Thomas Henry Jenner 1 was born in Yately, Blackwater, Hampshire 19 August 1856, the son of Thomas Henry Jenner (1825-1889) and Susan Peachey (1826-1887). His father was a police officer originally from Brighton and his mother from Mildenhall, Suffolk and they married in 1853 in Southampton.
On the 1861 census Harry was resident with his family at the Stockbridge, Hampshire Police Station where his father was the local Police Sergeant. He had two siblings: Euphina Jo (born c.1840) and Anne Jane (b. 1854). By the 1871 census as 14-year-old Harry is now living with his parents in High Street, Petersfield, Hampshire where his father has now become an Innkeeper.2
Later, Harry followed in his father's footsteps and became the landlord of the Windmill and Sawyers public house in Unicorn Road, Landport, Portsmouth. While he was landlord there, two tragedies occurred which both involved the local coroner. First his mother died in 1887 (when Harry was 31).
Harry was still the landlord there when his father, who had been out of work for some years, died tragically following an accident putting up the
shutters one evening.
Harry moved from the Windmill and Sawyers soon after his father's death. The 1891 census reveals that a new landlord, Charles Buckland, had moved in with his wife, Elizabeth, and the pub had changed its name to the Unicorn.
Known to his friends as 'Gentleman Jim' (according to family sources), during the 1890s he decided to go to sea. It was probably his future wife Rose's brother, Jim Harley who introduced Harry to the Royal Mail Steam Packet Company who ran mail ships from Southampton around the world. The ship's record of RMS Para in 1896 records his address as Paxton Road, Fareham.
He wrote many letters to his sweetheart, Rose in 1896/7, some from sea, some from Fareham where he boarded with a "Mrs S" who is, in fact his sister, Annie Sylvester. He mentions in his letter dated June 27 1896 that he worked "like a nigger" in Portsmouth and did such a little business. It is not known what business he means. He also mentions going "down to Portsmouth to work" in August 1896.
He may have been motivated to enhance his age downwards for purposes of career progression at sea. He never revealed his true age to either the RMSP Company or to White Star Line.
Harry was a waiter when he started at sea and progressed to head waiter by 1898 on the Para, sailing to Barbados. There is a story that Harry was once demoted for taking the side of a seaman in an argument with an officer - a true Gentleman Jim. Certainly his ship's records show him rising to head waiter in 1898 and later serving as a humble waiter or 3rd waiter on RMS Clyde in 1901.
In 1898 he sails past 'Hayti' (presumably he means Haiti) which is "near Cuba where the War is" (this is the Second Cuban War of Independence) and then visits Jamaica for the first time.
Harry lived at 12, Bellevue Road, Southampton when he married Rose Agnes Harley (b. 1865 in Southampton) on 10 September 1899 after several years' engagement. They went on to have three children: Effie Rose (Ruby) (b. 20 December 1900), Stanley William (b. 7 April 1902) and Norman Harry Harley (b. January 8, 1910).
On the 1901 census he and his wife are listed as living at 13 (?) Bellevue Road, All saints, Southampton with their daughter Effie. Harry is listed as a tobacconist's assistant. In 1907, Kellys shows him living at 3, Bellevue Road.
Ruby Jenner's (Effie Rose) birth certificate records Harry as a tobacconist in December 1900 as does the April 1901 Census. Her Marriage Certificate records him as a purser (marine). He spends some time on dry land after Ruby is born, but is back at sea by August 1901. Stanley's birth certificate confusingly records his father as Harry Thomas Jenner and his occupation as Marine Steward in 1902, by which time he is stewarding on RMS Clyde.
In 1902, Harry writes to Rose as she is moving from Argyle Road to an unnamed address
By the time of the 1911 census Harry and his family are living at 3 Bellevue Road, Southampton he is listed as a steward for the White Star Line.
Harry was on board the Titanic for her delivery trip from Belfast to Southampton. When he signed-on again, in Southampton, on 4 April 1912, he gave his address as 3 Bellevue Road, Southampton. His last ship had been the Olympic. As a second class steward he received monthly wages of £3 15s. He gave his age as 41... he was in fact 55.
Jenner died in the sinking. His body, if recovered, was never identified. There is a family story (apparently based on a survivor's report) that, as
the ship was sinking, Harry had two children in his arms comforting them.
Harry's widow Rose never remarried. She relocated with her children to Brighton, Sussex and she died there in 1940.
Harry's daughter Effie "Ruby" Rose was married in Brighton in 1930 to William Thomas Owen and they had one son, David. She died in Louth, Lincolnshire in 1980. Stanley William Jenner reportedly moved to Canada and married but what became of him thereafter is unknown. Norman Jenner was married in Brighton in 1953 to Dora Perry and they had two children. Norman died in Brighton in 1993.
Malcolm Tebbutt, UK
- He was always known as Harry. Indeed his son, Norman (who was only two when his father died) only ever knew him as Harry.
- In the census record there is also a George Baker ("son in law") living there with his wife Euphina aged 20 and she is recorded as "daughter". Aged 20, she was born before Thomas and Susan were married and is presumably Susan's daughter from her previous marriage
Particulars of Engagement (Belfast), Ulster Folk and Transport Museum (TRANS 2A/45 381)
Articles and Stories
Portsmouth Times & Naval Gazette (1887)
Hampshire Post & Southsea Observer (1889)