Encyclopedia Titanica

James Arthur Paintin

Captain Smith's Steward

James Arthur Paintin
James Arthur Paintin

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.


Plaque at St Matthew's Church, Oxford.
(Courtesy of Trevor Baxter)


  1. Holy Trinity church, where Arthur was baptized and married, was closed in 1954 and demolished in 1957.
  2. Arthur's siblings were
     Frederick (born 10 August 1877)
     Henry Bertie Frank (born 17 July 1879)
     Nellie Maud (born 23 April 1881)
     George Alfred (born 4 November 1885, died 27 January 1886)
     Elsie Dora (born 14 November 1886)
     Kate Elizabeth (born 25 November 1888)
     Louisa Mary (born 12 March 1890)
     Edith Florence (born 7 February 1893)
     Cyril Herbert (born 11 December 1894)
    All of the children were born at home when their parents lived in Thames St., Oxford, apart from Edith and Cyril who were born at 38 St. Ebbs St. and Arthur himself who, it is said was born at Claycross Wharf, St. Aldates.
  3. The Hearts of Oak was a British charitable organization, like the Rotary club. Arthur's father and grandfather were members and it seems that Arthur himself was seeking to join. At a meeting on 23 April 1912 at the Heart of Oak annual dinner in Oxford sympathy was extended to the family of Arthur Paintin and £1 7s 4d raised for the relief fund.
  4. 14 Thames St., Oxford was the site of his grandparents home. Arthur's father had died a month before his grandson sailed on the Titanic. His grandmother died in 1908 (buried 28 June 1908).
  5. Alice's brother Frank Bunce lived in the house until 1918 and then moved to 2 Manor Place, Oxford.
  6. The child was baptized at Holy Trinity Church, Blackfriars Road, Oxford on 6 October 1912.

References and Sources

Paintin Family
General Register Office Index of Births, Marriages and Deaths
Oxford Times, April 1912
Oxford Illustrated Journal, April 1912
Parish Records of Holy Trinity Church
Centre for Oxfordshire Studies, Oxford

Research Articles

Philip Hind Titanica! (2012) RMS Titanic 100 Years On

Documents and Certificates

Agreement and Account of Crew, National Archives, London; BT100/259


Donald Hyslop, Alastair Forsyth and Sheila Jemima (1997) Titanic Voices: Memories from the Fateful Voyage, Sutton Publishing, Southampton City Council. ISBN 0 7509 1436 X
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Comment and discuss

  1. Burel Jean-Pierre

    I've recently bought a book called "Titanic's voices" , where Captain Smith's steward , a man by the name of Arthur Paintin is mentioned . Yet I cannot find his bunk or cabin on the ship's plan . I know that he had a small inside room , possibly in the officer's roof on Boat Deck . Any clues ? JP

  2. Michael H. Standart

    More likely he had a bunk down in the same spaces as the rest of the stewards. Maybe I'm missing something, (Wouldn't be the forst time

  3. Burel Jean-Pierre

    No , I don't think he was berthed with the rest of the stewards . For two reasons : 1/on the Olympic plan as built ( see the Shipbuilder) , there's a small stateroom for 2 stewards at the aft end of the officer's accomodation , on port side . 2/the exact words in his last letter to his parents were "Bai (sic) jove what a fine ship this is , much better than the Olympic as far as passengers are concerned , but my little room is nothing near so nice , no daylight , electric light all day , but I suppose it's no use grumbling ..." Notice the singular "my little room" ... Any clues ?... Read full post

  4. Beryl D. Morron

    On Jan. 2, 05 I was browsing archives (I think 1999?) and found someone enquiring about his wife and child. Never found an answer. Have not been able to find it again - perhaps '99 has been purged this year. Does anyone know anything about her? - Alice was her name. J.A.P. was my uncle on my mother's side. Family never spoke of Alice - I didn't know he was married until I found some newspaper articles from Oxford (England). No family left to question. Thank you.

  5. Encyclopedia Titanica

    I have some documents and photos of Alice with her later family which I have never had time to add to the site. I'll try to do so... and put you in touch with the person that sent them.

  6. Beryl D. Morron

    > Thank you so much for your prompt reply - that's great, I look forward to your next communication.

  7. Encyclopedia Titanica

    I have added those pictures and info I was sent to his bio .

  8. Beryl D. Morron

    Thanks Phil, I had never seen these pictures, though I do have a couple of others. Is there any clue as to who Marion Martin is? Or an e-mail address? I wonder if she could be a relative.

  9. Encyclopedia Titanica

    To quote from her post: Dorothy May was Ms Martin's grandmother. I had an email address for her but when I tried it recently it bounced. I'll pass on her snail mail by email and you can follow it up.

  10. William Oakes

    I've been curious about this for some time. I've decided that the brighter minds in this forum is the best possible source for an answer. Did Smith have a personal Valet or Steward assigned to him? I would think that as Commodore of the line, that Smith's uniform need to be pressed, brass buttons polished, high shine on his medals, shoes shined, shirts starched etc., etc. and I'm quite certain that he didn't do these things himself. Does anyone know who this steward or personal valet was? And did he die or survive the sinking?

  11. Mark Baber

    William, note that Smith was not White Star's Commodore. That title was inactive from the time Hamilton Perry was sacked until Bertram Hayes took command of Majestic II.

  12. Arun Vajpey

    It is astonishing that someone with as significant position as Captain Smith's steward (by the way, why was he called a 'Tiger'?) fails to get any mention in almost all major Titanic works. I would have thought that James Paintin was berthed somewhere close to the Captain's Quarters and once the initial alarm went up, would be at hand in case his services were needed, even if only in a physical help capacity. He could even have acted as a 'runner' to pass the captain's orders around to other crew etc during the sinking. And yet, he is not mentioned at all in A Night to... Read full post

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Titanic Crew Summary

Name: Mr James Arthur Paintin
Age: 29 years 3 months and 18 days (Male)
Nationality: English
Marital Status: Married to Alice Bunce
Embarked: Southampton
Died in the Titanic disaster (15th April 1912)
Body Not Identified

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