Mr John Garfirth was born in Wollaston, Northamptonshire, England in the closing months of 1889, later being baptised on 12 January the following year.
He was the son of George Garfirth (b. 1849), a gardener, and Ann Robinson (b. 1850). Both his parents were natives of Northamptonshire who were married in 1868, going on to have ten children.1
John's known siblings were: John (1873-1873), Thomas (1875-1958), James (1877-1951), Edward (1879-1947), Ernest (1881-1955), Herbert (1885-1956), Alice (1887-1940, later Mrs Walter Garfirth), Alfred (1892-1965) and Leonard (1894-1918).
He first appears on the 1891 census living with his family on High Street in Wollaston. His father died in 1897 and the remaining family moved to Hinwick Road, also in Wollaston, appearing there on both the 1901 and 1911 census records. The latter record shows John working as a pressman in a boot factory.
John and his friend George Patchett, also a boot worker decided to emigrate to Canada where George had relatives and they were originally supposed to have travelled aboard the Empress of Ireland on 5 April 1912. Their attempts to join that ship were hampered by the coal strikes and they were forced to cancel and transfer to the Titanic which they boarded at Southampton on 10 April 1912 as third class passengers (ticket number 358585 which cost £14, 10s).
John Garfirth died in the sinking and his body, if recovered, was never identified.
His mother continued to live in Wollaston and she died in 1922. His youngest sibling Leonard later fought in WWI in the 14th Battalion of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders. He was killed in action in France on 27 March 1918.
Arthur Merchant, USA
- The 1911 census states that he had eight siblings, with he being among five surviving from that number. However, ten children born to John's parents have been identified through census and baptismal records and only one of whom, the elder John who was born in 1873, is known to have died in infancy.