Mr Edwin Charles Wheeler

Mr Edwin Charles Wheeler was born in Bath, Somerset, England on 19 February 1886.

He was the son of William Frederick Wheeler (b. 1858), a tailor, and Emma Rowlands (b. 1853), both natives of Bath who had married in 1879. He had four known siblings: Frederica (1881-1882), Ida Egeria Winifred (1882-1883), Maud Lilian (b. 1888) and Elsie (1891-1895).

The family appear on the 1891 census living at 1 Peter Street, Walcot, Bath. His father died in 1892 but what became of his mother is not clear and she perhaps died around the same time. Edwin and his siblings are believed to have spent a portion of their childhood in a poorhouse and his younger sibling Elsie died during this period.

The 1901 census shows a 15-year-old Edwin now working as an errand boy for a wealthy family living at Highbury House, Bath whilst his sister Maud went to live with an aunt and uncle in the same town. Edwin's movements over the next decade are not clear but he was shown on Ellis Island records arriving in New York on 6 April 1911 aboard the Majestic. He was unmarried.

In New York Wheeler came into the employment as a footman to the prominent businessman and art collector George Washington Vanderbilt (1862-1914), owner of the largest home in the USA, Biltmore House in Asheville, North Carolina.

The Vanderbilts, along with their employee Wheeler wound up back in Europe in early 1912 and had made plans to return to the USA aboard Titanic on her maiden voyage. The New York Tribune (30 April 1912) reported that Mrs Vanderbilt's mother, Mrs Dresser, upon learning of their plans was insistent that they cancel their voyage as travelling on a maiden voyage was hazardous. Mr and Mrs Vanderbilt complied with Mrs Dresser's wishes and switched their passage to Olympic , which would leave earlier and arrive in New York on 10 April. That same day Edwin boarded the Titanic in Southampton, travelling on second class ticket number 2159 which cost £12, 17s, 16d and his main purpose was to chaperone the luggage of the Vanderbilts across the Atlantic.

Edwin Wheeler died in the sinking and his body, if recovered, was never identified.


See Eric Sauder & Brian Hawley (2014) A Tiitanic Mystery Luxury Liner Row for the latest research on Wheeler.

Articles and Stories

Voyage (2008) 
New York Tribune (1912) 

Comment and discuss

  1. tina (1908) said:

    according to the vanderbilts, the reason they changed boats was because friends and family were on the Olympic and asked them to make the journey with them. I learned this at a tour of Biltmore house in Asheville,nc

  2. Jimmy saville said:

    My homework is to study him!

Leave a comment


Gavin Bell, UK
Karen Kamuda, USA
Don Lynch, USA
Sue Clark, USA (Research Assistant, Biltmore House, Asheville, NC)
Steve Coombes, UK
Larry Manofsky, USA

References and Sources

Contract Ticket List, White Star Line 1912 (National Archives, New York; NRAN-21-SDNYCIVCAS-55[279]).
New York Times, 30 April 1912
Search archive British newspapers online

Link and cite this biography

Encyclopedia Titanica (2017) Edwin Charles Wheeler (ref: #604, last updated: 25th May 2017, accessed 5th June 2020 05:07:38 AM)