Mr Francis William Somerton was born in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, England over the summer of 1881.
He was the son of William Henry Somerton (b. 1840 in Marylebone, Middlesex), a gasworks clerk, and Hannah Soanes (b. 1851 in Oxfordshire) who had married in Buckinghamshire in 1875. He had three siblings: Annie Helena (b. 1877), Henrietta Susan (b. 1878) and James Frederick (b. 1885).
In the months prior to Francis' birth his family appeared on the 1881 census living within the Gas Works in Cheltenham. When he finally appears on the 1891 census the family are by now living at Gloucester Road, Cheltenham. Francis was educated at Christ Church schools and afterwards went through a course of training as an engineer at Whitehead's Torpedo School, near Weymouth. He appears on the 1901 census as a boarder at 1 West Bay House, Wyke Regis, Dorset and he is described as an unmarried engineer's fitter.
He emigrated to the USA in 1904 aboard the Oceanic and lived in Canastota, New York and later married a woman named Mae Fryer. He returned to his home town in December 1911, bringing his wife with him. In January 1912 he was one of the guests at Christ Church Old Boys Dinner. For a short time he was working in Rugby, but the works were closed down through the coal strike, so he accepted an offer from the American firm by whom he was formerly employed, and was on his way to take up his duties again in Canastota when he booked passage on the Titanic.
He boarded the ship at Southampton as a third class passenger (ticket number 18509, which cost £8, 1s). He died in the sinking and his body, if recovered, was never identified. His estate, valued at a meagre £5, was administered to his widow Mae on 29 March 1913. His widow Mae possibly remarried within a few years after the loss of her husband but her further whereabouts are unclear.
His father died in 1913 and his mother in 1938. Francis is remembered on their headstone in Holy Trinity Cemetery, Devon:
WILLIAM HENRY SOMERTON
(FORMERLY OF CHELTENHAM)
DIED AUGUST 22 1913
AGED 74 YEARS
SON OF THE ABOVE
IN THE TITANIC DISASTER
APRIL 14 1912 AGED 30 YEARS
WIFE OF WILLIAM HENRY SOMERTON
DIED JANURARY 9 1938
AGED 86 YEARS
Rob Ottmers, USA
References and SourcesCheltenham Echo, April 20th 1912, "Anxiety of Cheltonians"
Cheltenham Echo, April 22nd 1912, "The Missing Cheltonian"