Mr 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. 1880), Mary (b. 1885) and Andrew (b. 1887).

John first shows up on the 1891 census at 36 Lenthall Street, Walton and would be at the same address for the 1901 census where by then John's father has already passed away (on 17 March 1895) and an 18-year-old John is 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.

He was remembered on the headstone of his father, mother (d. 19 August 1939) and sister Agnes (d. 1 9 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. Dorothy married in 1939, becoming Mrs William P. Dow, and raised a family before her death in Cheshire in 1988 aged 77.


Articles and Stories

Titanica! (2008) 


Gavin Bell, UK
Fran Burn

References and Sources

Agreement and Account of Crew (PRO London, BT100/259)
Particulars of Engagement (Belfast), Ulster Folk and Transport Museum (TRANS 2A/45 381)

Link and cite this biography

(2017) John Maxwell Encyclopedia Titanica (ref: #1355, updated 27th October 2017 08:59:17 AM)

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