John Poole Penrose

Mr John Poole Penrose was born in Mary Tavy, Tavistock, Devonshire, England in the first half of 1863. 

He was the son of Matthew Penrose1, a commercial traveller and his wife Betsey Gorman (b. 1835 in Mary Tavy) who had married in late 1861. He had one known sibling, Matthew (1864-1915).

John's father died in 1864—around the same time his brother was born—and his mother was remarried in 1870 to Matthew Northey (b. 1823 in Mary Tavy), a miner who was a widower with at least one child, William (b. 1855) from his previous marriage. John later gained a further five half-siblings: Robert George (b. 1872), Samuel (b. 1874), Frank (b. 1875), Frederick (b. 1876) and Betsy Rice (b. 1880).

The 1871 and 1881 censuses shows Penrose and his family living at Harndon Village, Mary Tavy and in the latter he is described as a copper miner, like his stepfather. His stepfather died in 1890 and by the time of the 1891 his mother and siblings were listed as living at Millhill Cottages in Tavistock.

John had left the copper mining industry sometime in the early 1880s and went to sea to work as a steward, settling in Liverpool; by September 1899 he was a steward aboard Majestic, giving his address as 29 Eaton Avenue and was serving aboard the same ship and living at the same address by September 1902. By the following year he was a steward aboard Cedric and by then living at 4 Lawton Road, Waterloo and was still working aboard her until the latter half of 1904.

He was married in Liverpool's St Michael in the Hamlet Church in Toxteth on 5 September 1887 to Florence Annie Griffiths (b. 1865 in Liverpool) and the couple had a total of four children, losing two in infancy. Their known children were: Reginald Poole (b. 1891), Florence Dorothy (b. 1896) and Rita Victoria (b. 1901). Rita was their youngest and she died after just one year of life. 

The 1901 census shows Penrose and his family living at 29 Eaton Avenue, Litherland and he was described as a mariner. Following years of living in Liverpool John and his family perhaps moved to Southampton around 1907 to coincide with the White Star Line's decision to move its main port to that city. They appear on the 1911 census living at 13 South View Road, Shirley and he is still described as a ship's steward for the White Star Line.

Penrose was transferred from the Olympic and when he signed-on to the Titanic on 4 April 1912 he gave his address as 13 South View Road, Southampton. As a first class bedroom steward he received monthly wages of £3, 15s and came aboard Titanic at 6 am on 10 April.

John Penrose died in the sinking and his body, if recovered, was never identified. His estate, worth £131, 3s, 4d was administered to his widow Florence on 2 August 1912 and she further benefitted from the Titanic Relief Fund.

Florence never remarried and in later years eventually to Surrey to be closer to her daughter; she died on 21 April 1948.

His son Reginald was married in Southampton in 1917 to Ethel Katie Clements but, however, he was killed in action on 16 August 1917, serving in the second Battalion of the Hampshire Regiment. He is commemorated on the Tyne Cot Memorial in West Vlaaneren, Belgium.

John's daughter Florence Dorothy was married in Bournemouth in 1931 to Eric Crudgington Fernihough (1905-1938) from Birkenhead but she is not believed to have had any surviving children. She relocated to Surrey and died in Byfleet on 19 February 1982.


  1. In his marriage record he gives his father's name as Richard Penrose.
  2. The U.S. Senate list gave his address as Southern Rd, Southampton.

References and Sources

British Census 1881
United States Senate, Washington 1912. n° 806, Crew List

Newspaper Articles

Exeter Flying Post (20 April 1912) Devonians on Board (5)
Hampshire Independent (17 April 1915) In memoriam

Documents and Certificates

Mansion House Titanic Relief Fund (41)
Titanic Relief Fund Minute Book, Southampton Area
(1912) PENROSE: Probate Information
(1914) Titanic Relief Fund Minute Book, number 2, Southampton Area
(1914) Titanic Relief Fund Minute Book number 2, Southampton Area (4)
(1915) Titanic Relief Fund Minute Book number 2, Southampton Area (5)


Penrose Family Information
(1912) Minute Book of the White Star Company (5)
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Comment and discuss

  1. John Pnrose said:

    Re: Does anyone have any more information = my grandathers name was Patrick and my Dad's name John Penrose which seems to suggest John Poole Penose may have been my great grandfather

  2. John Brown said:

    John Poole Penrose was married to Florence Annie Griffiths. He had the following children Reginald Poole Penrose (1891 - 1917), Florence Dorothy Penrose (1897 - 1982) note:- Florence was to later marry Eric Crudgington Fernihough (world speed record holder and Swedish Grand Prix winner, Rita Victoria Penrose (1901 - 1902) and Cecil Kenneth Penrose (1905 - 1905)

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Link and cite this biography

Encyclopedia Titanica (2018) John Poole Penrose (ref: #2040, last updated: 2nd January 2018, accessed 19th September 2021 17:28:33 PM)

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