Encyclopedia Titanica

James Carter

Fireman who boarded as "W. Ball"

Mr James Carter was reportedly born in Berkshire, England around 1866 the son of George Carter, a merchant navy seaman.  Other details about his early life are uncertain.

James Carter joined the British military at some point although when is not known; there are various candidates in service records but no individual has proved conclusive. Carter is known to have gone on to serve in the Queen's Lancers and also served in South Africa as Farrier-Sergeant of the South African Mounted Police. He was later a reservist of the Royal Army Medical Corps at Netley Hospital, near Southampton.

He was married at the Southampton Register Office on 8 September 1909 to Marianna Kestell (née Pester) Pester, a native of the Channel Islands, they gave their address as 5 Brinton's Road, Southampton. Marianna was born in Vale, Guernsey on 24 October 18621, the daughter of a farmer and was previously married to a man named Kestell, of whom little is known.2

James and Marianna, having married late in life, had no children of their own. Whilst James was absent from the 1911 census, his wife was recorded as living at 5 Brinton's Road, Southampton, boarding with her was Alfred Sutton (Ship's Pantry Steward) who it appears was also a witness at their wedding.

When he signed on to the Titanic on 6 April 1912, Carter gave his age as 35 and his name as "W. Ball," for reasons unknown.

He listed his address as 5 Brinton's Road and his previous ship as the Olympic; as a fireman he could expect monthly wages of £6.

James Carter died in the sinking and his body, if recovered, was never identified.

CARTER--James, aged 46, the dearly beloved husband of Marianna Carter (Late of the Queen's Lancers, also Farrier-Sergeant of the South African Mounted Police and Special Reservist RAMC of Netley Hospital) of 5 Brinton's Road, Southampton. London papers please copy. — 
Hampshire Independent, 11 May 1912

His widow Marianna, who later benefitted from the Titanic Relief Fund, never remarried and remained in Southampton, later living at 37 Andersons Road with her sister Amy Alice Knight (1866-1950). She died on 7 January 1945 aged 82.


  1. The 1939 Register gives 4 Oct 1862, Channel Island, Births and Baptisms, 1820-1907 gives a date of 24 Oct 1862.
  2. She was listed on her marriage certificate as Marianna Kestell (Widow).  

References and Sources

1939 Register
1871, 1881 Channel Island Census
Hampshire Independent, 11 May 1912
Marriage Certificate
Death Certificate

Documents and Certificates

Agreement and Account of Crew, National Archives, London; BT100/259
(1912) Register of Births, Marriages and Deaths of Passengers and Seamen at Sea, National Archives, London; BT334/52 & 334/53


England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1858-1966
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Comment and discuss

  1. Nicky Parr

    Has anyone researched this man and found why he might have used a different name? Quite intriguing! I found him when looking for someone who was 'like a brother' to my granddad and 'Ball' was granddad's surname. The person my granddad talked about was John Penrose, who came from the same village.

  2. 181214

    He is one of the more harder ones to sort out Nicky. I have however, got the marriage certificate between James and Marianna. The marriage is registered in Southampton for 1909. I am in the process of trying to sort out this particular Carter I found at one of the records held at Southampton Archives. Whether this is our man remains one of those outlandish long-shorts at the moment, but the connections are strongly linked with South Africa more so during the Boer War. Annoyingly I have to revert all my efforts with a major museum to scale down what does and what doesn't survive on record.... Read full post

  3. 181214

    Unsure if this is our man in question?? Other reasons for doing another line of the many searchers I've been bog-down with, and out of the blue to some extent, was an accident waiting to happen. Among the many press cuttings another joins the file. The article in question resorts to the come back of those heavy involved with the Boer War and some notable names of immense wealth of the Southampton circle, were awarded the Freedom of Southampton. Among the names is "Carter" (no first name quoted) but his background and bravery fits his description to a tee. Has any one else come across... Read full post

Reply Watch Thread

Titanic Crew Summary

Name: Mr James Carter (W. Ball)
Born: circa.1866 in
Nationality: English
Marital Status: Married to Marianna Kestell (née Pester)
Last Residence: at 5 Brinton's Road Southampton, Hampshire, England
Occupation: Fireman
Last Ship: Olympic
Embarked: Southampton on Saturday 6th April 1912
Died in the Titanic disaster (15th April 1912)
Body Not Recovered

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