John James Charman was born in Horsham, Sussex, England on 1 May 1886, later being baptised on 25 July 1886 in Warnham Parish Church.
He was the son of Solomon Charman (b. 1843), a gardener, and Mary Marchant (b. 25 January 1842), both Sussex natives of Warnham and Balcombe, respectively, who had married on 30 April 1870.
The youngest of eight children, John’s siblings were: Solomon George (1871-1953), Albert Henry (1872-circa 1953), Selina Mary (1874-1947)1, Ralph William (1975-1973), Eleanor (1877-1965)2, Reuben (1879-1973) and Lily (1881-1976)3.
John first appears on the 1891 census when he and his family were living at the Gardener's Cottage, Pondtail Road in Horsham.
John's father passed away on 30 August 1899 whilst they were residents of 4 Wickershams Lane in Horsham. Young John, aged only 13 at the time, went into employment to help support his family as his mother was reportedly only partially sighted. He appears on the 1901 census working as a page in the employ of the Southgate family of 47 Leicester Square, London. He would continue working in London in various hospitality jobs before moving to Southampton around 1910 where he was employed by the Star Hotel on 26 High Street. He is listed here on the 1911 census and is described as an unmarried waiter. A year later he would leave this position and go to sea; the Titanic would be his first ship.
When he signed-on to the Titanic on 6 April 1912 Charman gave his address as 10 Latimer Street, Southampton, a lodgings address. As a second class steward he could expect monthly wages of £3, 15s. He was reportedly acquainted with steward Fred Hartnell, whose father James, was a porter at the Star Hotel.
John Charman died in the sinking and his body, if recovered, was never identified4.
He is mentioned on his parents’ headstone in Denne Road Cemetery in Horsham:
...Also his Son
John James Charman
Son of the above
lost his life on
April 15th 1912
John's mother remained in Horsham where she passed away on 17 July 1935 aged 93. His last surviving sibling was his sister Lily who died in Horsham in 1976.