Encyclopedia Titanica

John Edward Simpson

John Edward Simpson
(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 request that I may be permitted to transfer to the unattached list of R.A.M.C. T. officers as owing to professional duties as Ship's Surgeon in the White Star Line + am prevented from carrying out all my duties in the R.A.M.C. T. for some time.

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.

Dear Mother

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:




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.

Titanic Crew Summary

Name: Dr John Edward Simpson
Age: 37 years 1 month and 14 days (Male)
Nationality: Irish
Marital Status: Married to Annie Edith Peters
Last Residence: at 76 Pakenham Place Belfast, Ireland
Occupation: Assistant Surgeon
Last Ship: Olympic
Embarked: Southampton on Saturday 6th April 1912
Died in the Titanic disaster (15th April 1912)
Body Not Recovered

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References and Sources

Stephen Cameron (1998) Titanic: Belfast's Own, Wolfhound Press Dublin, ISBN 0-86327-685-7
Mariner' Museum (1998) Titanic, fortune & fate:, Letters, Mementos, and Personal Effects From Those Who Sailed On The Lost Ship. Simon & Schuster, New York.

Newspaper Articles

Washington Herald (21 April 1912) DESCRIBES LAST MEAL ON TITANIC
“It Was the Gayest Night of Trip Among Diners,” Says Assistant Steward
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Comment and discuss

  1. Richard A. Krebes

    Richard A. Krebes said:

    Judging from the notes at the end of his ET entry, I take it the letters posted in the entry for Assistant Surgeon Simpson reside in a place named the Mariner's Museum? Is this correct? Where would this museum be, New York? Richard K.

  2. Fiona Nitschke

    Fiona Nitschke said:

    Hello again Richard, Sorry, you're not correct even though it's a fair assumption. The reference you're citing, at the end of Simpson's entry is: Mariner' Museum (1998) Titanic, fortune & fate:, Letters, Mementos, and Personal Effects From Those Who Sailed On The Lost Ship, Simon & Schuster, New York. This book was published by the Mariners' Museum, Newport News, Virginia, as a companion volume to their Titanic exhibition. Simpson's letter requesting transfer from the RAMC is reproduced on p29 (colour). The Mariners' Museum web site is: http://www.mariner.org/. They have some information on their holdings on-line, and instructions on how to place a research request. However, the Simpson/RAMC letter is not in their collection, but the collection of Stanley Lehrer. I do not know how to contact Mr Lehrer. Unless others more knowledgeable have a suggestion, you could

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Link and cite this biography

Encyclopedia Titanica (2014) John Edward Simpson (ref: #1373, last updated: 31st May 2014, accessed 25th January 2022 11:12:09 AM)
URL : https://www.encyclopedia-titanica.org/titanic-victim/john-edward-simpson.html