Mr John Henry Hesketh

John Hesketh

John Henry (Harry) Hesketh was born in Kirkdale, Lancashire, England on 28 January 1879.

He was the son of Henry Hesketh (1848-1919), a railway engine driver, and Mary Griffith (1849-1926), Lancashire natives who had married in St George's Church, Everton on 1 October 1871. One of seven surviving children (from a total of eight) born to his parents, John's siblings were: Mary Louisa Ellen (b. 1873), Frances Jane (b. 1875), Charlotte Eleanor (b. 1876), Thomas Griffith (b. 1881), Josephine Taylor (b. 1887) and Gertrude Adelaide (b. 1890).

He first appears on the 1881 census living at 24 Croylands Street in Kirkdale. By the time of the 1901 census he was described as a marine engineer and still living with his family, then at 26 Barlow Lane in Kirkdale.

Hesketh had been apprenticed as an engineer from the age of 14 before joining the White Star Line, commencing his seafaring career as Sixth Engineer aboard the Afric. He latterly served aboard a number of the company's vessels, including Cedric, Persic, Medic and Laurentic and was involved in the salvage of the Seuvic following that ship's grounding. He had responsibility for the refrigeration machinery aboard the Majestic and was instrumental in improving the quality of the refrigerated cargo provision offered by White Star. He was the youngest acting Second Engineer in the company. By the time of the 1911 census John was still living with his family, by now at 80 Garnett Avenue, Kirkdale. He was unmarried.

When he signed on to the Titanic's maiden voyage on 9 April 1912, he gave his address as 80 Garnett Avenue [Liverpool] and his previous ship as the Olympic. As a second engineer he could expect monthly wages of £18.

Hesketh was in Boiler Room 6 when the Titanic struck the iceberg and he barely managed to shut the dampers (shutting off the flow of air to the fires) when he heard a sound like a gunshot. He and leading stoker Frederick Barrett were suddenly hit by a jet of icy water and they ran aft and managed to clamber through the doorway of the tunnel into boiler-room 5 as the watertight door closed. The remaining men including Fireman George Beauchamp raked the fires before escaping to safety.

John Henry Hesketh died in the sinking and his body, if recovered, was never identified.

His estate at death was worth £447,10s and was administered to his father Henry on 8 July 1912.



Daily Sketch  (1912) 
John Henry Hesketh

Articles and Stories

Daily Sketch (1912) 

Comment and discuss

  1. Neil Hesketh said:

    My Dad (born 1919) used to refer to 2nd Engineer Hesketh as his uncle. My dad's sister (now in her 80's) tells me he was really a cousin of their father-another Harry Hesketh who lived in the Walton area of Liverpool and was an engine driver.I have seen the small display of Henry's bible and effects at the Liverpool Maritime Museum and I would love to hear of any surviving relatives please.

  2. Michael Cundiff said:

    To Neil and all: Just three hours ago I was visiting another antigue/dealer/friend of mine, he says "Oh Mike I have been waiting for you to come in". Out of his safe-keeping area he pulled out a cabinet photo measuring 6 1/2 x 4 1/2. I exclaimed "Oh my God", as I recognized the pictured individual immediately...James H. Hesketh. The item is in great condition and penciled on the reverse is as follows; Helen Tufford at top, in the middle 2nd Eng. James H. Hesketh May 1 1905. On the botton back is written Uncle James died at his post on the Titanic April 15 1912. A mnfg. stamp is in... Read full post

  3. Michael Cundiff said:

    I failed to note...that however I have never seen an image of James H. Hesketh, I feel it was a *Titanic sixth sense* that allowed my recognition of the individual pictured. And, BTW, the image depicted of Hesketh is of a young man, in uniform, w/hat and crest, arms held proudly folded abreast...perhaps during his tenure with Majestic? I remain feeling blessed, Michael Cundiff NV, USA

  4. Michael Cundiff said:

    ATTN: Mr. Brian Ticehurst - After diligently searching the web for an image of Hesketh...nothing realized. So in a second-step, I was hoping, with your supreme passenger & crew knowledge, you might provide information of a named Niece of Hesketh's? The pencil writing on reverse..."Uncle James"...appears that of a younger person. Thanking you in advance Sir... Michael Cundiff NV, USA

  5. Bob Godfrey said:

    This is the best I can do. Any resemblance?

  6. Michael Cundiff said:

    Oh Bob...thank you Sir..a striking resemblance! And may I ask your source of the image? Also is there an image of his bible which is on display at museum in England? In my cabinet photo, Hesketh is attired in a back cap with burgee & black coat...same as above. And the name James, disputed in previous posts, long ago, and portrayed by Walter Lord in ANTR, may in fact be correct... Michael Cundiff NV, USA

  7. Michael Cundiff said:

    ADDENDUM: In all my excitement (I am at the public library currently), I may have to double check, however my image appears of an dark haired gentleman...still same stern look of face. In my image Hesketh appears more handsome. What is the date of your image? A list member may jump in and acclaim yours is not Hesketh? I have no doubt in the provenance of my photo...:-) Michael Cundiff NV, USA

  8. Bob Godfrey said:

    Can't offer any verification or primary source, Michael. I think this was from one of those victim galleries of tiny photos printed in British newspapers back in 1912. That was at a time when all sorts of misinformation was in circulation, so I wouldn't bet money that they'd got it right!

  9. avatar

    Samuel Halpern said:

    Michael, I've have a copy of the same photo of Hesketh as posted by Bob. It was from an on-line article about the engineers on board Titanic. Biographies of all the engineers and photos of C/E Bell and all 2nd and assistant 2nd engineers were included in the article. Unfortunately, the link to the site with this information no longer works. The original source of the photos and the biographies in the article were not identified.

