(Daily Sketch 20 April 1912)
John Edward Simpson was born in Belfast, Co Antrim, Ireland on 1 March 1875.
He was the son of John Simpson MD (1844-1922), and his wife Elizabeth, née Crickard (1847-1928). His father was a native of Ahoghill, a village close to Ballymena in Co Antrim whilst his mother was native to Co Down, possibly Newtownards. The couple were married in Newtownards, Co Down in 1871.
John had five sisters: Lizette (b. 1872), Caroline (b. 1873), Charlotte (b. 1877), Flora (b. 1879) and Winnifred (b. 1884).
He schooled at Royal Belfast Academical Institution ("Inst"), followed by the Royal University of Ireland and obtained his medical degree at Queen's University, Belfast.
He was married just outside Manchester in 1905 to Annie Edith Peters (b. 1871), a native of Atherton, Manchester. The couple had one child, John Ralph Peters (b. 1907 in London).
John would be absent from the 1911 census but his wife and child were listed as living at "The Lingards," Astley, Manchester, the home of his parents-in-law Ralph and Mary Anna Peters. Annie Simpson, his wife, was described as the wife of a ship's surgeon. John's parents were listed elsewhere on the census of Ireland living at 76 Pakenham Place off the Dublin Road in south Belfast.
John was a Lieutenant with the 1st Volunteer Battalion of the Duke of Cambridge's Own (Middlesex Regiment) until their disbandment and was also a captain in the Royal Army Medical Corps. Health problems apparently persuaded John to go to sea, hoping that the different climate would be more beneficial. He served for several years as medical officer with the P&O Steamship Company before joining the White Star Line and serving aboard Olympic as assistant surgeon.
From Captn. J.E. Simpson R.A.M.C. T.
To The Adjutant 1st (F.S) Btn. Middx. Rgt.
I have the honour to be Sir your obedient servant
J. Edward Simpson Captn.
When he signed on to the Titanic, on 6 April 1912, he gave his address as that of his parents' home, 76 Pakenham Place. He is also understood have kept a property in London at The Old Chestnut, Tottenham Road, Hornbury. His monthly wages would be £9 and as assistant surgeon he would be responsible mainly for the second and third class passengers. On April 10th before the ship sailed Dr O'Loughlin and John Simpson examined the crew muster sheets with Captain Maurice Harvey Clarke, the Board of Trade immigration officer, to ensure a healthy crew was aboard. Just one of the many formalities which had to be completed before the maiden voyage could begin.
Before arriving at Queenstown he wrote another letter to his mother, where he mentioned that money was stolen from his trunk.
I travelled from Liverpool on Monday by the 12 o'c train + arrived on Ward at 10 p.m. feeling pretty tired. I am very well + am gradually getting settled in my new cabin which is larger than my last. This seems all the time as if it were the Olympic + I like it very much. I am a member of the Club now which is an advantage Be sure to let me know how (new page) father gets on with his club. I was glad to get away from Liverpool as usual + don't intend to go up for a month or two. I found my two trunks unlocked + 5 or 6 dollars stolen out of my pocket-book. I hope none of my stamps have been stolen. Did I have my old portmanteau when I borrowed the kit bag? I think not
With fondest love
After the collision, as the water reached C deck, Simpson stood with Dr O'Loughlin, Purser Herbert McElroy and Assistant Purser Reginald Barker. For a brief time they were joined by second officer Herbert Lightoller. The second officer was sweating from his work at the boats and Simpson joked 'Hello, Lights, are you warm?'.
During lowering of lifeboat 14 he gave 5th officer Harold Lowe an electric torch with the words: "Here is something that will be useful to you".
John Edward Simpson died in the sinking. His body, if recovered, was never identified.
He is remembered on the family grave in Bangor Abbey, Bangor, Co Down and on a brass plaque at Royal Belfast Academical Institution:
TO THE MEMORY OF
THOMAS ANDREWS JUNIOR,
AND JOHN EDWARD SIMPSON M.D.
WHO ON THE NIGHT OF THE 14th APRIL 1912
WENT DOWN IN MID-OCEAN WITH THE SS TITANIC
GIVING THEIR LIVES THAT OTHERS MIGHT BE SAVED.
THIS TABLET HAS BEEN ERECTED BY THE
BELFAST OLD INSTONIANS ASSOCIATION
FORTUNATI AMBO NULLA DIES UNQUAM
MEMORI VOS EXIMET AEVO
His estate, worth £181, 5s was administered to Robert McKee Martin, a merchant, William Anderson Rice MD, and Stuart Mansel Smith, a clerk.
His widow Annie never remarried. She later settled in Southampton, her last address being noted as the Hamtun House Hotel, Hulse Road. She died in the Borough General Hospital, Shirley on 23 June 1946.
His son John later married and moved to Guernsey, living at La Rochelle, Albecq Castel. He died in a London hospital on 25 March 1961.
Mariner' Museum (1998) Titanic, fortune & fate:, Letters, Mementos, and Personal Effects From Those Who Sailed On The Lost Ship. Simon & Schuster, New York.
Articles and Stories
Washington Herald (1912)