Mr Thomas Henry "Harry" Cotterill was born in Aston, Birmingham, Warwickshire, England in early 1891. He was later baptised in Small Heath, All Saints, Birmingham on 18 October that same year.
He was the son of Cornish parents, Thomas Cotterill (b. 1856), a railway engine driver, and Emily Jane Wallis (b. 1857) who had married in Truro in 1885 and was one of four surviving children from a total of ten. His known siblings were: Ethel (1887-1957, later Mrs Joseph Vincent), Minnie (1895-1965, later Mrs George Lambert) and Charles George (1898-1970).
Harry first appears on the 1891 census as a two-month-old infant living with his family at an address in Bordesley, Aston, Warwickshire. Hi family seemingly moved to Warwickshire sometime after 1887 but they would return to their native Cornwall prior to 1895, settling in Penzance. His father died before the turn of the century, passing away in 1898.
When the family next appear on the 1901 census they are living at 26 Adelaide Street, Penzance and his mother is described as a widow living off her own means. Her mother Jane Wallis (b. 1828) and her brother Richard (b. 1863) are also living at the address. Harry later became a carpenter and was described as such on the 1911 census; the family were by then living at the same address.
Harry boarded Titanic at Southampton as a second class passenger (ticket number 29107 which cost £11, 10s). He shared a cabin with his travelling companions and friends Percy Bailey and George Hocking. Their ultimate destination was to have been 457 Rhodes Avenue, Akron, Ohio.
On the night of the sinking Harry and his friends Percy Bailey and George Hocking assisted the latter's family to the lifeboats before standing back themselves. Harry Cotterill died in the sinking and his body, if recovered, was never identified.
A brass plaque in memory of Harry Cotterill and his friend George Hocking was placed in St John's School, St Michaels's Street, Penzance shortly after the tragedy. Following the closure of the school in the late 1950's the plaque was re-sited within the nearby St John the Baptist Church in Trewartha Terrace. The inscription reads:
George Hocking and Harry Cotterill
pupils of this school for 7 years who lost their lives
in the foundering of the 'Titanic'
635 miles from New York on April 14 1912
"Quit ye like men"
His mother Emily continued to live in Penzance for the rest of her life. She died on 6 June 1940. His last surviving sibling was his brother Charles, later a railway worker, who died in Penzance in 1970.