Encyclopedia Titanica

John Crane Symonds

Mr John Crane Symonds was born in Diss, Norfolk, England in the latter months of 1867 and was baptised on 20 November that year in his local church.

He was the son of John Crane Symonds (b. 1828), a chemist, and Mary "May" Downing (b. 1830), of Herefordshire and Norfolk respectively who were married in Clerkenwell, Middlesex in 1857.

He had six known siblings: Mary Elizabeth (1858-1913), Ann Edith (1859-1870), William Hart (1861-1861), Robert John (1863-1916), Sydney (1864-1869) and Margaretta Mary (1866-1932, later Mrs George Ernest Lee).

Symond's family had moved to Market Harborough, Leicestershire around 1865 and his sister Margaretta was born there. His father, however, died here in 1867 not long before his birth, resulting in the family returning to their native Norfolk where John would be born.

On the 1871 census the family is listed as living at Laurel Cottage in North Chapel, Petworth, Sussex. With his mother perhaps unable to cope financially with all of her brood, the 1881 census shows a 13-year-old John as an inmate at an orphan asylum in Wanstead, Essex. His mother and youngest sister Margaretta are listed as living at Tilbury Hall in West Tilbury, Essex, his mother's profession being described as a boarding school mistress. The 1891 address has John living back with his mother and two sisters at their 1881 address and he is now listed as a ship's steward aged 23 but is absent by the time of the 1901 census. On the 1911 census John Symonds is now boarding at 25 Heysham Road, Freemantle, Southampton and is described as an unmarried ship's steward. His widowed mother and spinster sister Mary Elizabeth continued to reside in Essex, now at 27 Rosedale Road, Little Thurrock.

Symonds was on board the Titanic for her delivery trip from Belfast to Southampton and when he signed-on again, in Southampton, on 4 April 1912, he gave his address as 1 Church Street, Southampton and his age as 38. His previous ship had been the Oceanic and as a first class saloon steward he received monthly wages of £3, 15s.

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

John's mother Mary would pass away in September of 1912 and she was buried in St Mary's Churchyard in Little Thurrock, Essex and he is mentioned on her headstone:

"John Crane Symonds – her son, who died in the Titanic disaster"

His elder sister Mary Elizabeth, a retired schoolmistress, who had just lost her younger brother and mother within a few months, moved to Newport, Wales where her brother Robert, a draper, and his family lived. She survived for just over a year and died in 1913. His brother Robert died in 1916 leaving only his sister Margaretta Mary Symonds who rallied until her death in Essex on 8 November 1932.

References and Sources

Agreement and Account of Crew (PRO London, BT100/259)
Particulars of Engagement (Belfast), Ulster Folk and Transport Museum (TRANS 2A/45 381)
Search archive online

Comment and discuss

Reply Watch Thread

Titanic Crew Summary

Name: Mr John Crane Symonds
Age: 44 years (Male)
Nationality: English
Marital Status: Single
Occupation: Saloon Steward
Last Ship: Oceanic
Embarked: Belfast on Monday 1st April 1912
Died in the Titanic disaster (15th April 1912)
Body Not Recovered

Page Options

Watch this page

Improve this Biography

If you have any corrections or something to add please  get in touch