Encyclopedia Titanica

Hugh Calderwood

Mr Hugh Calderwood is believed to have been born in Belfast, Ireland around 1879 but his birth, like that of some of his known siblings, was apparently never registered.

Coming from a Presbyterian family, he was the son of John Calderwood and Matilda Smyth (b. circa 1854 in Co Antrim); there is no identifiable record for their marriage. Little is known of his father but he is on record for holding a variety of professions, including general labourer, farmer and fireman.
Hugh had three known siblings: William Henry Calderwood (b. circa 1874), Lizzie1 and Smyth (b. 29 July 1884) and possibly another sister, Ellen (b. circa 1881)2.

At the time at the time of his brother Smyth's birth in 1884 he was a resident of 10 Hope Street, Belfast and records then show that his mother was illiterate. 

What became of his father is not known and Hugh's widowed mother, a linen spinner, and unmarried brother Smyth, a general labourer, appear on the 1901 Irish census living at 7 Reid's Place in Woodvale, Belfast. By the time of the 1911 census his mother is listed alone at 6 Cargill Court in the Smithfield area of Belfast, his brother Smyth having passed away aged nineteen years on 22 May 1904.

Hugh initially pursued a career as a carpenter and appears to have lived in Rasharkin, Co Antrim for a time; he was married there on 27 October 1899 to Isabella McDowell (b. 15 June 1881) who hailed from a Church of Ireland family from Ballymena, Co Antrim. They had three children: John (b. 6 June 1901), Sarah Ann (b. 23 May 1903) and Martha McCormick (b. 15 September 1905).

Hugh and Isabella appear together on the 1901 census at the home of her family, her parents being James and Sarah McDowell, at house 51 in Dunminning, Co Antrim. By the time of the 1911 census however the couple were apparently estranged and living apart: Isabella was still living with her parents and three children at house 44 in Dunminning and described herself as a widow whilst Hugh was listed in Belfast, described as an unmarried fitter's helper and living with his widowed "sister" Ellen McMahon and her daughter Mary (b. 1903) at 17 Jersey Street near Shankill Road.

Hugh was aboard Titanic for the delivery trip from Belfast to Southampton. When he signed on for the maiden voyage in Southampton on 6 April 1912 he gave his local address as the Seaman's Home in that city. The Titanic was his first ship and as a trimmer he could expect monthly wages of £5, 10s. 
Hugh Calderwood died in the sinking and his body, if recovered, was never identified. 

Calderwood, Applicant; Ismay, Imrie & Co., Limited, Respondents

Matilda Calderwood brought a request for arbitration and apportionment, and the respondents were Messrs Ismay, Imrie & Co., Limited.

Mr Campbell (instructed by Messrs Donnelly & Co), who represented the applicant, said it was another Titanic case. The deceased man had been a trimmer, and was his mother's only support.

His Honour asked if all had been served with notice of these proceedings who might likely be dependents. 

Mr Campbell said the only dependent was the applicant.

His Honour said he would let the case stand until other relatives had been served with notice. He did not want to run the risk of some of them turning up subsequently. - Northern Whig, 22 June 1912

At the Belfast Recorder's Court, before his Honour, Judge J. Walker Craig

... Matilda Calderwood, 6 Cargill Street, was also the applicant in a request for arbitration and appointment. She was the mother of Hugh Calderwood, who was employed as a trimmer on the Titanic at the time of the disaster. A sum of £222, 4s had been lodged in court by Messrs Ismay & Co, Ltd, and this sum had been accepted.
The matter was allowed to stand over for formal evidence... - Larne Times, 29 June 1912

Matilda Calderwood died from pneumonia in a Belfast infirmary on 29 June 1913; she was buried in Belfast's City Cemetery. Hugh's daughter Sarah Ann never married and died on 17 October 1946.


  1. Lizzie Calderwood and William Calderwood are listed as witnesses at the time of his marriage. 
  2. The identity of Ellen McMahon is not certain; she appears with Hugh on the 1911 census, described as his widowed sister; she listed her birthplace as Co Donegal. 

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Titanic Crew Summary

Name: Mr Hugh Calderwood
Born: circa.1879 in Belfast, Ireland
Age: 33 years (Male)
Nationality: Irish
Marital Status: Single
Last Residence: at Sailors' Home Southampton, Hampshire, England
Occupation: Trimmer
Last Ship: Olympic
Embarked: Belfast on Friday 29th March 1912
Died in the Titanic disaster (15th April 1912)
Body Not Identified

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