  10. Michael Cundiff said:

    Bob & Samuel: I showed a friend the two images of said Hesketh...she said yes without a doubt the same gentleman. My opinion upon comparison? The long cheekbones are the same as well as the nose. However, the image that Bob provided, the gentleman seems older. Remembering that, my image is dated 1910, which would have made Hesketh 30 yrs. old, as some sources aged him at 32 while others aged him 33 at the time of his demise. As I reported, my image seems to portray a much more handsome man. I am going to provide an image to ET as soon as I am able. I may require a larger image of... Read full post

  11. Bob Godfrey said:

    Michael, I'd say that the man in the photo above is certainly young, no older than early 30s. And it's nothing unusual for the camera to be generous on one occasion and less so on another - a slight change of expression, angle or lighting can make all the difference. Though not so common now, the name Jack has always been a diminutive of John. Like Henry and Harry. I had a great grandfather, grandfather and two uncles all known as Jack but with the given name John. There is no such tradition linking the names John and James.

  12. avatar

    Brian J. Ticehurst said:

    Morning Mike C - flattery will get you everywhere. Here is my Obit on Mr. Hesketh: Hesketh, James H. Lived at 80 Garrett Avenue, Liverpool. Occupation - Junior 2nd Engineer. 32 years old. (Born in Liverpool). (From: Mansion House Titanic Relief Fund Booklet, March 1913) Number 120. Hesketh, Mrs. mother. Hesketh, two sisters. All class A dependants. MR J. H. Hesketh entered the service of the White Star Company as engineer apprentice at fourteen years of age, and began his sea-going career as sixth engineer on the Afric. He also saw service on the Cedric, Medic, Persic and Ceufic, and... Read full post

  13. Michael Cundiff said:

    Thank you Brian Ticehurst for your, very detailed page. And Bob, I think you are correct about the angle and lighting. The great thing about the caibnet era photos, I understand that silver nitrate was used in exposing the negative, therefore allowing a very detailed & clear, sepia toned image. I am certain they are one-in-the-same individual. Michael Cundiff NV, USA

  14. Michael Cundiff said:

    I viewed ANTR for the umpteenth time just last night. It was great to see Thomas Andrews along with 2nd officer Hesketh inspecting the boiler room, upon a stoker's reply..."She's a beautiful job Mr. Andrews!", Andrews turned to Hesketh and voiced..."Thanks Hesketh". Even before I aquired the Hesketh cabinet photo, that particular scene in ANTR was a favorite. So, if all goes well, I am going to my Sister's house tomorrow, a quaint 30 miles from my home, for a delayed family Thanksgiving dinner. At that time, my Mother will upload the Hesketh photo to our ET forum. Michael Cundiff... Read full post

  15. Michael Cundiff said:

    I wrote - "If all goes well..." Unfortunately my Sister took ill, no family gathering for turkey. I hope it's not the H1 N1 flu. So, tomorrow I will visit my friends Antique store, and have him upload the image... considering he's not in such a bad moood! Ever since the collapse of the economy Antique sales have been down. Boo hoo! No turkey for me this year. :-( Michael Cundiff NV, USA

  16. Michael Cundiff said:

    Hello: My friend uploaded the Hesketh image, however his computer would not access the ET forum, so I forwarded the file to Mr. Halpern, with hope he can forward the file to ET. The blurred red printing on the bottom border was meant to say: Courtesy of the Michael Cundiff collection. Here's thanking Sam in advance... (BTW: Currently I am on the State's libraries computer service) Michael Cundiff NV, USA

  17. Michael Cundiff said:

    Merry X-Mas - I realize this attachment comes late in finding you, home for Christmas and my dearest Mother uploaded Mr. Hesketh. Enjoy

  18. Michael Cundiff said:

    Just curious on other list members opinion on resemblance with the image from the Engineers of the Titanic memorial booklet, as shared by Bod Godfrey 11 posts above mine. BTW, the Hesketh cabinet photo has a grey border surrounding the white border as seen above, and too my Mother accidently cropped the bottom. Michael Cundiff NV, USA

  19. Ann Howell said:

    I'm a relative of John Henry (Harry) Hesketh. Another family member has done a great deal of ancestry research. If you google 'John Henry Hesketh + Chris Szabo' she comes up on other forums. (Sometimes goes under the name Christine Hughes). I'm sure she would be very interested to hear what you have to say, too.

  20. Deborah Obrien said:

    My name is Deborah O'Brien and Im John Henry Heskeths great great niece, Id just like to say how excited I was to see the photo of John henry or uncle Harry as he has always been known to us, posted by mr. cundiff, we have a couple of other pics of him but not this one, thank you so much for putting it on, I have printed off a copy to show my sisters, they will be amazed, the items in the museum in liverpool were donated by my late mother mrs barbara beagan who was his great neice, if you would like to get in touch with me I would be only to pleased to hear from any of you, my e mail address... Read full post

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Gavin Bell, UK
Denis Griffiths, UK
Chris Hughes

References and Sources

Photo coutesy of Gunter Babler
Agreement and Account of Crew (PRO London, BT100/259)
Dr. Robert D. Ballard & Rick Archbold (1987) The Discovery of the Titanic: Exploring the Greatest of all Lost Ships. Hodder & Stoughton / Madison Books. ISBN 0 340 41265 8
Walter Lord (1976) A Night to Remember. London, Penguin. ISBN 0 14 004757 3
Hermann Söldner (ed.) (2000) RMS Titanic: Passenger and Crew List 10 April 1912-15 April 1912. ä wie Ärger Verlag.
Institute of Marine Engineers Commemorative Booklet
Search archive British newspapers online

Link and cite this biography

Encyclopedia Titanica (2015) John Henry Hesketh (ref: #1518, last updated: 26th May 2015, accessed 9th August 2020 11:16:03 AM)