showing up on the 1870 and 1880 censuses living in Buffalo, Erie County where his father was a partner in Flint & Kent, a large department store.

A graduate of Yale and also educated at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris, Edward became an architect and later a junior partner in the Syracuse, New York firm of Sillsbee and Kent before returning to Buffalo where he was involved in the founding of the Buffalo Society of Architects. A bachelor and distinguished architect in his city, he had offices at Ellicott Square and resided at the Buffalo Club. He was responsible for the design of many buildings in Buffalo and also further afield, having designed the Board of Trade building in Toronto, Ontario and in 1897 designed the new building for Flint & Kent when that store moved to 554 Main Street. His brother William was also an architect working out of Manhattan.

A frequent traveller across the Atlantic, Kent had just spent two months in Europe when he boarded the Titanic at Cherbourg as a first class passenger (ticket number 11771 which cost £29, 14s). He occupied cabin B-37. Whilst aboard he was acquainted with a group of other first class passengers which fellow member Archibald Gracie termed "Our coterie." The group included Helen Churchill Candee, Edward Pomeroy Colley, Hugh Woolner, James Clinch Smith and Mauritz Håkan Björnström-Steffansson.

On the night of 14 April, just after the collision, Mrs Candee was running upstairs to the boat deck when she ran into Kent who was dashing topside as well. She persuaded him to keep an ivory and gold miniature of her mother. He didn't believe he would survive, but he slipped it in his pocket in any case. Later, as Archibald Gracie was looking for Candee, Kent told him "She is safe and in a boat, Mr Gracie." Kent had escorted Candee into Lifeboat 6 with the help of Woolner and Björnström-Steffansson.

At 2:20am, Kent made no struggle to jump as the seas closed over him. He was lost and his body was later found by the crew of the MacKay Bennett (#258). The miniature was still in his pocket, and it was eventually returned to Mrs Candee.

NO. 258 - MALE. - ESTIMATED AGE, 56. - HAIR FAIR; GREY MOUSTACHE

CLOTHING - Grey coat; dress suit pants.

EFFECTS - Silver flask; two gold signet rings; gold watch; gold eye glasses; gold frame miniature of "Mary Churchill Hungerford"; knife; a pocket books; 48 francs, 75; 2 studs, one link.

NAME - EDWARD A. KENT

On 1 May 1912 the body was delivered to H. K. White of Boston for transportation back to Buffalo.

There is also a memorial plaque to Mr Kent inside the first Unitarian Church, Buffalo.


The grave of Edward Austin Kent at Forest Lawn Cemetery, Buffalo
(Courtesy of Katie Rosen, USA)

 

Pictures

Edward A. Kent
EDWARD A. KENT
Memorial Plaque (2)
Edward Austin Kent
EDWARD AUSTIN KENT
 

Articles and Stories

New York Times (1912) 
New York Herald (1912) 
New York Times (1912) 
New York Times (1912) 
 

Comment and discuss

  1. Bill Parke said:

    Hi Everyone, Edward Austin Kent was a first class passenger from Buffalo, NY who perished on the Titanic. He was also, with his brother William, the architect of the First Unitarian Church of Buffalo, now called the Unitarian Universalist Church of Buffalo. By all accounts, Kent spent his last hours on the Titanic bravely, even heroically, assisting women and children into lifeboats and repeatedly going below to bring supplies up to the boat deck for the departing passengers. In honor of the 150th Anniversary of his birth on February 19, 2004, I'd like to share with the ET Message... Read full post

  2. Michael Cundiff said:

    That was very kind of you Sir...sharing those web-links with us. And this is exactly what makes this site such an invaluable one! Michael A. Cundiff USA

  3. Randy Bryan Bigham said:

    Mr. Page: I also want to thank you for that. And what Michael says about ET is too true. You are likely aware of Edward Kent's shipboard friendship with the decorator and writer, Helen Churchill Candee. He was one of the batch of decent fellows who elected to keep her company on the voyage - along with Bjornstrom Steffanson, Archibald Gracie and others. Candee wrote a beautiful (and absolutely haunting) account of her Titanic experiences for the popular weekly, Collier's, in May 1912. She refers anonymously throughout to her fellow passengers, most of whom are now easy to identify. I am... Read full post

  4. Bill Parke said:

    Michael - It is my pleasure to share the information about Mr. Kent. Thank you for your interest. Randy - What an interesting article the Colliers one is. I'm going to try to get a copy from interlibrary loan. Because (according to my research) Mrs. Candee had been entrusted to Kent's care during the journey, I am sure there are more references to him in it, and since I know little about his demeanor or personality, I am very interested in the article. If you have a copy and wish to share it, you could send it to: Bill Parke, Church Historian Unitarian Universalist Church of Buffalo... Read full post

  5. Randy Bryan Bigham said:

    Bill: I will send you a copy ASAP. It was originally my thought that the "He of the Two" to whom Helen Candee refers so discreetly (and romantically) in this article was Kent rather than Woolner but others have told me it was the younger man (Woolner) who was more ardent in his attentions to her. I would like to know more details of this myself. Ben Holme are you out there? Randy

  6. Ben Holme said:

    Hi Randy, Only just noticed this one! You are quite correct to say that "he of the two" referred to Woolner, rather than Kent. Walter Lord, who carried out the initial, and most memorable research into Helen Candee and her "Coterie" was adament that it was Woolner who was vying for her attentions most. In "The Night Lives On", Lord made specific reference to an incident where Woolner affectionately caressed Mrs. Candee's hand, she having just handled a lump of ice from the berg. This incident is referred to in the Colliers acount. Having corresponded with Bill, and seen some of the... Read full post

Leave a comment

Credits

Gavin Bell, UK
Katie Rosen, USA
Hermann Söldner, Germany
Craig Stringer, UK
Geoff Whitfield, UK

References and Sources

Contract Ticket List, White Star Line 1912 (National Archives, New York; NRAN-21-SDNYCIVCAS-55[279])
Marriages, births, deaths and injuries that have occurred on board during the voyage (PRO London, BT 100/259-260)
Record of Bodies and Effects: Passengers and Crew, S.S. Titanic (Public Archives of Nova Scotia)
Brian Ticehurst (1996) Titanic''s Memorials World wide: Where they are Located. ISBN 1 871733 05 7
Walter Lord (1986) The Night Lives On: Thoughts, Theories and Revelations about the Titanic. London, Penguin. ISBN 0 140 27900 8
Search archive British and Irish newspapers online

Link and cite this biography

Encyclopedia Titanica (2017) Edward Austin Kent (ref: #175, last updated: 21st August 2017, accessed 6th April 2020 02:19:26 AM)
URL : https://www.encyclopedia-titanica.org/titanic-victim/edward-austin-kent.html