Mr John Bourke was born in Carrowskeheen, Addergoole, Co Mayo, Ireland on 23 May 1869.
He was the son of William Bourke (b. 1840), a farmer, and Mary O'Boyle (b. 1848) who had married on 5 March 1867. His only known sibling was his sister Mary (b. 1871). His mother died at a young age and his father was remarried to another Mayo woman named Margaret (b. 1837) who was destined to outlive him.
John and his sister appear on the 1901 census of Ireland living in at house 11 in Carrowskeheen living with his stepmother Margaret and he was described as a farmer. His stepmother died sometime later.
John was married on 17 January 1911 to Catherine McHugh (b. 1879), a native of Tawnagh, Co Mayo and a childhood acquaintance who had emigrated to the USA, spending time in Chicago, Illinois before returning to Ireland in 1910. John, his new bride and his sister Mary appeared on the 1911 census living at the same address as they appeared on the previous census.
His wife's close friend Catherine McGowan had returned to her native Mayo in late 1911 with the intention of returning to Chicago in the following Spring. This perhaps prompted John to follow suit and he, his wife and sister made plans to emigrate to Chicago where his wife's sister Ellen lived at 66 Ruby Street in Chicago.
He joined a large group of over a dozen people from his locality who would all be travelling third class aboard Titanic and John and his wife boarded the Titanic at Queenstown on 11 April 1912 (ticket number 364849 which cost £15, 10s).
On the night of the sinking John, his wife and sister were all reportedly asleep at the time of the collision but were awakened by a steward who told them to get up and dressed. John and his wife with his sister Mary in tow (perhaps with the others whom they were travelling with) all made the upper decks with his wife and sister having ample opportunity to escape. Both his wife and sister refused to be parted from him under the women and children first edict and the three of them were lost in the sinking.
John's body, if recovered, was never identified.