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John Bradley Cumings

John Bradley Cumings
John Bradley Cumings

Mr John Bradley Cumings was born in Boston, Massachusetts on 26 September 1872.

He was the son of John Wells Cumings (1836-1891), a sugar importer, and Abba M. Clark (1840-1914), both Massachusetts natives who had married on 18 June 1861.

The youngest of three children, Cumings' elder siblings were: Clara Louisa (1862-1893, later Mrs George H. Witherell) and Marion Wells (b. 1868, later Mrs Frank B. Bermis).

John later worked as a banker and was married in Brookline, Massachusetts on 24 September 1896 to Florence Briggs Thayer (b. 1873). The couple initially lived in Brookline, Massachusetts and had their first two children there: John Bradley Jr (b. 15 August 1897) and Wells Bradley (b. 18 September 1899). They moved to Manhattan around 1900, appearing there on that year's census, and they would have another son whilst in that city, Thayer (b. 16 March 1904). The family appeared on the 1910 census still living in Manhattan at 50 East 64th Street and with four female servants, all Irish.

A stockbroker, he was a partner in Cumings & Marckwald, located at Wall Street and was also a director in the Subsurface Torpedo Boat Company.

Outside of work he was a member of Racquet, Metropolitan, Riding and Knollwood Country Clubs. His life was insured for $10,000.

In the Spring of 1912 Mr Cumings and his wife Florence embarked for a six-week-long European vacation and for their return to the USA boarded Titanic at Cherbourg as first-class passengers (ticket number 17599 which cost £71, 5s, 8d). Whilst aboard they occupied cabin C-85

Following the collision with the iceberg, Mr and Mrs Cumings went to the boat deck and were among the group of first-class passengers herded down to A-deck to enter lifeboat 4. Mrs Cumings stayed with the other women around lifeboat 4 and waited until the boat was finally lowered. She refused to leave her husband but he assured her that he would follow in a later boat.

John Bradley Cumings died in the sinking and his body, if recovered, was never identified. He is commemorated on his widow's grave in Mt Auburn Cemetery, Cambridge, Massachusetts:

"Sacred to the memory of John Bradley Cumings
- Born September 26, 1872, Lost at Sea on S.S. Titanic, April 15, 1912 -
'Greater love hath no man than this - that a man lay down his life for his friends."

His widow Florence later remarried before her death in 1949.

His son John was married in 1922 to Katherine Hurd (b. 1904) and raised a family, working as a stockbroker and banker. He died in 1937 following a stroke aged 39.

His second son Wells later entered the Marines during World War I and died on 30 June 1918 from wounds sustained earlier during the Battle of Belleau Wood, France; he was just 18 years old.

His youngest son Thayer graduated from Harvard and later worked in advertising, rising to become director of his firm before his retirement in 1963. A veteran of WWII, he was married to Virginia Richardson (b. 1909) and raised a family. He died in York Harbor, Maine on 20 February 1989.

Titanic Passenger Summary

Name: Mr John Bradley Cumings
Age: 39 years 6 months and 19 days (Male)
Nationality: American
Embarked: Cherbourg on Wednesday 10th April 1912
Ticket No. 17599, £71 5s 8d
Cabin No. C85
Died in the Titanic disaster (15th April 1912)
Body Not Recovered

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References and Sources

Contract Ticket List, White Star Line 1912 (National Archives, New York; NRAN-21-SDNYCIVCAS-55[279])
Photo: (Boston Herald

Newspaper Articles

New York Times (16 April 1912) John Bradley Cumings


Grave memorial stone
Thayer Cumings, son of Florence and John Bradley Cumings
Boston Globe (1912) John Bradley Cumings
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Comment and discuss

  1. Jorge Pena (Jorge)

    Jorge Pena (Jorge) said:

    I remember reading somewhere that John Thayer and Florence Cumings were brother and sister. This site does not say that. Is it true that they were even related?

  2. Jeffrey Kern (Jeffrey)

    Jeffrey Kern (Jeffrey) said:

    Yes, they were most definitely related. I do not know for certain how (although I, myself, thought brother and sister, but who knows? They might be first cousins). You can tell, for later on, when Mrs Astor was to host a dinner for the Captain of the Carpathia, Arthur Henry Rostron, both Mrs Marian Thayer and Mrs Florence Cumings arrived, as they were both the most prominent of women on board of the Titanic. I know they are definitely related, but as to where, I could not say. I hope this helps you.

