Encyclopedia Titanica

John Brown Niven

John Brown Niven was born in South Leith near Edinburgh, Midlothian, Scotland on 19 October 1881.

He was the son of John Naismith Niven (1848-1900), a gardener, and Anne Watson Marshall (1850-1899). Both his parents were from Midlothian, his father from Leith and his mother from Edinburgh and they had married around 1868. He had six known siblings: Elizabeth (b. 1869), Robert (b. 1871), Isabella Brown (b. 1873), Thomas (b. 1877), Julia (b. 1880), Elizabeth Anne (b. 1884), David (b. 1886) and James (b. 1888).

The 1891 census of Scotland shows John and his family living at 13 Ferrier Street, Leith, where he was seemingly born and which was described as a green grocer's shop at that time. Both his parents died within a short period of each other and when the 1901 census was conducted John seemingly appeared in England, giving his name as John Naismith Niven, perhaps in honour of his recently-deceased father, and he was listed as a stoker aboard the Pembroke, then docked at Chatham, Kent.

He was married in Southampton in early 1910 to Louisa Lilian Scott 1, née Kindler.

Louisa was born in Southampton in 1865 and was married in her home city  in 1889 to Henry Francis Scott, a labourer, (b. 1859 in Horsted, Sussex). The couple would have five known children: Henry Francis  (1890-1961), Lily (b. 1893), Harold Louis (1894-1966), Ernest Louis (1897-1972) and Louis Edward (1899-1989). Louisa was a widow by the time she appeared on the 1901 census (her husband having died in late 1899), then living at 130 Priory Road, St Denys, Southampton. When Louisa appeared on the 1911 census, she was still going by the name of Scott and had a further two children, Violet Louisa (b. 1904) and John (1906-2001) and was described as a widow and a general dealer living at 7 Briton Street, St Mary, Southampton. The identity of the father of Louisa's two younger children is uncertain although it is likely that they were fathered by John Niven.

When he signed on to the Titanic, on 6 April 1912, he gave his name as J. McGregor (for reasons unknown) and his address as 7 Briton Street, (Southampton). His previous ship had been the Oceanic and as a fireman he could expect monthly wages of £6.  Also aboard was his nephew by marriage Harry Finch.

John Niven died in the sinking. His body, if recovered, was never identified.

His widow Louisa continued to live in Southampton, later at 110 Clarendon Road, Shirley. She died on 24 January 1916.


  1. Discrepancy over name. Her birth was registered as Louisa Emma Kindler and marriage as Louisa Lilian Kindler. Probate record also records name as Louisa Lilian.

Titanic Crew Summary

Name: Mr John Brown Niven (J. McGregor)
Age: 30 years 5 months and 27 days (Male)
Nationality: Scottish
Marital Status: Married to Louisa Lilian Scott (née Kindler)
Last Residence: at 7 Briton St. Southampton, Hampshire, England
Occupation: Fireman
Last Ship: Oceanic
Embarked: Southampton on Saturday 6th April 1912
Died in the Titanic disaster (15th April 1912)
Body Not Identified

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  1. Deleted member 173198

    Deleted member 173198 said:

    I was wondering those researchers on this side as well as on the other side of the pond have had trouble trying to solve this Crew name as mentioned above. I have to be honest this one is proving to be a real menace. Early indications are showing (possibly) his real name is John Brown Nevin, and not McGregor. I already have the marriage certificate when Louisa Lilian Scott (Widow) married him at St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church in Southampton during the year of 1910. St. Andrew's Church doesn't survive anymore as this disused Church was eventually demolished back sometime in the... Read full post

  2. Bob Godfrey

    Bob Godfrey said:

    I see the listed dependants are: Nevin - widow; Scott - 3 step-children; McGregor - 2 children. Which suggests that the widow had for some reason reverted to her maiden name. Unless you're saying that the groom's name on the marriage cert is Nevin?

  3. Mark Robert Hopkins

    Mark Robert Hopkins said:

    Presumably, Bob. This is the conundrum.

  4. Deleted member 173198

    Deleted member 173198 said:

    Morning Bob and the same greetings to Mark. Yes, absolutely correct Bob. She is known as Mrs Nevin by the Southampton Committee but to her outsiders who know her a 'Shop Keeper/General Dealer' she's known as Mrs. Scott.

