Mr Henry Forbes Julian was born on 9 May 1861 in the city of Cork, Co Cork, Ireland, the son of Henry Julian (coach builder) and his wife Marie. He was the brother of Lily, Charles and Annie. He was first educated at Cork and then when aged about 13 his family moved to live in Bolton, Lancashire where his education continued. The family are shown in the 1881 census at 8 Back of the Bank, Little Bolton. He continued his education studying chemistry at Owens College, Manchester as a pupil of Sir Henry Roscoe and later at South Kensington, London.
In October 1886 he travelled to Natal, South Africa where he obtained employment as a metalurgist and analyst. He progressed to become a consulting engineer and mine manager in the gold mine districts of Natal, Barberton, Johnnesburg and Kimberley. He was to remain in South Africa for seven years during which time he invented and patented the Patent Electrical Chemical Gold and Silver Extracting Apparatus. To market this device Henry set up a limited company of which he was the managing director and major shareholder.
In 1893 Henry moved to live in Germany where he worked as technical adviser on mining and metalurgy to the Deutsche Gold and Silver Scheide Anstalt in Frankfurt. He also co-wrote 'Cyaniding Gold and Silver Ores' at this time. His work ensured that he was well travelled, he had crossed the Atlantic no less than 13 times. Amongst his destinations were Mexico, Canada, USA and the West Indies. He had also extensively toured Eastern Europe.
In 1895 Henry moved to live in South Devon. He rented Ness House at Shaldon, located at the mouth of the River Teign with extensive views of the sea and the town of Teignmouth. He also kept a residence in London and was a founder member of the Royal Automobile Club and a member of the committee of the British Association. Also at this time he joined the committee of the Torquay Natural History Society and became an active member of the Devonshire Association, both of which had been founded by his future father-in-law William Pengelly FRS FGS, the eminent geologist of Torquay. Hester Pengelly, William's daughter was also a member and it was only a matter of time before wedding plans were announced.
Henry married Hester on 30 October 1902 at St Mary Magdalene Church, Upton, Torquay. The service was taken by Rev. Chancellor Edmonds DD assisted by Rev. C C Tucker MA. They made their home in Torquay and lived at 'Redholme' in Braddons Hill Road East. With business commitments looming Henry had to attend a business meeting in San Francisco and for his journey he was booked to travel on the Olympic leaving Southampton on 3 April 1912. However, because of the disruptions caused by the national coal strike his trip was re-scheduled for 10 April on Titanic. On the Easter Saturday prior to his departure his sister-in-law, Mrs Lydia Maxwell asked him if he would prefer the new vessel. 'Not in the least' he replied. 'I do not care at all for palm-court and gymnasium and such extra attractions, and never visited them on Mauretania. I shall keep to the smoking-room and library, and only just look over the vessel before starting.'
On 9 April he travelled to Southampton by train arriving there at 8.25pm, having left Torquay at 1.35pm. He spent the night at the South Western Hotel from where he wrote a letter to his wife who was to have accompanied him on the journey but had remained at home with a bout of influenza. The letter mainly described his train journey via Newton Abbot, Exeter and Salisbury, but he also said that the weather was very cold with a strong wind and that it had been a wise decision for his wife to remain at home in Torquay.
In the morning of 10 April he embarked Titanic after a 10 minute walk from the hotel. He made his way to E Deck and his cabin (E-90) located toward the stern of the ship on the starboard side. He was travelling in first class, his ticket was numbered 110344 and had cost £26.
In a further letter to his wife dated 10 April he mentioned that his accomodation was 'more like a small bedroom than a ship's cabin.' During the crossing to Cherbourg he explored the ship and in a letter to his wife which left the ship at Cherbourg he particularly mentioned the Parisian Cafe and gymnasium which he said was 'full of the most wonderful machines.' Shortly before Queenstown he wrote again to his wife saying that he was most comfortable and had slept well, the ship being so steady. He also commented that more than half the officers and stewards were familiar faces to him, he having previously made their acquaintance on Adriatic and Oceanic. This letter, dated 11 April, was the last to be received by his wife. He had also mentioned that he had met his old friend Col. John Weir on board.
Three days later Titanic foundered and Henry was lost, aged 51. His body was not amongst those subsequently recovered from the sea.
Two memorials to Henry are located in Torquay. The first is a fine Caen stone memorial with red marble panels located in the south aisle of the church in which he was married, St Mary Magdalene, Upton, Torquay, the full inscription reads:
Most of the leading residents of Torquay had subscribed to the memorial which had cost £87. The memorial was unveiled in the presence of a large congregation of friends on 24 February 1914. One of the three hymns sung was 'Nearer, my God, to Thee'. In the same year Henry's wife Hester published 'Memorials of Henry Forbes Julian'. The latter part of this work gives some detail of the letters written from Titanic along with recollections of surviving friends of Henry who had also been on board.
Hester Julian remained in Torquay until her death in 1934. She was buried alongside her parents, William and Lydia Pengelly in the Torquay cemetery in Hele Road. The gravestone inscription reads: