Encyclopedia Titanica

John Maxwell

John Maxwell

Mr John Maxwell was born in Walton, Liverpool, Lancashire, England on 14 October 1882.

He was the son of Andrew Maxwell (1849-1895), a marine engineer, and Ellen Day (1856-1939). His father was Scottish by birth and his mother was from Liverpool and they had married in 1872.

John had five siblings: Agnes (b. 1876), Ellen (b. 1879), Annie (b. 1879, later Mrs William Knight), Mary (b. 1885) and Andrew (1886-1971).

John first appears on the 1891 census living at 36 Lenthall Street, Walton and would be at the same address for the 1901 census where by then John's father had already passed away (on 17 March 1895) and an 18-year-old John was described as a carpenter/joiner's apprentice.

It is not certain when Maxwell first went to sea but the earliest known crew records for him are from May 1905 when he was carpenter earning £8 per month aboard the Cretic (formerly the Hanoverian) which was operating between Liverpool and Genoa; at the time he specified his local address as 2 Elm Bank, Anfield, Liverpool. He was still working aboard Cretic until at least March 1908.

He was married in Walton in 1908 to Ada Sarah Webster (b. 1880), a native of Litherland, Lancashire and the daughter of bricklayer William Webster and his wife Sarah, née Williams. The couple later settled in Southampton, perhaps coinciding with the White Star Line's removal of their main terminus from Liverpool to that city around the same time. Ada appears on the 1911 census living at Malvern, Victoria Road, Bitterne, Southampton but John was absent and presumably at sea.

John and Ada welcomed their only child Dorothy who was born in Southampton on 25 May 1911.

John was on board the Titanic for her delivery trip from Belfast to Southampton and when he signed-on again in Southampton on 6 April 1912 for the maiden voyage he gave his address as 27 Leighton Road, Southampton. His previous ship had been the Majestic and as carpenter he received monthly wages of £9, 10s.

On the night of the collision Maxwell was one of the party of crew, including Captain Smith, Chief Officer Wilde, Fourth Officer Joseph Boxhall and Thomas Andrews, to inspect the damage inflicted by the iceberg.

John Maxwell died in the sinking and his body, if recovered, was never identified. His effects, valued at £144, were administered to his widow Ada on 9 July 1912, his address in his probate being given as Eaton Avenue, Litherland.

MAXWELL, John (Carpenter), dearly loved husband of Ada Maxwell, 27, Leighton Rd, Shirley, (late Bitterne). Liverpool papers please copy. - Southern Daily Echo, 14 May 1912

He is commemorated on the headstone of his father, mother (d. 19 August 1939) and sister Agnes (d. 19 February 1927) in Kirkdale Cemetery, Fazakerley, Liverpool.


His widow Ada and daughter returned to Liverpool; Ada survived only a few months and succumbed to typhoid and tuberculosis on 8 November 1912.

His daughter Dorothy was therefore left an orphan at only 18-months old and ended up being raised by her paternal grandmother Ellen Maxwell. 

Dorothy married in 1939 to William Parsey Dow (1914-1997), a customs officer and with him had two children. She died in Cheshire in 1988 aged 77.

Research Articles

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Newspaper Articles

Daily Mirror (24 April 1912) John Maxwell
Photograph of Titanic Carpenter John Maxwell

Graves and Memorials

Kirkdale Cemetery, Fazakerley, Liverpool, England
Search archive online


Gavin Bell, UK
Fran Burn

Comment and discuss

  1. Fran

    John Maxwell was survived by his wife Ada Sarah and his daughter Dorothy (born 25 May 1911).  Ada Sarah Maxwell died in November 1912.

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Titanic Crew Summary

Name: Mr John Maxwell
Age: 29 years 6 months and 1 day (Male)
Nationality: English
Marital Status: Married to Ada Sarah Webster
Occupation: Carpenter / Joiner
Last Ship: Majestic (1890)
Embarked: Belfast on Sunday 24th March 1912
Died in the Titanic disaster (15th April 1912)
Body Not Identified

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