Encyclopedia Titanica

George Frederick Sweet

Mr George Frederick Sweet was born in Castle Cary, Somerset, England on 16 April 1897.

He was the son of Joseph Sweet (b. 1860), a flax worker, and Anne Chamberlain (b. 1862), both natives of Castle Cary who had married in 1880 and who went on to have ten children, losing one child in their youth.

George's siblings were: Alfred (b. 1880), William Henry (b. 1884), Herbert (b. 1887), Emily (1890-1898), Elsie (b. 1892), Beatrice Eliza (1894-1982, later Mrs Frank Mead), Frank (1900-1962), Emily Agnes (1902-1934) and Alexander Joseph (1905-1987).

George appears on the 1901 census living with his family at 1 Mill Lane in Castle Cary and on the 1911 census at Tor Bay, also in Castle Cary and he was described as a twine factory hand. Young George soon became employed by Samuel Herman, a farmer and proprietor of the Britannia Hotel in Castle Cary. He became part of Samuel's family, consisting of his wife Jane and twin daughters Alice and Kate.

George Sweet with the Herman Family

The Herman family with George Sweet
(Muriel Cleland Harris / Michael Findlay Collection)

Although a financially comfortable family, the past year had seen a slump in fortunes for the Hermans and it was decided that they would emigrate. Originally booked aboard a different ship, they cancelled their voyage to allow more time to prepare. Mr Herman, his wife and daughters and George Sweet boarded the Titanic at Southampton as second class passengers (ticket number 220845 which cost £65) and were bound for Samuel's brother-in-law Arthur Laver who was living in Bernardsville, New Jersey where he worked as a steward of the Somerset Hill Country Club.

On the night of the sinking young George, alongside Samuel Herman, saw Mrs Herman and her daughters off in one of the lifeboats. George, although not quite 15-years-old, was probably deterred from entering a lifeboat despite his young age and he and Samuel Herman died together, George being just one day short of his 15th birthday. Their bodies, if recovered, were never identified.

Following George's loss, his father died in 1925 but what became of his mother is not certain. His last known surviving sibling, Alec, died in Yeovil, Somerset in 1987.

Newspaper Articles

Newark Evening News (20 April 1912) SAY LIFEBOAT COULD HAVE HELD TEN MORE
Bernardsville News (26 April 1912) SURVIVORS OF THE GREAT DISASTER
New York Times (16 January 1937) MRS. JANE L. HERMAN
Search archive online

Comment and discuss

  1. Mark Baber

    George Sweet was a fifteen year old boy travelling to Bernardsville, New Jersey, with the Herman Family. His ET biography describes Samuel Herman's as his "adoptive father", which is consistent with the wording of the biographies of Jane Herman (Samuel's wife) and Kate and Alice Herman (Samuel and Jane's twin daughters), all of which say that George was Mr. Herman's adopted son. Samuel's biography, though, says that "(t)ravelling with the family was George Sweet, their adopted son." On the other hand, the Newark Evening News of 20 April 1912, reporting an interview with Mrs. Herman after... Read full post

  2. Michael Findlay

    Dear Mark, I know Alice Herman Cleland's daughter, Muriel Harris, and Mrs. Harris has confirmed that George Sweet was the adopted son of her grandparents. George was 15-years-old at the time, and worked with Samuel Herman in the family owned hotel business. The Hermans had no sons of their own so they adopted young George. The Herman family has photos of young George throughout his life. We don't know just "when" the boy became a part of the Herman family but in the family album, George is seen in the family as early as 8 or 9 years of age. Hope this helps. Mike Findlay

  3. Kyrila Scully

    Mike Findlay, I've been trying to e-mail you at the address you gave me regarding my book. Could you write to me privately as I would like to talk to you by phone about some things pertaining to copyright. Kyrila

  4. Mark Baber

    Thanks for the info, Mike. His being with the family for that long makes it all the more curious that the News article says they didn't know his first name, doesn't it? MAB

  5. Mark Baber

    I've obtained a copy of a very short article that appeared in the Bernardsville News on 26 April 1912. It reports on an interview with Mrs. Herman, and describes George Sweet only as " lad of fifteen who had come with them from England..." His name is not mentioned. Again, this is kind of an odd description of an "adopted son", no? Anyone have any insight into whether (and if so, why) Mrs. Herman might have been deliberately downplaying George's relationship to the family?

  6. Mike Herbold

    Mark: A thought on the previous thread and your concern that the newspaper article said the family did not know Sweet's first name. My immediate reaction was that the journalist who wrote the article was the culprit and not Mrs. Herman. Perhaps he had failed to ask them, and then covered his own carelessness by casually blaming the family, or making it seem like a casual relationship.

  7. Michael Findlay

    Hi Mark, I hope I can be of some help here. As I mentioned in my previous posts in the earlier thread, Alice Herman Cleland's daughter told me that George Sweet was a member of their family. There are pictures of young George at various family functions with the Hermans and there is even a photo of Jane Herman and George Sweet taken together in England around 1910. I think the newspaper reporter, as Mike pointed out, carelessly reported the relationship. Until recently, George's age was speculative. Descendants of the Herman family always thought he was around 16 or 17 years of... Read full post

Reply Watch Thread

Titanic Passenger Summary

Name: Mr George Frederick Sweet
Age: 14 years 11 months and 29 days (Male)
Nationality: English
Last Residence: in Yeovil, Somerset, England
Occupation: Farm Labourer
Embarked: Southampton on Wednesday 10th April 1912
Ticket No. 220845, £65
Died in the Titanic disaster (15th April 1912)
Body Not Identified

Linked Biographies

Page Options

Watch this page

Improve this Biography

If you have any corrections or something to add please  get in touch