Mr James Arthur Paintin was born on 28 December 1882 at Clay Cross Wharf, St Ebbe's, Oxford.
He was the son of William Frederick Henry Paintin (carpenter) and his wife Eliza Mary (nee Osborne).
Arthur, as he was known, was baptized at Holy Trinity Church1, St. Ebbes, Oxford on 3 January 1883. He had nine siblings that are known about2.
As a boy Arthur sang in the choir at All Saints Church, Oxford [? Holy Trinity]. Then, for some years, he worked in the service of Justice North.
Around 1907 he left his home city to join the White Star Line as a steward.
Paintin travelled considerably in his years with the White Star Line. He visited India, but between 1908 and 1912 had chiefly been on the North Atlantic run. As "Tiger" (Captain's steward) to Edward John Smith he served on both the Adriatic and lastly the Olympic before transferring to the Titanic.
Arthur was married at Holy Trinity church on 8 November 1911 to Alice Bunce.
Alice was 31 years old; the daughter of David Bunce, a retired Oxford college servant and his wife Sarah.
When Arthur signed-on to the Titanic on 4 April 1912, he gave his address as 20 Shakespeare Avenue, (Southampton). As Captain's steward he received monthly wages of £3 15s.
He wrote to his parents in a letter that was posted when the ship docked briefly at Queenstown:
April 11 1912
My Dear Mother and Father
Many thanks for your nice long letter this morning received before leaving. I intended writing before we left, but there did not seem time for anything. I cannot realise that I had ten days at home, and am very sorry I could not get to Oxford, for we have now commenced the quick voyages all the summer (bar accidents).
I say that because the Olympic's bad luck seems to have followed us, for as we came out of dock this morning we passed quite close to the 'Oceanic' and 'New York' which were tied up in the 'Adriatic's' old berth, and whether it was suction or what it was I don't know, but the 'New York's' ropes snapped like a piece of cotton and she drifted against us. There was great excitement for some time, but I don't think there was any damage done bar one or two people knocked over by the ropes.
Now as regards the Hearts of Oak3, I should like to join if you will tell me how to get about joining, and I will do so at once. I have been in a stewards club since last August and the benefits start after 12 months. Please let me know how to set about the Hearts of Oak if you are not too busy with the Thames St affairs4, what an awful business it must be settling everything. I hope it will turn out better than you expect.
My cold is still pretty bad, but nothing like it was last week.
We spent Easter very quietly for Henry could not get away.
I hope the cyclists had a good time of it, and I hope Mr Barker made a good impression.
Bai jove what a fine ship this is, much better than the Olympic as far as passengers are concerned, but my room is nothing near so nice, no daylight, electric light on all day, but I suppose it's no use grumbling. I hope to make up a bit for last voyage I saved nothing to think of.
I wonder if I shall see Nellie before she leaves home, I think you had better bring her down to Southampton for a day or two while we are there, for I don't see any chance of getting away.
Do you think she has enough money to go on with? If not, let her have some from Elsie's account, for no doubt she wants a lot of extra things. Alice was very pleased with book and I told her to return it when she has finished.
Now I think I must say au revoir once again.
With best love to all from
Your ever loving son
Alice Paintin had been visiting Oxford at the time of the disaster, she rushed back to Southampton in the hope of gaining news from the White Star offices, but later discovered that her husband of only five months was dead.
Alice returned to Oxford to live with her brother Frank at 48 Stratford Road, Oxford5.
A tragic postscript to this story was enacted at the house in Stratford St. on 31 July 1912, a bare three months after the sinking, when Alice Paintin gave birth to a baby boy. She named him Arthur James Paintin6.
There is a brass plaque in memoriam to James Arthur Paintin at St Matthew's Church, Marlborough Road, Oxford.