Encyclopedia Titanica

John Frederick Preston Clarke


John Frederick Preston Clarke was born in Chorlton, Manchester, Lancashire, England on 28 July 1883.

He was the son of John Robert Clarke (b. 1865) and Ellen Preston (b. 1861) who had married in 1883. His father was a native of Croydon, Surrey and was described on the 1881 census as a law stationer (clerk), whilst his mother was a dressmaker from Sandal, Wakefield, Yorkshire. The eldest of three children, John had two sisters: Ellen Mary (b. 1885) and Emily Florence (b. 1887). John seemingly came from a musical family and his maternal aunt Mary was described as a musician on the 1891 census.

When John appeared on the 1891 census he was lodging with his paternal grandparents Robert and Mary Ann Clarke at 47 Gloucester Villa, Croydon whilst his mother was listed elsewhere at 67 Greenleaf Street, Toxteth Park, Liverpool. The whereabouts of John's father is unknown and his mother would be described as widowed on subsequent census records.

The 1901 census shows John and his family at 174 Tunstall Road, Liverpool and he was described as an insurance clerk. By the time of the 1911 census he was described as a musician, still unmarried and living with his mother and sisters at 22 Tunstall Street. He was formerly a member of the orchestra of the Argyle Theatre of Varieties, Birkenhead and had also played with the Liverpool Philharmonic Band.

John, a bass violinist, travelled on the Titanic in Second Class on ticket number 250654 as one of the eight-strong orchestra and he embarked on 10 April 1912. Following this voyage he was hoping to once more embark on a musical season.

Mr Clarke died in the disaster. His body was recovered (#202) and buried at Mount Olivet Cemetery, Halifax on 8 May 1912.


(© Bill Fowler, Canada).


CLOTHING - Grey overcoat; grey muffler; uniform, green facing; green socks; crucifix.

EFFECTS - Diamond pin; gold watch; keys; knife; sovereign case, No. 2; pocketbook; memo book;; 8s.; gold ring, marked "J.F.P.C."


His mother and sisters benefitted from the Titanic Relief Fund and in May 1912 a special benefit performance by the Philharmonic Society was held at the Philharmonic Hall, Liverpool, also in their aid and John's memory. On 15 July his estate worth £128, 13s, 6d was administered to his mother.

Titanic Passenger Summary

Name: Mr John Frederick Preston Clarke
Age: 28 years 8 months and 18 days (Male)
Nationality: English
Religion: Roman Catholic
Marital Status: Single
Last Residence: in Liverpool, Lancashire, England
Occupation: Musician
Embarked: Southampton on Wednesday 10th April 1912
Ticket No. 250654
Cabin No. E
Died in the Titanic disaster (15th April 1912)
Body recovered by: Mackay-Bennett (No. 202)
Buried: Mount Olivet Cemetery, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada on Wednesday 8th May 1912

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Research Articles

Senan Molony Titanica! (2004) Titanic's Band: Killing Them Softly.
Just how many people did the ship's orchestra kill?

Newspaper Articles

Progress : the Journal of Lever Brothers (1912) Port Sunlight
Birkenhead News (20 April 1912) An Argyle Theatre's Bandsman Among the Titanic Orchestra
Worcester Evening Gazette (20 April 1912) Brave Musicians of Ship Meet Fate Trying To Drown Cries of the Perishing Passengers
Toronto Daily Star (24 April 1912) Nearer My God, To Thee, Is Musicians' Prayer
Those on the Titanic Played It Knowing Their End Was Close at Hand


(1912) Concert by the Apollo Club, Brooklyn in aid of musicians' families


Senan Molony Titanic Review (2011) The Band That Played On
Senan Molony reviews Steve Turner's new book about the musicians aboard the Titanic The Band that Played On


Brian J. Ticehurst John Frederick Preston Clarke
Nearer My God to Thee
White Star Line Repertoire
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Comment and discuss

  1. Evelyn Bleasdale

    Evelyn Bleasdale said:

    Many congratulations on your excellent site. I am a new member and am interested in contacting anyone who has any information on this member of the ship's musician group. If I can't find it here I doubt I'll find it anywhere.

  2. Brian J. Ticehurst

    Brian J. Ticehurst said:

    Morning Evelyn - Below is my printout of Mr. Clarke - I have just added this to his Biography - I hope you find it of interest? Regards Brian Clarke, John Frederick Preston. 22 Tunstall Street, Smithdown Road, Liverpool. Orchestra (Bass). (From: Mansion House Titanic Relief Fund Booklet, March 1913) Number 688. Clarke, Ellen. Mother. Clarke, Eileen Mary, Sister. Clarke, Emily Florence, Sister. All class F dependants. Body number 202. Estimated age 35. Black hair, no marks. Clothing:- Grey overcoat, grey muffler, uniform, green facing, green socks, crucifix. Effects:- Diamond pin,... Read full post

  3. Evelyn Bleasdale

    Evelyn Bleasdale said:

    Thank you Brian, your detailed information was most interesting. As I am new could you please explain what class F dependants means. I was particularly interested in Mr Clarke's family connections. At around that time my husband's family were living very near Mr Clarke's family and were also musicians. I am presently researching whether they played together maybe as members of the Philharmonic Society. Do you have any record of relatives of his contacting the website?

  4. Brian J. Ticehurst

    Brian J. Ticehurst said:

    Evening Evelyn - Glad the information was useful. Here is the Relief Fund table of payments - note they are weekly: The scale of the Titanic Relief Fund Allowances (1912) was as follows: All payments - per week. Class A. (Officers and Engineers) Widow £2 0s 0d, children 7/6d. Class B. (Saloon Stewards and Bedroom Stewards) Widow £1 12s 6d, children 6/3d. Class C. (Lower Class Stewards, Catering, Boots, Bakers, Bedroom Stewards) Widow £1 7s 6d, children 5/6d. Class D. (Stewards) Widow £1 0s 0d, children 3/6d. Class E. (2nd Class Stewards, Stewardesses, Senior Firemen) Widow... Read full post

  5. Evelyn Bleasdale

    Evelyn Bleasdale said:

    Thank you Brian, you are a fund of information. Three shillings per week for each of them was not so bad, was that for life? I don't want to be a nuisance but would you please give me a pointer as to how I start to search the archives as I have not found that so easy to do? Thank you for your help and support so far.

  6. Brian J. Ticehurst

    Brian J. Ticehurst said:

    Hello Evelyn - your questions: Yes the amount for adult recipients was for life for children the allowances (usually) stopped at 16 years of age. How to search the ET archives - sorry I just dont know - Perhaps one of the Moderators can help? Cheers Brian

  7. Jason D. Tiller

    Jason D. Tiller said:

    Hello Evelyn, Welcome aboard. There are several archived threads just below this one, that you can search through. As well, there are many threads in that you can also peruse.

  8. Priscilla Clarke

    Priscilla Clarke said:

    Searching for relatives of JOHN FREDERICK PRESTON CLARKE Orchestra player. His one sister Eileen lived in Shrewsbury at 15 King Street in 1914. His other sister Emily Florence married William Henry Mills who was a Grocer' Priscilla Clarke

  9. Priscilla Clarke

    Priscilla Clarke said:

    John 'Fred' Clarke's sister was called Ellen(after her mother) the Titanica name is wrong due to bad print of 1901 Census. It now transpires that she was my Mother's Mother and not her Aunt. Emily and William Mills gave my mother name to protect Ellen. I understand that there is a Yorkshire relative who has the information. Please get in touch.

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