  5. Mark Robert Hopkins

    Mark Robert Hopkins said:

    It's interesting, though, Andrew, how the man could have been/was known by two different names. One cannot help but wonder how and why. If his earliest indications (perhaps including his birth certificate) identified the man as Nevin, where did McGregor come from and when was it applied? Did I miss something? Sorry, just thinking aloud. Yes, we have encountered many similar instances such as this; misnomers have been quite common with Titanic, in one form or another. Many have been explained so far. Please continue to update us on the story, as it seems like a fascinating one. I'm... Read full post

  6. Deleted member 173198

    Deleted member 173198 said:

    Hello Mark, Reporting back before I sign off completely. If you don't mind I read your profile and was greatly impressed with your keen interest in other subjects. A wise move to keep the mind occupied in different areas. As you worded it correctly 'misnomers' are common factor with Titanic, and have been circulating around for quite awhile now. Hence my reason for doing a comprehensive study at Southampton Archives. Why was the surname of McGregor adopted instead of Nevin. Pass on that one as I basically don't know. I suspect he like H. Johnston, real name (Harry Thorn) decided to... Read full post

  7. Karen Bartlett

    Karen Bartlett said:

    I may have a solution to this 'conundrum'. I believe that J McGregor was in fact John Brown NIVEN born about 1882 at 13 Ferrier Street, Leith, Edinburgh, Scotland. His parents were John and Annie (nee Marshall) and he was the middle child between Robert, Thomas, Julia, Elizabeth Anne (Lizzie), Davie (my Grandfather) and James. He married Louisa Lilian Scott, widow of James Scott, in 1910. She already had 3 children Violet, John and Louisa Scott. John and Louisa (Louie) subsequently had 2 children of their own. Their address was 7 Briton Street, Southampton. Previously Louie was listed... Read full post

  8. Deleted member 173198

    Deleted member 173198 said:

    Hello Karen, A warm welcome to E.T. First of all, a big thank you for coming forward and providing us with this additional information. The enclosures you supply above in the first paragraph are more or less (what I usually say) 'Bang on'. Your information on his wife Louisa living down 7 Brition Street is also correct. Today, these small little terrace houses don't survive. During the War this area of Southampton was completely obliterated by the Luftwaffe. Now here comes the crunch or what I should say he 'bomb shell'. Louisa Niven formerly Scott remarried again and became known as... Read full post

  9. Deleted member 173198

    Deleted member 173198 said:

    Karen -- I notice in your message of the 3rd, and you state from the letter, that John Brown Niven had a nephew?? I don't recall anything confirmed by the old Southampton Committee. Unless you can provide a name you may have inherited from the pass, then and only then, can I double-check the pages from the Minute Book's and see who is likely contender to be connected with this side of the family. I have nothing else to offer. Andrew W.

  10. Karen Bartlett

    Karen Bartlett said:

    Hi Andrew Thank you so much for responding to my message and providing further information. I have only recently begun to research my family and its proving very interesting so far. I spoke to my mother yesterday about the information I had found (which you have now confirmed) and a lot of it was news to her. My mother was born in 1918, well after the Titanic disaster, and unfortunately she said my grandfather (JBN's younger brother) rarely spoke about his family. He probably had enough problems of his own bringing up a family of 6 children after his wife died. My mother was 6 at... Read full post

  11. Deleted member 173198

    Deleted member 173198 said:

    Hello Karen, Just calling by to let you know that I am back online. I am doing a report as the original was deleted during the repair of my computer. A.W.

  12. Karen Bartlett

    Karen Bartlett said:

    That's good to know Andrew. I'll look forward to reading it. Thanks for keeping me informed. Regards Karen

  13. Deleted member 173198

    Deleted member 173198 said:

    To Philip Hind, I know you don't like personal messages of this degree posted but could I ask you to just bear with me a little longer. Karen -- I am so deeply sorry for not returning back much sooner. I need you to hold on for a few more weeks as I am starting to uncover a very different story about Louisa's pass. At the moment I am making arrangements to meet up with someone next week as I have found her grave in Southampton. As I suspected all along, she's buried with her second husband - Francis Henry Scott. He died in 1899 at the age of 40. Once I am satisfied with the details,... Read full post

  14. Deleted member 173198

    Deleted member 173198 said:

    Oh dear - I stand corrected. This is what happens when you're in a rush to take the dog for her afternoon walk. Francis Henry Scott is her first husband, not her second. Apologises for that!

  15. Karen Bartlett

    Karen Bartlett said:

    Wow Andrew, Francis Henry Scott is a new name to me (I thought Louisa's first husband was James). I'll await your update with interest. Thank you so much for all your efforts. Hope you are enjoying unravelling the mystery as much as I am! There are a few more Nivens up here in Northumberland/Newcastle upon Tyne who would be equally interested in hearing about their 'family'. Best wishes Karen

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Gavin Bell, UK