Mr John Hatfield Cribb was born in Adelaide, Australia on 27 April 1868.
He was the son of English parents Robert Cribb (b. 1837) and Catherine Johnson (b. 1845). His father hailed from Poole, Dorset and his mother from Swaffham, Norfolk and they had married in Australia around 1864. He had one known sibling, a sister named Mary Ann (b. 1866, later Mrs Frederick Samuel Smith). His mother died in 1871 and he returned with his remaining family to England, settling in Poole where, in 1875, his father was remarried to Lucy Emma Short (1843-1900). John garnered one step-sibling, Robert William Edmond, the following year.
John and his family appear on the 1881 census living at the Queens Hotel (which his father managed) in Poole Road, Holdenhurst, Hampshire.
He was married in Poole in 1894 to Bessie Jane Welch (b. 1868 in Parkstone, Dorset) and the couple settled in Newark, New Jersey and had their first child there, Laura Mae, who was born in 1895. Their stay was not long and they returned to England, setting up in Dorset where their son Ernest Hatfield was born in 1897. A daughter, Ellen Kate, was born in New Jersey in 1900, and another son in Dorset, Frank Victor (b. 1906).
The family appear on the 1901 census living at Ashley Road, Branksome, Dorset and later on the 1911 census at Helenita, Salterns Road, Poole. John would be absent from both reports and it seems he was a frequent traveller across the Atlantic, being recorded as making trips on board various ships to include Teutonic, Oceanic and Adriatic, among others. His profession on these voyages was described as either butler or steward. He was reportedly a butler to prominent families in New York and New Jersey and had spent several years as assistant steward of the Essex Club in Newark.
John and his daughter Laura boarded the Titanic at Southampton on 10 April 1912 as third class passengers (ticket number 371362, which cost £16, 2s). Their destination was Newark, New Jersey and it was intended that the rest of the family would join them in due course to settle permanently.
On the night of the sinking John went to fetch his daughter who would have been berthed in a separate section of the ship. They made their way up to the lifeboats, according to Laura, via passageways reserved for crew use. Placing her in a lifeboat he bid her farewell and promised to get in a later boat.
John Cribb lost his life in the sinking and his body, if recovered, was never identified. His daughter Laura was among the rescued.
John's estate, worth £2526, 10s, was administered to his widow Bessie on 9 August 1912. Bessie never remarried and later settled in Bournemouth. She died on 23 April 1951.
Gavin Bell, UK
Hermann Söldner, Germany
Last Will and Testament of John Hatfield Cribb
Articles and Stories
Newark Star (1912)