Encyclopedia Titanica

James Ransom

Mr James Ransom 1 was born in Woolston, Hampshire, England in 1862 and his birth was registered in the last quarter of that year. 

He was the son of James Ransom (1837-1905), a gardener, and Mary White (1837-?), both Hampshire natives who had married in Southampton on 19 January 1862.

James had eight known siblings: Henry (b. 1864), Mary Ann (b. 1865), Louisa (b. 1867), George (b. 1869), Emily (b. 1871), Elizabeth (b. 1874), Ellen (b. 1876) and Rosa (b. 1880).

On the 1871 census the family were living at Portswood Road, Southampton; a few years later schoolboy James, aged just 12, was accused of breaking and entering the home of young widow Amelia Dix on 8 August 1875, making off with an undisclosed sum of cash. Found guilty, the young boy was sentenced to a fortnight’s imprisonment with hard labour at the Southampton House of Correction, followed by three years in Hants Reformatory.

After this the young Ransom was sent off to sea.

By the time of the 1881 census the Ransom family were shown living at 7 Park Terrace, South Stoneham; James was absent and listed elsewhere as a deck boy aboard SS Cherbourg, then docked in Southampton.

Ransom was married in late 1885 in Southampton to Martha Ann Wilkinson (b. 6 February 1865 in Southampton), the daughter of cook and confectioner Francis Wilkinson and the former Emma Moore, a lodging house keeper.

James and Martha went on to have eight children, three of who did not live past their early childhood; James (1887-1887), Eva Florence Beatrice (1891-1899) and Alfred James (1893-1894). Their surviving children were: Francis Henry (b. 1889), Martha Mabel Dorothea (b. 11 June 1890), Ernest Arthur (b. 30 July 1897); and twins Alma Rosalind and Violet Audrey (b. 9 January 1903).

By the time of the 1891 census James, his wife and family are living at 4 Havelock Terrace, All Saints, Southampton and James is listed as a marine steward. On both the 1901 and 1911 census reports James is shown as absent, but his family were resident at 71 Livingstone Road, Portswood on the 1901 census. Sometime after this the whole family relocated to Bristol and appear as such on the 1911 census living at 72 Harrowdene Road, Knowle.

James was on board the Titanic for her delivery trip from Belfast to Southampton. When he signed-on again in Southampton on 4 April 1912, he gave his address as Knowle, Bristol. He gave his age as 33 and his previous ship as Oceanic. As a first class saloon steward he received monthly wages of £3, 15s. 

James Ransom died in the sinking and his body, if recovered, was never identified. The following death notice appeared in the Southampton Times on 18 April:

RANSOM--April 15, on s.s. Titanic, James Ransom, of Knowle, Bristol, late of Southampton and Poole, aged 49 years. A dear husband and father. Deeply mourned. "And they shall be Mine, saith the Lord of Hosts, in that day when I make up My jewels." RIP. Canadian Papers please copy.

James' widow Martha was not remarried following the disaster, remaining in Bristol for the rest of her life. She was shown on the 1939 register living with her daughter Violet. Martha died on 26 May 1958 aged 93. 

His daughter Martha married in 1917 to aircraft warden Morgan Roberts (b. 1889), raising a large family with him. She died in Southampton in April 1976. 

His son Francis2 later worked as a grocer’s assistant and was married in 1909 to Annie Peart (b. 1890), the daughter of a marine engineer; they had no children. During WWI Francis was enlisted into the British Army but deserted in September 1916, later settling with his wife in Northumberland where he became a widower in 1937. Francis was remarried in 1939 to Eleanor May Hope (b. circa 1903). He died in Fatfield, Durham in June 1960. 

His son Ernest later worked as an engine fitter and was married in 1921 to Gladys Irene Hills (b. 1900) and they had two sons. He continued to live in Bristol and died in January 1954. 

Daughter Alma was married in Bristol in 1931 to Harold Wilfrid Wakefield (b. 1907) and had three daughters, Margaret and twins Mary and Ann; they settled in Ontario, Canada in the early 1930s but made numerous visits back to Britain over the years, well into the 1950s. It is believed that she died in Canada, although when and where remains unclear. 

Daughter Violet was married in 1932 to mechanic Alfred Robert Mounty (b. 1906) and they had one daughter. She died in Bristol in 1987.


  1. Sometimes listed as “James Augustus Ransom” who was born two years later and from a different family and whose parents’ names were also James and Mary, the latter née Reynolds. 
  2. Often confused with Francis Herbert Ransom of Sussex (b. 10 March 1889) who married Ethel Tidy, dying in Chichester in 1947. 

Titanic Crew Summary

Name: Mr James Ransom
Nationality: English
Marital Status: Married to Martha Ann Wilkinson
Last Residence: at Knowle Bristol, England
Last Ship: Oceanic
Embarked: Belfast on Monday 1st April 1912
Died in the Titanic disaster (15th April 1912)
Body Not Recovered

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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)
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  1. Rosy Jones

    Rosy Jones said:

    James Ransom - a first class saloon steward, was a relative of mine, from Southampton. Just wondering if anyone had any further information, or even a photograph.

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Gavin Bell, UK