  3. Michael Findlay

    Michael Findlay said:

    Dear Jeffrey and Jorge, John B. Thayer and Florence Thayer Cumings (later Swain) were not brother and sister, nor were they related. I knew Thayer Cumings, Florence's son, for several years and asked him this question one time. He replied that there was absolutely no connection between his mother and the Thayers of Philadelphia. If there was a connection, it was extremely distant. Thayer Cumings was also surprised when I told him that his mother was a guest of Mrs. Astor shortly after the disaster. Along with Mrs. Thayer, Mrs. Cumings attended a luncheon at the Astor mansion in... Read full post

  4. Jeffrey Kern (Jeffrey)

    Jeffrey Kern (Jeffrey) said:

    Thank you truly for letting us know of this. The connection seemed "obvious", and thankfully I now know the truth to this answer. Merry Christmas and have a Happy New Year, Michael!

  5. Jorge Pena (Jorge)

    Jorge Pena (Jorge) said:

    Thank you for your help Michael.

  6. Mark Bray

    Mark Bray said:

    Can someone tell me more about Thayer Cumings? Living? Family? Email Me: Mark

  7. Nathan Heddle

    Nathan Heddle said:

    I was just wondering if Mrs John B. Cumings, born Florence Thayer, was the sister of Mr John B. Thayer. She was born in Mass. and he in PA., but they have the same name and seemed to be travelling together. Mrs Thayer and Mrs Cumings were both in Boat No 4, and after the sinking they both attended a dinner hosted by Mrs Astor. It seems rather a coincidence if there was no relationship. nathan

  8. Nathan Heddle

    Nathan Heddle said:

    OK so I have sort of answered my own question, but still need a little help. John B. Thayer was the son of John B. Thayer and was therefore J. B. Thayer jr. Which of course makes Jack Thayer, John B. Thayer III, not infact jr., as he is often written as. Obviousally this means Mrs J.B. Cumings and Mr J. B. Thayer can't be brother and sister as Mrs Cumings father was George A. Thayer but maybe they were cousins. Surely they had to be related? nathan

  9. Edmund Turner

    Edmund Turner said:

    I've read elsewere that somebody thought that Jack Thayer and Florence Cummings were brother and sister this is incorrect,I think I'm right in saying that there was no relation between Florence Cummings and the John Borland Thayers but somebody else may be able to answer this question better than me Ed

  10. Nathan Heddle

    Nathan Heddle said:

    Thanks Ed, Yeah I've had a look around since I posted that and it seems that they weren't closely related anyway. In JB's family tree there isn't a mention of a George A. Thayer, that I saw anyway. It just seemed such a coincidence that she was friendly with the Thayers and then went to lunch after the tragedy with Mrs Astor and Mrs JB. Oh well nathan

  11. Michael Findlay

    Michael Findlay said:

    Dear Nathan, Thayer Cumings, the youngest son of John and Florence Cumings, told me that his family was of no relation to the John B. Thayer family of Philadelphia. I hope this will help answer your question. Michael Findlay

  12. Nathan Heddle

    Nathan Heddle said:

    Thanks Michael, I'd sort of thought this already, but conformation is good. nathan

  13. Teri Lynn Milch

    Teri Lynn Milch said:

    Mr. Philip Gowan, Your name (and Michael Findlay's) was listed as a contributor to this passenger, is the reason I am directing this post to you. Your contribution was to passengers Mr. John Bradley Cumings and Mrs. Florence Cumings of New York City. My co-worker mentioned during our brief chat about Titanic, that his grandmother (and her husband) was a passenger aboard the Titanic. His grandmother's name was Mrs. Mary Cummings and the husband's name was Mr. John Bradley Cummings. They were first class passengers from New York City. Mary survived. The spellings are different,... Read full post

  14. Michael H. Standart

    Michael H. Standart said:

    Teri, "The Sinking of the Titanic and Other Great Sea Disasters" was one of the books that came out in 1912 and is written by Marshall Logan. I checked Fiona's site on this and found that the full text can be downloaded at the project Gutenberg site at http://promo.net/pg/ Hope this helps. Cordially, Michael H. Standart

  15. Phillip Gowan

    Phillip Gowan said:

    Teri, The passengers real names were Florence and John Bradley Cumings--no mistake in names or spelling of the surname. One question you might ask your co-worker (which he should definitely know if he is a grandson of the Titanic Cumings family)--is who his grandmother married as her second husband. The correct answer is Chester Odiorne Swain. In the back of my mind I'm thinking there might have been a "Titanic imposter" in California that used the surname Cummings as well--but I haven't tried to keep up with the details of all the imposters (though I was recently astonished to discover... Read full post

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Gavin Bell, UK
Robert Bracken, USA
Michael A. Findlay, USA
Phillip Gowan, USA