John Poole Penrose was born in Mary Tavy, Tavistock, Devonshire, England in 1863. He was the son of Matthew Penrose 1, a commercial traveller and his wife Betsey Gorman (b. 1835 in Mary Tavy) who had married in late 1861. John had one known sibling, Matthew (b. 1864).
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 stepsiblings: Robert George (b. 1872), Samuel (b. 1874), Frank (b. 1875), Frederick (b. 1876) and Betsy Rice (b. 1880).
The 1871 and 1881 censuses shows John 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 step-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. 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 surviving children were: Reginald Poole (b. 1891) and Florence Dorothy (b. 1896).
Following years 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. 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. He came aboard the Titanic at 6 am on 10 April.
Penrose died in the sinking, his body, if recovered, was never identified. His estate, worth £131, 3s, 4d was administered to his widow on 2 August 1912. She further benefitted from the Titanic Relief Fund.
John's widow Florence never remarried and eventually moved in her later years to Surrey to be closer to her daughter where 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 (b. 1905) but she is not believed to have had any children. She relocated to Surrey and died there in 1982.